I consider myself really lucky to be surrounded by some amazing people. Truly blessed. Friends, family, colleagues and even just acquaintances. I’m lucky to have a wide network of brilliant people from different walks of life but also different cities and cultures. I can count friends in New York, London, Athens, Cyprus, Dubai, Miami, L.A, San Francisco, Austin, all the way to India (If I’ve left any out I apologise:))
Yet I don’t know that many people who – despite their successes- are truly truly content. I find that most people are always on a never ending quest. Quest for more of whatever it is they crave. One of life’s paradoxes is in fact that the more we get the more we want, and the more we want the more discontented we become. There’s a fine line between ambition and greed, and an equally fine line between complacency and contentment.
I don’t believe in complacency. I believe that no matter how much anyone has achieved they cannot rest their laurels. There’s always more to do, more to learn and more to give. No success should be taken for granted – we can all lose what we have much faster than it took us to acquire it.
I do however believe in contentment. One needs to be truly at peace with what they have in order to be happy. We need to remind ourselves of the good in our life and live in the moment in order to really take it all in and appreciate it. Cliche as it may sound most people I know do not live in the moment. They are always in anticipation of what comes next. They are too busy planning, worrying or sharing the moment with others on social media instead of BEING in it.
2016 has been the first year for me when I’ve really achieved contentment (or at least more so than previously). For me it comes with a number of things. Appreciating the ‘now’ is a crucial starting point. But it’s also about having a purpose and doing good things for you and those around you. It’s about being selfless, giving, being generous and altruistic and just seeing the bigger picture. Its about showing heart!
So many people around us focus on the micro instead of the macro. I find it puzzling. As the expression goes, “in the grander scheme of things” most things that worry us or we end up losing time over don’t actually matter. They just don’t. We obsess over things that are trivial, unimportant, often out of pettiness and sometimes as a ‘matter of principle’.
This ‘matter of principle’ is B.S. in my view. Make seeing the bigger picture the principe. Make living life, being in the moment, seeing beyond the forest, the principle. Make showing heart, the principle. Make being the bigger person the principle. People hold grudges, let their ego get in the way, do things ‘tit for tat’… For what? How does that make you happier or more content?
The ‘eye for an eye’ principle can never make us content: there will always be someone out there who harmed you in some small way, who hurt you intentionally or not or who wants to, who is jealous of you, who infuriated you for some reason or other. In the end we have a choice: to either keep chasing those people – which makes us just like them – or to be the bigger person. Only then can we really achieve true contentment.
So as the year comes to a close and I reflect back, for me what’s made me reach contentment is not the goals I’ve hit or ‘successes’ I’ve had In the year. It’s not all the ‘hard metrics’ per se, or the things I bought or even the experiences I’ve had. Of course those matter too but with them alone I feel incomplete.
For me it’s been all those little things I’ve done for other people with no agenda, purely out of heart. It’s the times I let my ego get out of the way and be the bigger person when someone’s been petty with me. It’s when I let a situation go because I thought ‘in the grander scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter’. It’s when I took the time to really listen to a friends problems and genuinely went out of my way to help. It’s when I showed that I actually care and I did something about it when others were just too busy micromanaging life and being self-absorbed. It’s when I took time for things that would not benefit me in any way. It’s when by doing something small for someone I saw a big glow of happiness on their face. It’s when I completely switched off in front of a beautiful setting sipping a cocktail and just let myself take it in. It’s when I turned a blind eye when someone tried to fool or outwit me and let them think they got away with it unnoticed because you know what – embarrassing them so that you feel superior or smarter or wittier really only just makes you more like them.
Why are so many people so small-minded and petty then I ask myself. The answer is because we tend to measure gratification in terms of what’s in it for us. We are naturally wired to maximise for what we get in life, so naturally our metric of success for any action is ROI (return on investment) on what we give. Why should you treat someone to something nice unless you want something from them in return?
The answer is contentment. For you and those around you. And because by doing so the world just become a tiny bit better.