If you need counsel about some matter that has suddenly happened to you, then begin by exposing it to the spontaneity of the young, for surely their minds are sharper, and their intuition is quicker; then after that refer it to the judgement of those who are mature and old, so that they can analyse it, and decide what is best for it, for surely they are the most experienced. ~ Imam Ali (a)
“I wish I had him / her as my friend… then I’d be really happy. ”
“I wish I was famous, then I’d really be happy.”
“I wish was making enough money… then I’d be happy.”
“I wish… I wish.. I wish…”
Have you ever felt this way?
We spend our lives running after things or people, hoping they will make us happy. But as soon as we get what we want, the happiness fizzles away & we start running after the next shiny object.
Finding happiness in material things is like fighting illness with pain killers. The effect is superficial and rather short term.
It’s great to be Happy and to experience this high. But know that this kind of happiness is like a wave. It comes. And it goes.
What we should be really striving for, is to Be Content.
What is the difference between Contentment and Happiness?
If you chase happiness, it will always be one step ahead of you. If you chase contentment, there is nowhere to run.
While happiness is an emotion that comes and goes, I look at Contentment as a way of life.
Contentment is a state of constant well-being despite the ups & downs we face. Life is challenging and at times it can throw us off balance. By practicing contentment, we find the strength to remain at peace no matter what.
How to be Content? 2 Lessons from a Sufi Comic
Two lessons I learned from the quote in the above comic:
1. Be Grateful
Be Grateful to God for what He has given.
There are so many things to be grateful about that we take for granted. Our family, friends, our health, the food that we eat, the list goes on and on!
Often the simplicity of practicing gratitude deceives you into thinking that it’s not worth your time. That its just placebo! But trust me, this works.
It’s an act of faith and can sometimes feel ineffective, especially when you are exasperated. But the more I embrace gratitude, the better my life becomes.
When we are grateful for what we have, it focuses our attention on what is right in our lives. Not only do we become content, it also helps us maintain a positive perspective when we face challenges.
2. Avoid Complaining All the Time
There’s a tendency in society to think that if you’re complaining all the time, you must be “smart”. Because if you’re complaining you’re implying you know how to fix the world’s problems or that you’re somehow better than others.
But complaining only creates more unhappiness not only for you, but also for those around you.
Now I’m not saying that you should smile all the time, and pretend everything is OK when it’s not. That’s unreal.
But before you complain, ask yourself “Why am I complaining?” Is it to validate myself? Or is it because there’s a genuine problem that needs to be addressed.
Instead of complaining, try to be constructive in your criticism. Look at the world from the point of view of the other person. Listen well. Put forth your needs. Try solving the problem together.
In most cases this will lead to a solution.
So the next time you catch yourself thinking “I wish I had so and so… then I’ll be happy.” Gently remind yourself, that you are responsible for your own happiness. And that it doesn’t need to depend on “being famous”, “making more money” or anything external.
What you are really looking for is to be content. And once you realize contentment comes from within, you don’t need to wait any longer. You can be content here & now.
Discuss things with children with insight and argument
and with the Middle Age with reflection
and with the old men by keeping silent
~ Imam Ali (a)