Contentment Is A Verb

Contentment is a hot topic in many venues and disciplines. References to contentment can be found in virtually every religion, social group, culture, and philosophy. The word contentment can even be found in economics and psychology. Most of the references I have found seem to refer to contentment as a destination or objective.  While that may be an accurate usage of the word I believe that it lacks the depth and dynamic that is possible when used another way.  It would be more accurate, in my view, if contentment was a verb.  Verbs indicate action.  Contentment is really a process, not a destination.  In that way it defies our typical grammar structure.

Contentment doesn’t mean not wanting, not achieving, or not trying.  You can have contentment while trying to reach goals.  You probably must have contentment to really accomplish anything. My definition of contentment would read like this: the struggle of knowing that all that there ever could be is not enough and all that exists right now is abundant.

Here are some other definitions.

  • from WordNet 1.6 1997 Princeton University: happiness with one’s situation in life
  • from Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary 1996: contained within limit; hence having the desires limited by that which one has, not disposed to repine or grumble; satisfied

At the website www.pausetoponder.org they suggest that we are trained to be dissatisfied. Our economic structure thrives on discontent. Contentment in the Western mind is having enough so that you are happy, can sit back, relax, and have no care in the world.  This can never be achieved.  According to Paster Gerry (Pastor Gerry is Gerald Whetstone, Ordained Elder and teacher in the Church of the Nazarene), in A Pause to Ponder God’s Word there are several actions one can take to find contentment.  Note that I said ACTIONS.

  1. Always rejoice in the Lord
  2. Don’t be anxious, pray
  3. Think on Holy Godly things
  4. Practice Holy living
  5. Always remember that with Christ there is nothing that we cannot handle
  6. Be a vital active member of a community of believers

The Jewish concept of Shabbat is also related to contentment.  Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg defined Shabbat as resting in the eternity of this day when we do not try to change or control our reality.  We are not pushing anything away or longing for anything to be different. Shabbat is completion, acceptance, realization, and fulfillment – all of the qualities that we cultivate when we rest our attention in the present moment.

In my dynamic model you “contentment” (the verb) in each time of prayer, meditation, or practice of Tai Chi.  The more one practices the longer you are able to experience the expanding state of contentment.

Graciousness – A Lost Art?

Does anyone value graciousness anymore?  Can you define it?  Merriam-Webster offers several different definitions including Godly, kind, graceful, and merciful.  The ones that interested me most were marked by tact and delicacy and characterized by charm, good taste, generosity of spirit, and the tasteful leisure of wealth and good breeding.

Lifestyle Lounge offers some lessons on graciousness. They suggest that graciousness is about how you make the other people around you feel.  Here are some of their suggestions.

  1. Take a compliment with a smile
  2. Small acts of understanding lead to greater acts of graciousness
  3. Do not fake
  4. Be forward with your help. Don’t want for anyone to ask you for it.

Consider these 10 Characteristics of a Gracious Person from www.godhungry.org.

  1. A gracious person is slow to take credit and quick to lavish praise
  2. A gracious person never seeks to embarrass another
  3. A gracious person is always thanking others
  4. A gracious person doesn’t monopolize the conversation
  5. A gracious person doesn’t try to play “one up-manship”
  6. A gracious person pays attention to people
  7. A gracious person desires to say what is appropriate
  8. A gracious person looks out for the comfort of others
  9. A gracious person understands that she is not indispensable
  10. A gracious person constantly points out the good that he sees

The question that pops into my mind is “Where has this quality gone and how do we get it back?”  I actually know a few people I would describe as gracious. While it may come naturally to them now, I suspect they had role models who exemplified graciousness and that it was also specifically taught and rewarded. I see examples in our current culture which promote competing values that make graciousness more difficult.

What is the consequence associated with the absence of graciousness?  Francis Bacon said, “If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world.” Gracious individuals attract others to them.  The absence of graciousness would lead to separation and isolation.  Graciousness invites cooperation and compromise. The absence of graciousness leads to argument, division, and conflict.

