I’m beginning to recognise that real happiness isn’t something large and looming on the horizon ahead but something small, numerous and already here. A decent breakfast. The warm sunset. The smile of someone you love. Your little everyday joys all lined up in a row.
Beau Taplin // L i t t l e E v e r y d a y J o y s
You know what’s better than getting everything you want in life? Not wanting it in the first place! Boy, that’s liberating! Think about it, most of our anguish is caused by unmet desires, cravings, and longing for so many things, people, or experiences. But if we train ourselves to be grateful for what we have instead of feeling deprived of what we don’t, then happiness is not about the glass being half full instead of half empty, it’s a result of being grateful that we have a glass in the first place! Try it out sometime, and you’ll see the smiling is inevitable.
To live a life of full contentment, one must accept everything that they are. Every inch. Every flaw. Completely surrender oneself to the unchangeable flow of the universe. We are who we are. Things will occur the way they do. This is life; learn to be content with it.
Eudaimonia is an Ancient Greek word, particularly emphasised by the philosophers Plato and Aristotle, that deserves wider currency because it perfectly corrects the shortfalls in one of the most central but troubling terms in our contemporary idiom: happiness.
When we nowadays try to articulate the purpose of our lives, we commonly have recourse to the word happiness. We tell ourselves and others that the ultimate rationale for our jobs, our relationships and the conduct of our day to day lives is the pursuit of happiness. It sounds like an innocent and pleasant enough idea, but excessive reliance on the term means that we are frequently unfairly tempted to exit or at least heavily question a great many testing but worthwhile situations.
The Ancient Greeks resolutely did not believe that the purpose of life was to be happy; they proposed that it was to achieve Eudaimonia, a word which has been best translated as ‘fulfilment’.
What distinguishes happiness from fulfilment is pain. It is eminently possible to be fulfilled and - at the same time - under pressure, suffering physically or mentally, overburdened and, quite frequently, in a rather tetchy mood. This is a psychological nuance that the word happiness makes it hard to capture; for it is tricky to speak of being happy yet unhappy or happy yet suffering. However, such a combination is readily accommodated within the dignified and noble-sounding idea of Eudaimonia.
The word encourages us to trust that many of life’s most worthwhile projects will at points be quite at odds with contentment and yet are worth pursuing nevertheless. Properly exploring our professional talents, managing a household, keeping a relationship going, creating a new business venture or work of art… none of these lofty goals will probably leave us cheerful and grinning on a quotidian basis. They will, in fact, involve us in all manner of challenges that exhaust and ennervate us. And yet we will perhaps, at the end of our lives, still feel that these tasks were worth undertaking. We’ll have sampled something deeper and more interesting than happiness.
With the word Eudaimonia in mind, we can stop imagining that we are aiming for a pain-free existence - and then berating ourselves unfairly for being in a bad mood. We’ll know that we are trying to do something far more important than smile, that we are striving to do justice to our full human potential.
A surprise bday present for a lovely friend of mine :) This was actually quite a challenge, because I couldn’t very well ask her “what color is your couch” or “can you take a better picture of that pillow of yours ?” ! So I had to do some photo excavating from her FB and IG accounts and make do with what I could find haha.
Imagine you were about to move into your dream house and then all of a sudden, everything fell through and you were forced to stay in your current house for another year. Rightfully so, you would be frustrated. But in that moment you have two choices: you can either spend the whole year complaining because you can no longer move into your dream house, or you can start to see your current house in a new way. That bedroom that seemed so boring? You can paint the walls. That kitchen that seemed outdated? You can change the knobs on the cabinet and replace the tiles on the floor. The living room that was nothing exciting? You can learn how to make new curtains or a new rug for the floor. You can start to appreciate and make the most of what was already there.
This is what it means to learn to be content with you have. Being content with what you have is not settling for what you have. It is learning to see what you already have in a way you might have otherwise overlooked.
Through contentment, God wants to show you the many beautiful and intricate details of what He is already doing in your life that you may have otherwise overlooked, had you only been focused on what you don’t have yet.
You may not have your dream house, your dream job, or your dream family yet, but by learning to be content with what you have, God wants you to see the beauty in the life He has already laid in front of you.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. - Philippians 4:11
Written by @morganhnichols for #TheDevoCo
Contentment with the decree of Allāh is appropriate - this should be your reliance. The Contentment with Allāh’s decree is a very high Maqām.
Rābiʿa al-ʿAdawiyya was asked how do you know if someone is content with Allāh’s decree. She replied by saying ‘When you feel the same joy in periods of tribulation as you do during periods of blessing’.
Why does the sound of rain gently tapping on the roof and windows instantly relieve stress? It is a reminder of survival, an appreciation for being safe, dry, and warm, the most basic of needs. Therein lies a secret to contentment; to remind ourselves regularly of the satisfaction of our basic needs, to appreciate another moment of survival, and forget the extraneous factors that cause us undue stress.
People often ask what you want your future to look like. Most say money and material wealth, followed by a happiness that can only be enjoyed when accompanied by the prior. When I think of my future, I think of foreign soil, dancing in the streets, singing with man’s best friend, and if I’m lucky, falling asleep next to the same person every night. When I think of my future, I think of the experiences I’ll take with me beyond the grave, not the possessions I’ll leave behind when I go.
Loch Achray by Tim Haynes Via Flickr: Drive road. Turn corner. See view. Find parking spot. Grab camera. Trot back and take photo. Admire light and reflection.
Such is the way of the roadside photographer, anyway