Sunday, 20 November 2016

Contentment; a state of mind?


Written by John Pam
"let the fool persist in his folly so he may become wise
what is the price of Experience? do men buy it for a song?
Or wisdom for a dance in the street? No, it is bought with the price
Of all that a man hath, his house, his wife, his children.
Wisdom is sold in the desolate market where none come to buy,
And in the wither'd field where the farmer plows for bread in vain."
                                                                                                                                    ~William Blake
Quite often have I heard it been said that contentment is a state of indolence or on the other extreme a state of accepting that which one is capable of changing. It is job hard to see why humans adopt these two views which are on opposite ends of the spectrum between greed and laziness. However, it seems its not so much that people are merely greedy or lazy but that rather they have no scale by which to judge the value of that which they choose to pursue or forgo.
For a minute lend me your imagination, and visualise the perfect scenario you can come up with on this earthly plane . Going to the other extreme imagine the most miserable form of existence you would not want to experience...all done? Now stop imagining and think for a minute...in those two situations, starting with the pleasant one, was your idea of what would give you pleasure not based  on the memory that you had enjoyed so and so before? And hence more of same would be pleasant? And I would assume the unpleasant nature of the opposite state was also a result of memory of past experience.
And here comes the point which is that we choose most of the time to live in comparison to a past pleasure or a future pleasure and hence we creating our own misery as the present can never measure up to the past or future as it is neither,hence our whole lives become a series of transitions rather than the organic growth it is supposed to be. It's why we can't even enjoy the future we have been chasing when we finally arrive as at that point of triumph, for we create another future state and are unable to savor the present. The future becomes an excuse not to enjoy the present moment and the past a reason to disdain our condition. Because its assumed success is a destination rather than a journey...
And the same goes more or less for the lazy person as for the greedy one above. The lazy person fails to appreciate that the serenity sought must be paid for with the price of labor or else one is just putting off the inevitable debt to be repaid. A lazy person is so consumed in enjoying the present moment, they fail to consider how the past led to this present moment, or how the future will be influenced by present decisions.
So in both cases, people become lazy or over ambitious by refusing to look at the big picture which  can be simplified as follows : what price are you willing to pay, from what experience has taught you, to have the future you desire, while not losing sight of the fact that its only moment to moment that the future can be experienced. The is the true measure of contentment.
On a final note let me leave with this analogy to simplify everything, the major difference between the rich man who becomes poor, and the poor man who becomes rich is mostly a change of mental state.
The poor man while poor will be happy to soak garri and groundnut to appease his hunger while the rich man's memories of past luxuries will torment him as he soaks the same garri to appease the same hunger. In the instance where the poor man becomes rich ,the pleasures he enjoyed before due to financial constraints fail to placate him anymore and he must seek new ways to amuse himself.
In the end all value we place is only valid when we realise that most of our misery is caused by our mindset, for if we can change our situation to one more favourable ,then it would be laziness not to do so and still complain of misery,however if we can't change a situation, then why torment yourself craving for what doesn't exist and make misery your companion with fantasies far from reality, resulting in greed, envy and low self esteem. In either case contentment boils down to accepting reality as it is and not comparing it to some fantasy past, present or future. For in the end the value of life does not lie in an abundance of possessions or experiences but rather in the quality of such in regard to our values as individuals.