I suspect that the lack of graciousness is cultivated by fear and anxiety. We, as a society, are so worried about making sure we get “our share” or that we “won’t have enough” that we cannot even see what is happening. What are you modeling for your children? Do your children see you thanking others, even for the small things?  Do they hear you thanking them?  How often do you embarrass your children?  When your children talk, do you give them your undivided attention or do you use it as a time to play on your phone or multitask?  Do you focus on your blessings and all the good things that are all around you or do you focus on problems?

I am really not advocating a society in which we ignore problems, fail to correct errors, or overlook deficits. I do believe that if we are engaging in activities with graciousness as a characteristic of who we are, it can have a positive effect.  Remember, graciousness is the use of tact and awareness of other people’s feelings. It suggests that their feelings are at least as important, if not more important, than our own.

I am concerned that graciousness is becoming a lost art. I’m as guilty as anyone else. I plan to work harder to re-introduce graciousness back into my life.  Are you?

X + Y = Z……..or does it?

That seems like a pretty straight forward algebraic equation. We can plug in two numbers and calculate the third one. Another interesting aspect of such an equation is that there are limitless possibilities for Z.  All you have to do is change either X or Y or both.

A while back I read a book called Jump Ship by Josh Shipp. He uses this equation to illustrate a method for moving toward achieving your dream job.  In his formula X is your present, Y is your past, and Z is your future.  I was quite intrigued.  I would like to rearrange these components based on time.  My formula would be Y + X = Z.  With the change in order we could read this as: take your past, add your present to it, and you get your future.  Why is this change of order important to me? Because you can’t change your past.  You are stuck with it.  BUT – it doesn’t dictate your future.  You still have X, your present, that you can use to either overcome or enhance whatever is in your Y.  Sure mathematically the order doesn’t matter, but in the context of understanding your life it might.

Many people go to therapy and assert that they CAN’T do certain things because of their past or because their past means that they ARE a certain way.  I’ve never believed that. Now I have a way to illustrate why.  Mathematically speaking, assume you have a past with a numerical value of 2.  I gave it a low number because you may have lived in poverty, had a mean stepmother, or grew up with prejudice.  Your desire is to have a future that is a 10.  Perhaps for you a 10 would include financial abundance, great relationships, and good health care.  We can plug it into the equation and solve for X.  In this case,  X=8.  That might mean a lot of work to make your present an 8, but at least you know what it would take and can make a decision about whether or not you are willing to work that hard.  Just because you started out at Z doesn’t mean you have to end up there.

Although scary, the reverse is also true. Perhaps you had a wonderful past and assign it the value 8.  Like most people, you want your future to be a 10, but are putting in -2 in your present. You are just floating along without achieving anything, using drugs, or hanging out with people who are “takers.”  Where are you heading for the future?  Not a 10; you are on track for a 6.

The main point is that your past does not decide your future.  It is your present that decides where you are going.  Not 5 minutes ago. Not 5 hours ago.  Not 5 years ago.  The decisions you make in THIS moment.  No……Wait…….This moment…..Each and every moment are the ones that determine your future.

Book Review – Energy Tapping: How to Rapidly Eliminate Anxiety, Depression, Cravings, and More Using Energy Psychology

Energy Tapping: How to Rapidly Eliminate Anxiety, Depression, Cravings, and More Using Energy Psychology by Fred P. Gallo and Harry Vincenzi was one of the first books on Energy Psychology (EP) that I read and I’m delighted to have re-read it again several times.  In addition to being a great introductory text for EP work and tapping, this book has features that truly set it apart from many other books in this genre including a chapter about energy toxins, a great description of the beliefs and their impact on feelings and behaviors, and perhaps the best chapter anywhere on psychological reversal and self-sabotage.

