Ever find that inspiration comes and goes, but never sticks around? Wonder how to be content overall? Perhaps you’ve just discovered that uplifting article enlightening you to live free, happy, and avoid making those common life mistakes.
After basking in the glow of these insights, you set off on your way. This works for a while, until . . . you find yourself making the same old mistakes again!
How can we ever evolve if we keep falling back into our same old rut?
What happened?! More importantly, how can we ever evolve if we keep falling back into our same old rut?
Let’s examine three practical tips to help you avoid this so you can learn how to be content in life. The first two inspirations derive from the “Eight Realizations of a Bodhisattva Sutra,” a teaching of the Buddha. The last one comes from my heart to yours.
How to Be Content Tip #1: Learn That Your Beliefs Are Not Truth
The First Realization: “The mind is the source of unwholesomeness.”
Recognize That Your Beliefs Are Only Partial Truths
Imagine that, between you and me, I hold up a flat sign. One side of the sign is red and the other is blue. I ask you the color of the sign and you answer “red.”
I furrow my brow and disagree, claiming the sign is blue. From there we’re off to the races with a heated argument over the color of the sign! I’m not listening to you, and you’re not listening to me. After all, the sign is directly before us and the color seems immediately obvious.
Whatever beliefs we choose to empower are only partial truths.
Whatever beliefs we choose to empower are only partial truths. These beliefs come from our past histories. Whatever you have experienced of this world will color your personal perspective.
And adding this up, since we all enjoy different past histories, we all end up with different perspectives. This means we all live in the same world, but see it differently.
Know That We All Understand Just One Piece of the Puzzle
So understand that your beliefs are not objective Truth. We are all holding partial truths growing from our individual human experience. Rich and poor, men and women, Hindu and Muslim – we all understand just one piece of the puzzle.
The good news? We are surrounded by people living different lives, and they know things we don’t. We could gather wisdom by listening to each other. But too often we find ourselves arguing over the color of the sign.
Go ahead and empower your personal beliefs if you want. But realize your beliefs for what they really are:
- They are causing you to suffer
- They cause others to suffer
- They are not Truth
Choose Kindness for Liberation
On the other hand, letting go of our beliefs is liberating. It frees our mind from judging ourselves and other people. It also removes a barrier that separates us from our True Self, the pure awareness which is our natural source of wisdom and inner peace.
So the next time your perspectives are making you angry, just draw another deep breath. Then commit yourself to listening to other people so you can broaden your understanding of whatever is going on.
Also realize that other people will make mistakes, and that’s okay! You’re just trying to avoid mistakes on your end. If you can listen, and choose kindness over winning the argument, you will have succeeded!
How to Be Content Tip #2: Let. It. Go.
The Second Realization: “Lessen desire and be without any wishes and the body and mind will be at ease.”
Release Personal Desires
Having personal desires is so ingrained in our way of thought it almost sounds weird to NOT have them. But if you truly reflect on your desires, you might notice a few things:
- They bring disappointment – when you discover this world owes us no favors
- They bring conflict – when you encounter people with different desires
- They are the source of your stress – (we’ll get to that)
So in other words, our selfish desires lie at the root of our suffering. The antidote to this dilemma is not to release desire, but to release your attachment to the outcome of desire. In other words, let the means justify the end result.
Let Go of Attachments to Outcomes
Go about your business working to help other people, but from there, just let it go. Want to see what this looks like? Consider:
- Imagine providing value to your projects at work without worrying about the final outcome. Imagine how this could improve your interactions (or rivalries) with your co-workers
- As a parent, imagine helping your children with their academics without shaming them for their exam scores. Imagine how this could establish a relationship with your children based on acceptance of who they are
- Imagine observing people in your life making mistakes, and loving them for it
You see? Releasing the attachment to your desire does not mean you stop helping others. But you remove the stress of worrying about the final outcome.
Because that’s where stress comes from – you’re trying to control an uncontrollable world. If you can detach from this, you free yourself to be a great person throughout your day without all the stress.
Life itself becomes one big yoga session, with the body moving rhythmically to support the people you love. Poof! Stress can be done away with quickly, simply by adjusting the perspectives of your mind.
So, go do what you do, and let the world make of it what it will.
How to Be Content Tip #3: Learn to Value Suffering and Death
Wait, what? Yes it’s true, suffering and death are blessings.
Our selfishness blinds us from realizing this truth. Death is nothing more than change, in a world of inevitable change.
And thank goodness for change! We lament change when we lose something we value, like loved ones or our material possessions. On the other hand, we celebrate when change moves us past disease, heartbreak, or economic trouble.
This selfishness prevents us from understanding the overall value of change in our lives. But without change, we could not learn and grow – for growth itself is change.
How can we not conclude that everything in this human experience is tilted toward our spiritual growth?
Death is the ultimate change and it teaches us an important lesson – the selfish desires we cling to in our lives must eventually be set aside. But as mentioned above, setting aside those selfish desires is exactly what we need to do!
We lament death, but it’s actually nudging us in the direction of inner peace and enlightenment.
Accept the Teachings of Death
Without death, everyone would fixate on the conditions of their lives, and attach strongly to their selfishness. There could be no other objectives to pursue. Because of death we are not constrained in this way. Rather, we are born free:
- To know our personal problems are trivial
- To yearn for spiritual growth
- To celebrate the time we have together
- To play with house money in the game of life
As for suffering, it’s just life’s greatest teacher. Whenever we stumble into the tangled jungle of ignorance, suffering will be there to reveal the depths of our selfishness!
Think of it like a parent reprimanding their child. And just like with children, nobody really wants that lesson. But rather than lamenting, if we reflect on where our suffering originates, it will point us directly to those parts of ourselves where we need some self-improvement.
After all, everybody needs self-improvement, and therefore everybody suffers.
We now understand that death allows us to live free, and suffering guides us to evolve. And if even suffering and death exist to help us, how can we not conclude that everything in this human experience is tilted toward our spiritual growth?
The Takeaway on How to Be Content in Life: It May Be Simpler Than You Think
In our fast-paced modern world, we are sometimes quick to forget ourselves and our personal vows. By reflecting on these three tips, you can hopefully avoid some of the triggers out there in the world which upset you in the first place.
You can start to deal with situations on your terms, replacing intolerance with patience and gentleness.
And there you have it – you are now paving your road to contentment in life.