What Would It Take To Be Content?

Calm down Sally, you live in paradise.

It’s a funny thing the way we look for problems in life, or how we create problems. I have what a lot of people would consider the ideal lifestyle. I don’t have to work (I still do though, just to be safe, and it gives me something to do). I live in a comfortable little apartment with my girlfriend which is only a few minutes from the beach, in a tropical paradise. I get to pursue any idea that takes my fancy, or if I don’t fancy, I get to do nothing at all.

I have traveled and lived all over the world, with future travels to some amazing places still on the cards. I am getting in shape and giving up the bad things, pursuing dreams I did not know I even had.

My life should be non-stop smiles. I should be content, but that is an unrealistic expectation, something which needs to be actively pursued if it has any chance of becoming a reality. I am only human, and it is not in our nature to be content, not for long anyway.

Content grass is greener

I tend to suffer from “the grass is always greener” syndrome, I want the things I don’t have, often just because I don’t have them. It is true I am giving up smoking and that is warping things somewhat, but aside from that there are underlying thoughts which run through my mind and have done so as far back as I can remember. Thoughts which really have little bearing on reality, but are there none the less.

For the most part I am happy, but my lifestyle does not keep me away from the thoughts which haunt mankind.

“I’m doing this, but would it be better if I did that?”

“I have this, but I would be happier if I had that.”

When Sarah and I go out and do something, I often find myself wanting to get home so I can write my book, or make art, or design a website. A million different things seem like they might be better than what I am doing at the time. When I’m at home doing those things, I find myself thinking I should be out enjoying this marvelous place we live in.

Why? Why do I seem incapable of just being content with what I have? Especially when it is so good.

I have a theory!

I think it is the way we have evolved. We evolved to constantly pursue more, to be more and to take more.

“Survival of the fittest.”

If you take everything you can from life, then you won’t come up short. Unfortunately in a world of plenty, that desire for more has just gotten stronger and become misdirected. I think this is why when I sit down at my computer I think “If I got the latest model I could do this and that.” Or if I’m writing my book, I start feeling bad about not being down the beach swimming in the Caribbean. I want it all and I want it all now.

I am happy, but seldom content. Being content seems an impossible ideal to hold onto. Every time I think I have it, a few moments later questions pop into my head, I start to want, and it is gone. Even if I have the option to do it, something will pop into my head and suggest that I am not happy because that other thing would be so much better than what I am doing now.

If I really sit down and think about it, I could not ask for a more suitable lifestyle. The thoughts and feelings which seem so inappropriate considering my wealth of options are, I believe, manifestations of the human condition. Something which all people feel in some way or another.

If I was driving through the Atacama right now (a dream of mine for the future), I would be wishing I was in my amazing apartment in Playa del Carmen. That I am currently in my apartment in Playa del Carmen means of course that sometimes I wish I was driving through the Atacama desert.

I, like most people, have learned how to deal with these emotions over the years, and for the most part I have become pretty adept at it. I am not quite there yet though. For me I think true happiness will be found when I find a way to be at peace with myself. When I find a way to let the external environment be inconsequential to my internal environment.

It is not an easy thing to do, to let go of the crazy thoughts and doubts which run through the mind, to let them be what they are, which is of little importance to reality.

I am happy, as happy as any human being can be I believe. Sometimes I just think too much, and the problem with having all the time in the world, is that you have a lot of time to think.

Have you ever been asked what you would do if you had a year left to live? Before we went traveling I asked this of myself often, and felt saddened that I wasn’t doing the things which sprung to mind. The travel, the self development, all the things I am now actually doing.

If someone asked me now what I would do if I had a year to live, it would be my life for the past year.

What more could a person ask for?

0 thoughts on “What Would It Take To Be Content?”

  1. Very deep. So long as you are doing and not just vegetating inactive.

    You write, therefore you are a writer. You do art, therefore you are an artist. You design websites, therefore you are combining being a writer, an artist and a website designer. You travel, therefore you are a traveller.

    You stopped smoking last week, therefore you are a non smoker, not giving up smoking, you’d still be smoking (but less) if you were giving up. You are a non smoker.

    You live a different lifestyle, but it is a lifestyle you have created for yourself if it stops working for you then you know full well you will change it.

    Keep writing, keep working, keep traveling, I want to read your book. It’s not going to get on the bookshelves without you.

    1. Thanks Jonathan, it’s funny how we can know we should be happy, or we can know why things bother us and how ridiculous they are. Yet it is still so hard to control them. Best thing to do is keep on keeping on. I’ll sign your copy when it hits the best seller list 😉

  2. Not much more! I think that little devil pops up on our shoulders as a challenge to how truly content we could be. However, I find most of the time, those things that make me question how happy I am are way too superficial to actually make me happy. I am mostly content with my life now, but there are a couple of major things lacking that I am in the process of changing, so that, in and of itself, makes me happy. It’s more than a feeling, you know? Minute to minute I may not be happy, but in the grand scheme of things, I am.

    1. Hola Carmel. That’s what I try and focus on, that overall, I am happy. I try not to let the minute by minute issues become bigger than they actually are. I love my life, no doubt. Would be nice to love every second of it though, which is not easy at all.

      1. To do that, you have to love the bad stuff, too. Or maybe not love, but embrace. I am grateful for the hard things in my life because they’ve made me a stronger and better person. I like to think I shed a little more of the b.s. every time I work through something difficult. Well, I like to think it, at least.

        1. Very true, every now and then I manage to acknowledge how I feel better after feeling worse, and try to embrace that thought of how you can’t have light without dark. One makes the other worth having.

  3. What a great post Tyrone. The thing that stands out for me is your underlying message to be content you must be present. Present in every moment then you never miss out. So thank you for the reminder.
    I too have asked the question, if I were to die tomorrow would I be satisfied. My answer is yes. The last year I have been living my dreams, therefore actually living life!!! It’s friggin awesome!!!

    1. Hey Jill, it is a great feeling to know that you are no longer wasting what is ultimately a very short life. Being present can be so hard to maintain, but the results of doing so even for short periods are life affirming. Congrats on Livin the dream! 🙂

  4. It might seem silly to many, but having a dog … and traveling with the dog, has been the greatest reminder to live in the moment and to be grateful and content for it. A canine does not worry about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow? Tail wagging is the best thing in the world to remind you to stop. breathe deeply. calm the mind. and just be.

    I can be walking on the cobble stone streets of Florence thinking about our next trip already and I will look down to Montecristo, his little nose going like mad at the smell of some fresh Italian deliciousness nearby and … suddenly I will smell it to. I will stop. Get some and be present. I wouldn’t if he wasn’t there. A long winded way of saying … it’s takes a non-human to teach contentment.

    1. Doesn’t sound silly at all. Animals are fortunate enough not to be burdened with a strong sense of self. They get to truly live one step or scratch behind the ear at a time. I love dogs and if traveling with them wasn’t so restrictive from country to country I would almost definitely have one with me.
      Thanks for reading Sonja and the great comment. 🙂

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