Beyond the basics of how to do tapping, the authors provide easy to follow instruction and numerous case examples so that the reader can feel confident in addressing a variety of emotions and situations. The page formatting and easy to understand graphics add to the experience and the ease of use. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in improving their life circumstance. From a seasoned health provider to the lay person, this book has something to offer.

Tapping Video: Good Things Are For Everyone

Verse 8 of the Tao Te Ching begins this way :

The best way to live is to be like water

For water benefits all things and goes against none of them

It provides for all people and even cleanses those places a man is loath to go

In this way it is just like Tao

(from Tao Te Ching: The Definitive Edition by Lao Tzu with translation and commentary by Jonathan Star)

This tapping was inspired by that verse.  I interpret this to mean that good things are to be shared by everyone, from the highest to the most lowly.  Gulp! That means that good things are even for people I don’t like.  I have had to tap on that one more than once, and truthfully have a long way to go. This video is to get you started with this difficult life practice.

Book Review – Breaking Free

I’m not sure what I thought Breaking Free by Chet Vosloo was going to be about.  It was on my Kindle and I was bored and needed something to read so I opened it up.  At first I thought it was going to be a contemporary romance.  It seemed to be a guy hanging out in bars, sleeping around, and generally sailing aimlessly though life. Then, it seemed to be an adventure story. He started traveling to remote places and bicycling across continents and getting altitude sickness while climbing a mountain.

Then came the spiritual and psychological stories. The main character experienced significant anxiety issues and had physical consequences from that anxiety. The book then follows his quite interesting and unique journey to “Break Free” from his limiting beliefs while living in Asia, an ashram, and in an entourage following a guru.

There were several things that really captured my interest.  First was the author’s description of monkey mind, that distinctly annoying thing that happens when one first attempts to meditate and control one’s thoughts. The weekend meditation workshops that I participated in were some of the most physically, emotionally, and mentally draining activities I have every chosen to attend. When I first became aware that I couldn’t purposefully harness my thoughts for more than a few seconds at a time it was quite an eye opener.  Even more shocking was the “no way, no how” reaction that my brain expressed when I made the attempt.

Second, the author did a fantastic job describing the physical manifestations of emotional dis-ease.  The physical problems are real, but the origin isn’t necessarily in the body. This is something I experience personally and have seen in my professional practice for decades.  This is proof again that the body, mind, and spirit and completely and inextricably intertwined.

If you enjoy reading about intercontinental adventures, this book is for you. If you benefit from reading self-help books, this book is for you.  If you suffer from anxiety, panic attacks, or low self-esteem, this book is for you. If you need an entertaining reminder of the importance of self-control, spiritual development, and the connectedness of the universe, this book is for you.

Tapping Exercise: Feeling Uncertain

Have you ever been stopped dead in your tracks because you didn’t know what to do? I have.  When this occurs, tapping can help.  As you will see in this sneak peak from Unleash Your Primal Power: Totem Tapping for Health and Happiness, it doesn’t have to be complicated to work well.

Use this setup phrase while tapping on your karate chop point: Even though I don’t know how to do this, I choose a path of wisdom.  Even though I don’t know how to do this, I choose a path of intellect. Even though I don’t know how to do this, I choose the path of discernment.

Eyebrow…I don’t know how to do this

Side of Eye…I don’t know how to do this

Under the Eye…I don’t know how to do this

Under the Nose…I don’t know how to do this

Chin…I don’t know how to do this

Collarbone…I don’t know how to do this

Under the Arm…I don’t know how to do this

Top of Head…I don’t know how to do this

Eyebrow…I don’t know how to do this

Side of Eye…I choose to learn

Under the Eye…I don’t know how to do this

Under the Nose…I choose to ask questions

Chin…I don’t know how to do this

Collarbone…I choose to learn more about it

Under the Arm…I don’t know how to do this

Top of Head…I am developing the skills I need to be successful

 

This may seem overly simplistic.  In reality it may be just what you need to get you started.  Give it a try.