An Excellent Life
A theme has come up a lot in my practice recently and I thought I'd share. I hope this is helpful for you!
Think of someone who feels stuck and unable to shift a situation, whether it is a relationship or a situation at work, it feels like a complete dead end.
When I ask my clients what it would look like if this situation was under control and they felt more at peace, most of the time, they seem to be taken by surprise.
We are so entrenched in our problems it can be very difficult to envision a positive outcome. It seems a lot easier to transfer the responsibility to the boss, the partner, our circumstances, etc.
In envisioning a better outcome, I am not asking to visualize rainbows and unicorns or an unrealistic view of the world where everything is perfect. I’m simply asking:
What would this situation feel like if you were content?
Content is not ecstatic.
Content is not stuck.
Content is right in between.
We so desperately want to avoid suffering that we reach for the stars. But what if we reached for contentment instead?
Contentment leaves room for the other person to be the way they are.
Contentment feels like peace. I can finally stop reaching for the impossible and find an in-between that will be very satisfying. Sigh.
What is in front of me right now?
How can I contribute with the skills I already have?
How can I be present for someone who’s going through a hard time without feeling the need to fix them?
Think of equanimity.
My definition of equanimity is simply the art of balance between high and low.
Our society is programmed to reach for the high. The illusion is that if I can keep myself in the high, then I can avoid the low/pain. But we all know that a high is always followed by a low, and over time our baseline may end up lower (see the latest science around dopamine).
What if, instead of reaching for the high, I reached for contentment?
How would you feel in your body if you were content most of the time?
What would work look like if you felt content with what you bring to the table?
How would you show up with your partner if you felt content in the relationship?
As you ask yourself these questions, notice the inner dialogue that says “but content is not enough, I want an excellent life!” to which I would answer:
An excellent life emerges out of sustained contentment.
Go for long-term contentment instead of short-term gratification!