At the turn of the New Year, I found myself pondering what to write about in my New Years blog. An email from my Mum arrived in my inbox expressing all that she was grateful for in 2017. This inspired me. Often the New Year is about projecting our unmet desires, goals and projects into the open space of time that lies before us. What if it were about learning to find contentment in what we have.
It can be helpful to have aspirations and goals, they help us to orient, to improve our ways of being in the world, our quality of life. When they dominate our lives, they literally steal the present moment from beneath our feet.The quest for being, becoming and having more is nurtured by the Western culture in which we live. Leaning into a brighter, wealthier, happier future. Glossy magazines, slick movies, social media and advertising bombard us with glowing images of what life could be like. We unconsciously assimilate these messages, developing a chronic sense of lack, inadequacy and discontent that drive the quest for more. We find ourselves hankering for the perfect self, soul mate, dream job, home…fill in the dots. We need to be more, have more, become more. I feel exhausted writing it!
Jon Kabat-Zinn recently added an attitudinal foundation to his list of relational qualities that support mindfulness, gratitude. In gratitude lies, contentment. We do not have be, become or have more to be contented? We only need to train ourselves to look for what is already present in our life experience? To learn how to appreciate more fully what we do have, whether that is our health, our homes, our friendships, the list goes on.
The bard Bob Marley sings in his poignant song Rat Race:
‘In the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty.’
We have so much, here in the West, and yet it seems that the more ‘things’ we get, the less fulfilled we are. What if fulfilment lies not in getting more, but in ‘being’, more? I love this wise story, The Fisherman and The Businessman.’