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On Contentment

October 1, 2009

This is a reply to Jonathan at Illuminated Mind, in particular his post entitled Your Comfort Is Not Important.

In that post, Jonathan pretty much tells us that feeling good doesn’t matter – rather, the feeling of contentment – and we should do things that get us out of our comfort zones in order to feel more alive. He says:

Choose to act in a way that may scare you, may not make you feel good, but will leave you feeling fulfilled. Choose the path that calls to your heart; the one that may be dark, obscure, and strewn with obstacles. That is the path worth traveling.

Whether you are compelled to do something comfortable or not, your job is to face the calling. Do not think about comfort or discomfort. Do what would make you feel most alive.

On a very basic level, I find myself in agreement with what Jonathan wrote. I’m a fan of intentionally going out of our comfort zones in order to make our egos realize that we really have nothing to fear. That leads to a lot of growth, and we shed a lot of fears in the process. Oftentimes, for people blinded by fear, doing exactly what they fear doing is the best way to make people feel alive. Little by little, they start living on their own terms, instead of being kept in their little boxes by fear. In this way, Jonathan’s advice is excellent.

But there isn’t a distinction made between contentment because of supplication to fear and contentment due to following your values and taking right action in life. Jonathan gets a little extreme when he says, “Feeling good is not important,” and though I understand what he means, I think our ultimate goal is to feel good, regardless of whether it’s through arbitrary labels like “fulfillment” and “harmony”. Some forms of feeling good last longer than others, this is true. But feeling good, I think, is the thing that should DRIVE US. (yet again, this will have to be expressed in a later post).

I bet Jonathan would agree that we would feel supremely good if we were fulfilled. But isn’t feeling good not important?

Yes, it is important, but like everything else, it depends on the source of the good feelings. If you are content because you are too afraid to break out of your comfort zone and really feel “alive”, then that has to be changed, per Jonathan’s advice. You have to break the cycle somehow, because your “happiness” or good feelings while living in fear just come about because you seek to escape from your fear. Your “happiness” is an illusion, because you are afraid of challenges, afraid of harming your ego. It is not lasting, and it does not truly exist because you seek to run from yourself rather than meet your fears head on. You cannot feel good for any extended period of time because your fears will always find a way to haunt you.

On the other hand, if you are “egoless” and act through your own intentions, feel alive, and live by your values, you’re obviously going to feel content with yourself all the time. But is that bad? Of course not; that is the goal! Finding a near-permanent state of happiness is what I believe everyone is looking for in life – and it can be had, through fulfillment (or, at least, I’d like to believe that it’s permanent. Where I’m at right now, I feel content in my own skin all the time, but I’m only brimming with good energy about 70% of the time). In this case, feeling good all the time, as a celebration of yourself, your sense of feeling alive, is a tremendously excellent thing. It is not to be ignored; it is to be relished.

So, remember: feeling good’s legitimacy depends on its source. If it springs from an avoidance of fear, it is an illusion; if it springs from living in step with your values and loving being alive, it is real and to be cherished.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 2, 2009 1:56 am

    Great points, dude! 🙂

    I read his, and it didn’t sit well with me. Yes, the post fit the image of his blog but it just didn’t make as much sense to me.

  2. October 2, 2009 8:53 pm

    Nazim:

    Thanks for your comment. I agree with a lot of what Jonathan said, don’t get me wrong, but it’s written specifically for the people who are really racked by fear and can’t get out of their comfort zones. Those of us who are more centered will obviously look at it and see that the post isn’t really meant for us (hence our incredulous reactions to it).

  3. October 3, 2009 8:47 am

    “Feeling good doesn’t matter”? To whom? Perhaps not to the author you quoted, but to others of us it’s very nearly ALL that matters.
    As for fear…I’m more in favor of using techniques to dispel the fear (of which I have several) than to “force” myself or another to “face” those fears. With the fear-response no longer active in the human biosystem, the person can then make a reasoned and good feeling choice whether to do…or not.
    I’m in agreement that going through life racked with fears is not the preferred way.
    Good thoughts; good post; good ta seeya!

    • October 4, 2009 12:14 am

      @ Muse:

      Of course, that’s exactly the irony that I’m pointing out. It’s important to realize that that comment was made in reference to “comfort”, not actually feeling good.

      Thanks for the comment!

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