Monday, June 05, 2017

On Being Content

(Last night in the park. Sunday nights in June are perfect for listening to Utah Premier Brass and playing cards.)

I've been thinking lately about the tendency 
we sometimes have as humans to not be content.

I'm not sure why that is.

I've had Alma's stunning one-liner in my mind:

"For I ought to be content with the things 
which the Lord hath allotted unto me."
(from The Book of Mormon; Alma 29:3)

And it's funny because it's all relative, right?

I could have an exasperating, exhausting day with my kids, and vent about it. And someone who hardly sees their children---or the woman who isn't able to have any children---could wonder how I could possibly say that. Don't I know how lucky I am?

Someone who is complaining about their job could be overheard by someone who has been out of work for months---and that person would find themselves marveling at another person's ingratitude for such a great blessing.

I've listened to women complain about their husbands being late or the way they did or didn't do something, or general frustrations about how they navigate the world. And in those moments, I've found myself thinking---only in my head, of course---that they don't realize what they have, what a blessing it is to have a companion who loves you---even if they're imperfect. (Aren't we all?) (And frankly, I can convict myself here. Now, being single, I can remember times when I was married where I was unappreciative or thoughtless.) 

And it gives me pause.

It makes me ask myself how I'm missing out on gratitude today in any of my relationships or in any of my life's circumstances---without even seeing it (like the examples above).
And it's empowering to realize that all of us can take any situation in life that is frustrating or sad and look at it another way, opting to see it through a lens of gratitude.

I'm really inspired by that, and it's challenging me, 
right now, as I write this, to be more mindful.

Also, this.

A while back, I watched a TED talk by Ben Saunders. He's an arctic explorer, a guy who has trekked to both the north and south poles. As I listened to him, I was really moved by something he said as he reflected on achieving this long-time goal of his. I think his words speak to the idea of appreciating the journey as it's happening---whatever it is---and his words have stayed with me. 

"If I'm honest, Antartica challenged me and humbled me so deeply that I'm not sure I'll ever be able to put it into words. I'm still struggling to piece together my thoughts. That I'm standing here telling you this story is proof that we all can accomplish great things through ambition, through passion, through sheer stubbornness, by refusing to quit---that if you dream something hard does indeed come to pass. But I'm also standing here saying, 'You know what? That cliché about the journey being more important than the destination? There's something in that.' The closer I got to my finish line...the more I started to realize that the biggest lesson that this very long, very hard walk might be teaching me is that happiness is not a finish line---that for us humans, the perfection that so many of us seem to dream of might not ever be truly attainable, and that if we can't feel content here, today, now, on our journeys, amidst the mess and the striving that we all inhabit---the open loops, the half finished to-do lists, 
the could-do-better-next-times---then we might never feel it."

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