Wednesday, May 26, 2010
...I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.~~St. Paul to the Philippians.
There is a widespread misconception that happiness and contentment are only possible if one has everything they want or need. Therefore, we strive and connive and contrive, always reaching for more and more, never content, never happy with what we have.
One woman even wrote to me, angry because I was such a Pollyanna, always happy and never upset with anyone. 'Easy enough for you to be happy when you don't have to deal with bad stuff.' Sigh...
I've been there. I lived below the poverty level for much of my life. I actually lived places that wouldn't necessarily be considered habitable in today's world. I've been the next place to homeless a couple of times.
I've known the loss of family, friends, pets and belongings. I've known grief, ill health, disappointment and yes, pain and anger. Every human being suffers similar disasters and losses. We can't control those events in our lives. But we can control how we face them.
Everyday we make a choice. We choose to be content/happy. Or we choose to be discontent/angry. It's that simple. We choose to look around us at the blessings we have. Or we choose to see only what we don't have.
I suppose you can figure out what my choice is most days. Over time I learned choosing to be happy was easier on my innards. It isn't that difficult. It's mostly a matter of deciding to focus our thoughts on the positive things in our lives.
There have been times in my life when the most positive thing I could dredge up was the simple fact that I woke up in the morning. Hey--it's not a given, you know. When we go to bed at night, we expect to wake up, but there's no guarantee that will happen. Imagine that being the high point of your day.
But it was a positive and as I went through day after day, I clung to that with all my strength. Slowly, I picked out other positive aspects. The sun was shining. A sunflower was blooming. I didn't burn the oatmeal. I found a quarter on the sidewalk. I saw a butterfly.
Contentment doesn't arrive with trumpets and rainbows. It steals into our hearts one blessing at a time as we make room.