The Art Of Contentment And Relinquishing Control.
Happiness is a common goal for every human being on this planet. We seek that which will make us happy.
Friendship, love, money, things — we all have different ideas of what exactly will bring us happiness and fulfillment. But we’re also professionals at thwarting our own happiness. We complain all day about the most mundane of things. We blame and try to pass on responsibility for our lives to others.
We take advantage of our relationships, and often treat those closest to us the worst. We thwart our own success by allowing self-deprecating thoughts to pervade our minds. We eat food that we know we’d be better off not eating. We numb, we wallow, and we wonder, why aren’t we happy?
Because if we do these things, deep down we don’t want happiness, we want the pain, some of us are even addicted to it. It might sound absurd, but it’s not too far-fetched to postulate that we can become addicted to our own stress hormones. Why do some crave the adrenaline rush of jumping out of a plane or driving really fast?
Adrenaline is an addictive hormone, and we can become addicted to it in a similar way that we become addicted to the dopamine release that occurs when you snort a line or have great sex.
Cortisol, the stress hormone, is addictive, and sneaky as fuck. It’ll creep up into your life, and take over a little bit at a time, until one day a realization occurs. I’m not happy. I want to be happy, but I feel like a million pounds of suffering rests on my shoulders and my heart just won’t rest easy.
I write this in first person because I’ve experienced it, and I know I’m not alone. We weren’t biologically designed to be in stress mode all the time; it’s downright dangerous, and yet so many can’t seem to escape it. What if we could take control of our stress and slowly end our addiction to drama and stress, and maybe even be happy?
It boils down to how bad we want to let go of our pain and anguish. There’s so much in life that we have no control over, yet we want control. We’re often taught that we need it, we want others to do what we want, we want the world to be a certain way, and when it isn’t, our expectations crumble into a broken pile of shattered hopes.
Everyone will say they want to be happy, but do we even know what brings true happiness? What if, instead of happiness, we sought contentment?
Happiness can never be a static thing; there will always be sadness in the world, and circumstances that bring us to our knees with compassion and sorrow. Contentment is reached when we let go of the need to control everything. But there’s a fine line between letting go of control and not taking responsibility.
Relationships are a perfect example, blending the relinquishment of control with taking responsibility for how things play out.
We must do our best, and continually question ourselves on whether our best is really our best. At the same time, we’re relating to another being, with entirely different experiences, whom we have absolutely no control over. In the end, it has to be understood that we can’t control another, and we must accept that we’re all in different places, and we all have different lessons to learn.
The only place we have even a little bit of control is in our own lives. Even then it’s arguable that we can control our outward experiences. Inner experiences are easier harnessed; if we can get a grip on our thoughts, we have a fighting chance at finding inner contentment.
That little voice that repeats every negative thing anyone has ever said about us over and over again? Tell it to shut the fuck up. Have the inner knowledge and strength to say No More, to know that we all deserve better. We’ve all made mistakes, but we don’t have to live in them. Pain is synonymous with existence, but we don’t have to allow it to take over.
It’s in our hands, and no one else’s.
Contentment has nothing to do with external circumstances. I’ve met disparaged doctors and broken down bankers, hungry homeless who share regardless, and kids who’ve lost their parents and are still able to see the light.
Perspective is hard to shift when our stress hormones are in the driver’s seat, I get it. Having specific stress-relieving practices in place helps. Breathing, movement, writing, being in nature — all help reduce stress. When a confrontation occurs and we feel our stress hormones firing, find the strength to walk away until they’ve dissipated.
Above all, we must know that there is more to life than living in our past hurts, and worrying about our future ones. Contentment is in our own hands.
Chantelle Zakariasen is purposefully driven to help people live more fulfilling lives. She’s a food-lover, nature and travel junkie, and blogs at Naked Cuisine, where she transforms crappy foods into magical health bombs. She’s also a freelance writer and copywriter for health and wellness practitioners, and helps them hone in on their most authentic nitty-gritty message. Check out her free guide to getting noticed in the wellness industry and beyond. On the side, she longs to understand what’s going on in her toddler’s brain, and puts balsamic reduction on almost everything.