A reoccurring theme for discussion in my head is one that revolves around being content.
You see, I believe that it is important to be content with today’s life, because there is no tomorrow. And thus, I generally feel very content.
Yet, I can feel that this feeling of contentness is perhaps holding me back, in that I lack serious frustrations with my lot today to motivate me to push myself forward.
I have small motivations – for example, an inability to communicate my thoughts on the new database with my boss has pushed me back to study …yet I feel I don’t feel a general discontent with my situation in general.
Perhaps I’ve thought and felt myself into a corner.
Maybe you need to be content with what you are doing, but not necessarily with the world.
You can be discontent about things, but as long as you are content with what you are doing towards them.. say, for me, I’m discontent with my Japanese ability, but I’m studying enough that I’m content with what I’m doing to remedy the situation. If that makes sense?
Thanks for the comment jenny 🙂
That does indeed make sense, I like that way of thinking.
In writing that brief blog I was very much focusing upon my ‘immediate’ life, and not the the wider world, in which I see many things that I am not content with.
Your comment has got me thinking that recently, perhaps my focus has slipped, from important ‘things’ out there in the world, to the relative unimportance of my own private life.
I think it’s only natural in a way, as arriving in Japan I needed to find a job, to establish a comfortable home, to establish a regular exercise routine, to start learning Japanese again – I feel these are a necessary base which I can then work from to deal with outside stuff.
Recently I have very much felt that I’ve reached a plateau with the above personal goals, and I think that has led me to kind of stop making an effort. I’ve been sitting back and relaxing, feeling that the task is accomplished.
Realising this now, I can reassign my focus to the external world. To making changes that reach beyond my daily life.
Hmm. Thanks for helping me think about this a bit more 🙂
Kinda of reminds me of what my brother once told me: Don’t be afraid to set your goals high、just so you won’t run out of ledges to cling on to.
Oh alright, he didn’t say it that way, but I got the point. I always had the same dream as yours: to be in Japan and to establish myself here.
My bro said that it’s too shallow and I should go extend my reach a bit more.
You inspire me, hope to be as successful as you someday.
It reminds me of steps on the path to man of knowledge – after banishing fear, one gains a clarity of vision – it appears to him that nothing is hidden from him and everything is transparent. He knows exactly what has to be done and what will the effect be.
But the clarity of view is blinding, and the person who doesn’t control it, thinks that everything is in his reach – by his arm length – and he doesn’t feel the necessity to strive for it. One stalls when he should run, and in the end he looses all his thirst for knowledge.
But the clarity which banished his fear will never leave him…
In studying Zen, this has been an ongoing difficulty for me, too. I think analogies can make it difficult sometimes… for example, how can one stand still and move forward at the same time (unless one was on a conveyor belt…)? Perhaps the image of running forward while looking down at the ground is better: not looking or worrying about your destination but simply making progress because that's what we do…anyway, those are my thoughts… I'd also like to thank you for your awesome podcasts. They were informative, entertaining, and caused me to laugh-out-loud on the Chicago El train many times while listening to your episodes (which I then received odd looks from the quiet, tired, commuters… So I decided to a create a poster with your picture on it, saying "It's Joseph's Fault –>" to hold up whenever my laughing disturbed them…ok, j/k on that last part…) Thank you!
Personally, I feel people waste their lives setting irrelevant goals – gaining money, positions in their company, businesses, etc. When you pack it all in and head off to whatever awaits, there are only two things that can possibly matter. One is the effect you had on the people you touched with your life. Two is the kind of person that you developed into. The rest is just résumé crap that doesn’t matter at all except to those who are shallow.
Most people are better at trying to influence or assist those around them and setting goals to that end than improving themselves, but I think it’s a far greater challenge to be a better person than anything else. Unfortunately, the world assigns no status or monetary value to being a fulfilled, self-actualized, happy person so few people value that goal. However, all of the problems we face as a species would vanish if everyone were fulfilled, self-actualized and happy because then they’d be less caught up in ego issues like doing things that other people admire and respect or gaining material wealth and more interested in making the world a better place for everyone.
It’s okay to be complacent for awhile. You’ve been in Japan for about 3 months now, right? And you’ve been working 7 days a week either full or part-time. And you think you’re too comfortable? It’s not like you’ve been twiddling your thumbs everyday.
It’s okay to be content. In fact, it’s good to be content as long as you have no reason to be discontent. Part of what fuels suffering in the world is manufactured discontent, particularly amongst those living in developed and advanced cultures. I’m pretty sure most tribal people never sat around thinking they were too satisfied and should be more dissatisfied to motivate themselves to drum up some goals so they could start meeting them. One of these days, you should read “Original Wisdom: Stories of an Ancient Way of Knowing” by Robert Wolff. I think it’ll provide you with some clarity on this point.
thanks for your comments all, you’ve all got me thinking further. I’ll reply individually soon.
In addition to what I said up there, I know that being content doesn’t give you the motivation to change stuff, but being discontent can also stop you from even trying, because you feel like you won’t be able to change anything anyway. So even if you are feeling like you don’t have motivation to change stuff that much, at least you’re not thoroughly dissatisfied with where you are now, unlike some people (um, me), hehe. I feel like I’m spending all of my time trying to make peace with the fact that how I am now is going to have to be how I am for a couple more months, and I should just get used to it!