What does it mean to be content?
I think contentment often gets muddled in as an off branch of happiness. As maybe a general good feeling. That does contentment a disservice.
Contentment is so much more then just the absence of bad it’s a state that is often strived for but misunderstood. There’s nothing wrong with being happy just as there’s nothing wrong with being sad or angry. All are emotional states and are neither worthy of praise or scorn. Contentment is the same, it embodies a state of acceptance.
Acceptance of your current state and your past and future. There’s a tremendous amount of validation that comes from acceptance. To be accepted is something we strive for, for good or ill. To accept ourselves can be as simple as opening ourselves to the idea or a life’s work.
To accept yourself, truly and unconditionally, can be empowering. To understand yourself truly and accept your flaws alongside your strengths is a dangerous journey but often a worthwhile one.
Contentment isn’t the absence of strong emotion. It’s the fulfilment of your own emotional state. It can be fleeting at times and difficult to hold onto. Yet holding that calm in your mind makes the challenges we face a little bit easier.
The last week has been hard.
My nameday went unrecognized.
I was sexually harassed.
Too many transphobic comments, too much victim blaming.
My parents gave me a stuffed rainbow horse for my nameday.
My wife made a nice meal and my family visited.
What’s unique about how difficult this week has been, is not the bad parts, the hard parts, and the awkward situations, it’s the fact that interspersed between those events were nice things, warm moments.
Sometimes nice things happen. Not often in my experience, but they do happen. The highs and lows contrasted in the same day is abnormal for me. It’s an emotionality I don’t usually experience. In really took the wind out of my sails.
In my experience, I’ve generally survived by being able to handle the worst situations, because I’m well accustomed to misery. The loss of a good feeling feels much worse then things just not being good and getting worse.
It’s an emotionality I’m going to have to learn to accept, it’s probably healthier anyways.
New day, fresh start,
make waves, take heart,
find self, live well,
meet other, new hell
self description, new emotion
heart chaos, filled commotion
head tattered, thoughts skewered,
expression stilted, absent steward
other confuse, filled scorn
safe places, shattered shorn
bastion broken, soul flayed
never again, never played
broken, beaten, battered soul
blackness, endless, deepest hole
The only people who fell never near
The only people without fear
Living softly, hollow, shell cracking
The only people lacking
Turned and twisted, reduced with mud
Souls heavy steps, shallow thud.
Sun has broken, clouds subdue
In heart of hearts, hope does renew
The only people without fear
Sing silently their story’s near.
I’ve been pretty damn negative lately, so nows about the time I talk about something positive. Finding inner strength is hard. Whether its passion or conviction or stubbornness or something else, everyone everyday needs a reason to be awesome. Because frankly, not every day is awesome.
I’ve tried hard to find a reason to be awesome over the years, The honest truth for me for a long time was that I didn’t think that I was worth experiencing that. IF you don’t have any self value then being awesome for the sake of being you is pretty difficult. Yet I had to continue on, and did so.
For a long time I don’t think I really had a vision or idea of what I wanted, All I could hold on to was that at some future time i wanted to be happy. I didn’t know what that meant, but that didn’t matter. It was about becoming happy, because I didn’t know how to be happy as things were. There was no settling for me.
Eventually I became a flurry of activity, some people would say I still am. I’m a busy person because I crave stress because then I know I’m working towards something. When my wife and I have too little to do we usually make decisions that will add stress, sometimes permanently to our lives.
So where does inner strength come from? It’s about going back to the original premise of, what makes me happy? If I can answer that question then I can move towards it. Well I never found an answer but I did find some philosophy. I started reading into stoicism. The idea of working towards virtue and accepting what you can’t control and changing what you can. Knowing the very limits of your mind and harnessing it to your will. This was a great source of strength. I’ll start talking about this in other posts. There’s a few tenants and ideals that I rely on when life gets me down.
I haven’t figured out how to be happy yet, but I have found a way to be content with who I am. More then hormones or authenticity, strength of character and conviction give me the motivation I need to push towards that most elusive goal.