An issue I've dealt with for a good part of my adult life is contentment. Before you think I'm about to blast some Zen platitudes at you - I'm not. No one could be further from Zen than myself; I'm a worrier, a do-er, a planner, a can't sit still, frenetically paced sort of person. Though I see and understand the value of the sit and just "be" philosophy, I admit that my personality is particularly ill suited for it. Being content with something I feel could be ameliorated, however little, goes against my nature.
I have had, and continue to have trouble differentiating between contentment and what I think of as being either indifference or fatalism. If I think something needs to happen, I do my best to figure out how to bring that thing about. I've never understood inaction; it makes me uncomfortable. Now that I'm older, I realize that those feelings are due in large part to my inability to relax, breath deeply, and stop twitching, thinking, doing. I've always equated inaction with apathy, and many times it is, but it can also be a quiet assessment of the situation. It can be the ability to know that it won't work now, but might work later, so there is wisdom in contentment.
At this point, I'm trying to see contentment as a way of making the best of any current situation. I think you can actively be trying to change even while you are working on contentment. It's clearly a state of mind - contentment in what is now and what will come, while realizing that to get anywhere you must move forward.
It's hard to manufacture contentment, though. In many cases, it begins falsely, with you telling yourself that the now is just fine, until maybe one day it is. One of my biggest fears is that somewhere along the road of contentment, the ruts begin to get too large to climb out of. I'm terrified that in allowing myself to be content with the now, I will be "settling" for less than I know is possible in my life. I dread looking back on any part of my life with resentment towards myself (or others) over not trying hard enough. Yet at the same time, I don't want to be less than present and grateful for what my life is now.
So there you have it, my fractious feelings about contentment. I'm sure other people must feel the same way, especially as there is so much talk of contentment juxtaposed with an attitude that settling for less than anything you desire is cheating yourself. I don't necessarily subscribe wholly to either idea; I'm still at the mull and ponder stage. In fact, I might stay there my entire life.
What do you think about contentment? Do you believe that it's a must for a peaceful mind or do you think that rejecting it is the catalyst for change? Or perhaps you think I am completely mistaken on my definition of contentment?