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Contentment is the experience of satisfaction and being at ease in one's situation.

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Philosophy

Some of the earliest references to the state of contentment are found in the reference to the midah (personal attribute) of Samayach B’Chelko. The expression comes from the word samayach (root Sin-Mem-Chet) meaning "happiness, joy or contentment", and chelko (root Chet-Lamed-Kuf) meaning "portion, lot, or piece", and combined mean contentment with one’s lot in life. The attribute is referred to in the Mishnahic source which says

“Ben Zoma said: Who is rich? Those who are happy with their portion.”[1]

The origins of contentment in Jewish culture reflect an even older thinking reflected in the Book of Proverbs which says,

A joyful heart makes a cheerful face; A sad heart makes a despondent mood. All the days of a poor person are wretched, but contentment is a feast without end.[2]

The issue of contentment remained in Jewish thinking during the Middle Ages as evident for example in the writings of Solomon Ibn Gabirol, an eleventh-century Spanish poet-philosopher who taught,

Who seeks more than he needs, hinders himself from enjoying what he has. Seek what you need and give up what you need not. For in giving up what you don’t need, you’ll learn what you really do need. [3]

In Yoga (Yoga Sutras of Patanjali), movement or positions, breathing practices, and concentration, as well as the yamas and niyamas, can contribute to a physical state of contentment (santosha).

In a Buddhist sense, it is the freedom from anxiety, want or need. Contentment is the goal behind all goals because once achieved there is nothing to seek until it is lost. A living system cannot maintain contentment for very long as complete balance and harmony of forces means death. Living systems are a complex dance of forces which find a stability far from balance. Any attainment of balance is quickly met by rising pain which ends the momentary experience of satisfaction or contentment achieved. Buddha's task was to find the solution to this never ending descent into dissatisfaction or Dukkha. The Buddhist faith is based on the belief that he succeeded.

Most religions have some form of eternal bliss or heaven as their apparent goal often contrasted with eternal torment or dissatisfactions.[citation needed]

The source of all mentally created dissatisfactions appears to stem from the ability to compare and contrast experiences and find reality as one is living it to be less than ideal.[citation needed] The solution is to seek out ways to either make experienced reality conform to the ideal or to lower expectations to the level of the experienced.[citation needed] When one can live in the moment with expectations in harmony with experiences one has achieved the greatest mental contentment possible.[citation needed] Variants of this pursuit are found in all religions and manifest in many forms of meditation and prayerful devotions.

The American philosopher, Robert Bruce Raup wrote a book Complacency:The Foundation of Human Behavior (1925) in which he claimed that the human need for complacency (i.e. inner tranquility) was the hidden spring of human behavior. Dr. Raup made this the basis of his pedagogical theory, which he later used in his severe criticisms of the American Education system of the 1930s.

Citations and notes

  1. ^ Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 32a also found in Pirkei Avot 4:1
  2. ^ Proverbs 15:13 and 15, Rabbi Meir Leibush (Malbim)
  3. ^ Mivhar Hapeninim 155,161 as found in The Jewish Moral Virtues, Borowitz and Schwartz, p.164

References

  • Borowitz, Eugene B. & Weinman Schwartz, Frances, The Jewish Moral Virtues, Jewish Publication Society, 1999
  • Meir Leibush (Malbim), Rabbi, translated by Charles Wengrov and Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, Malbim on Mishley: The Book of Proverbs in Hebrew & English, Feldheim, 2001
  • Fohrman, David & Kasnett, Nesanel, Rabbis, editors, Babylonian Talmud Volume 3, Shabbat 32a, Volume I, ArtScroll / Mesorah, 1999

See also

External links

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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Contentment, or complacence, is the experience of satisfaction and being at ease in one's situation.

Sourced

  • Lo and behold! God made this
    starry wold,
    The maggot and the mold; lo and
    behold!
    He taught the grass contentment
    blade by blade,
    The sanctity of sameness in a shade.
  • Who is rich? Those who are happy with their portion.
    • Ben Zoma, reported in Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 32a also found in Pirkei Avot 4:1.
  • A joyful heart makes a cheerful face; A sad heart makes a despondent mood. All the days of a poor person are wretched, but contentment is a feast without end.
    • Rabbi Meir Leibush (Malbim), Proverbs 15:13 and 15.
  • Who seeks more than he needs, hinders himself from enjoying what he has. Seek what you need and give up what you need not. For in giving up what you don’t need, you’ll learn what you really do need.
    • Mivhar Hapeninim 155,161, reported in Borowitz and Schwartz, The Jewish Moral Virtues, p.164.

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)

Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).

  • Contentment is natural wealth; luxury, artificial poverty.
  • True contentment depends not upon what we have; a tub was large enough for Diogenes, but a world was too little for Alexander.
  • There are two sorts of content; one is connected with exertion, the other with habits of indolence. The first is a virtue; the other, a vice.
  • We cannot be young twice; we cannot turn upon our steps, and go back to gather the garlands we gathered ten years ago. And, therefore, with a gaze over on the cross upon the distant hills, and a remembrance always of the shadow land that lies beyond, let us endeavor to be contented with small things, and to make ourselves happy in the pleasantness of simple pleasures.
    • Holme Lee, p. 161.
  • My God, give me neither poverty nor riches; but whatsoever it may be Thy will to give, give me with it a heart which knows humbly to acquiesce in what is Thy will.
  • Come calm content serene and sweet,
    O gently guide my pilgrim feet
    To find thy hermit cell.
    • A. L. Barbauld, p. 161.

External links

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Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Contentment
disambiguation
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Contentment may refer to:


Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki


a state of mind in which one's desires are confined to his lot whatever it may be (1 Tim. 6:6; 2 Cor. 9:8). It is opposed to envy (James 3:16), avarice (Heb. 13:5), ambition (Prov. 13:10), anxiety (Matt. 6:25, 34), and repining (1 Cor. 10:10). It arises from the inward disposition, and is the offspring of humility, and of an intelligent consideration of the rectitude and benignity of divine providence (Ps. 96:1, 2; 145), the greatness of the divine promises (2 Pet. 1:4), and our own unworthiness (Gen. 32:10); as well as from the view the gospel opens up to us of rest and peace hereafter (Rom. 5:2).

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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