Lesson of the Week
Content: I am satisfied.
“Can I lie down in the rainbows?” Brooke asked. Grandma replied, “Of course!” Brooke plopped down on the bed and tried to grab the rainbow. Try as hard as she could, she couldn’t hang on to the colorful light; she could only be present with it.
Content (pronounced kuhn-tent) is like the prism’s glow, a metaphor for the presence of ease. Ironically the word content comes from the root word meaning “hold”, but like the glow of the prism, you can’t really hold contentment, it holds you while you make yourself present with it.
No matter what your outward situation, inner content is what you need to get the job done. Try cleaning a room in pitch darkness. Now turn on the light. Illumined, the task may not be easier, but you can better see how to get the job done. Likewise, inner content gives you an enlightened, at ease, freed, full view. In this light the task may not be easier, but you will better discern what to do and how to do it.
To better understand, look at the opposite or antonyms for the word content:
|Freed||Pressed Down, Depressed|
Other antonyms for content are: annoyed, begrudging, complaining, crabby, faultfinding, grumbling, sniveling, vexed.
Society would have you believe being content renders you impotent. How can you operate effectively, be an advocate, and bring about change without being dissatisfied and disturbed? Well, the truth is, you can be effective and content. So then why not start, continue, and finish in the freed, full, grateful enlightened state rather than grovel and sink in the quicksand of being disturbed and annoyed? In fact, depression can be linked to dissatisfaction “gone wild”, dissatisfaction untreated, unattended, unaddressed.
Here is an example. A woman’s supervisor was irresponsible, dishonest, unethical, and cruel. The woman responded by being crabby. She complained to coworkers, sniveled with her husband, and felt the painful physical effects of being grumpy all the time – tight muscles, headaches, and an upset stomach. This state of being vexed wasn’t doing anything for her, her family, friends, or the people at work.
She determined that being dis-satisfied was not helping, but harming. She sat down one night and asked herself, “What would make me content at this job?” Her answer was to assess the problem and create an intervention for the solution.
She created an Excel “Supervisor Incident Report” with columns for dates, incidences, references to code, ethics, and policy violations, and witnesses present at each incident. Each day, for several months, she filled out the report form. In fact, the only thing that had changed about her day was filling out the incident report. She had come up with a plan to monitor, assess, and ultimately intervene.
She began to be free, at ease, fulfilled, and grateful. The completed Supervisor Incident Report was submitted to the director of her department. Based on her detailed observations, further investigations took place. Witnesses were called in to verify the supervisor’s inappropriate actions. A report came out in the news that this supervisor had a nefarious background. The woman soon discovered she had uncovered a larger more insidious problem. Her supervisor had a history with the law that would have prohibited him from working in his present field. Within a short period of time, the supervisor was fired. Coworkers came and thanked her for her intervention. One person said, “We knew something was wrong, but we didn’t know what to do.” Being content did what being disturbed individually and collectively could not do.
When the aggressive, mental suggestion comes to be the opposite of content, dip into these thoughts and feelings, but don’t wallow in them. Like Brooke, don’t trying to hold contentment, but simply be present with an illumined thought that step by step you will discover and do the right thing. It’s like turning on the lights in a dark room and thus being able to walk through it more safely. Like Brooke, you’ll be able to be with the rainbow, the metaphor for ease of mind.
“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.
- Helen Keller, American Author and Political Activist
Activity: The Content Discontent Frequency Inventory
Materials: Paper and pen or pencil
Time: Ten minutes for writing and ten minutes per person for discussion.
1. Fill out the Content Discontent Frequency Inventory. A copy can be downloaded by clicking on the following title:
2. Score the Content Discontent Frequency Inventory according to the instructions at the bottom of the inventory page.
3. Is your percentage in Column A higher than 10%? If so, how might this discontent be hindering you from solving the problem listed? What can you do to decrease the frequency of being discontent? If your score is lower than 10%, how is this contributing to your ability to solve the problem listed?
4. Is your percentage in Column B lower than 90%? If so, how might the lack of content be hindering you from solving the problem listed? What can you do to increase your content? If your score is above 90%, how is your content contributing to your ability to solve the problem listed?
5. Discuss your answers with your group and resolve to make any necessary changes to increase your content and decrease discontent.
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