Living Well

January 22, 2010

Contentment has to Come from Inside You

Filed under: Uncategorized — dlneidert @ 10:29 am
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I taught an introductory course on business at the college level many years ago.  During the class we discussed marketing concepts at length, particularly promotion and advertising.  It was fun sharing the multifaceted stages of promotion and advertising used to capture a consumer’s attention.

One assignment students enjoyed was analyzing various advertising methods.  I asked them to consider only one question as they dissected these enticing ads; “What is this advertisement honestly selling?”  Students often reported that the bulk of advertising sells a better life with little effort required, pleasure as the only purpose for life, or sex.  Visually captivating sound bites often persuade consumers to spend billions of dollars for products they do not need in order to grasp a “better life.”

The French author Francois Duc de la Rochefouchauld wrote, “When we cannot find contentment in ourselves it is useless to seek it elsewhere.”  Goethe’s character, Dr. Faust, is the epitome of seeking contentment outside ourselves.  In Goethe’s story, Dr. Faust makes a pact with Mephistopheles—the devil—to provide contentment through pleasures found in the world around him.  But over time, Faust realizes there is no fulfillment in pleasure seeking.  Faust sadly acknowledges that satisfaction and meaning to life comes when we are content with ourselves, find love, and give compassion.

Seeking fulfillment and wholeness in things—possessions, fame, or power—can never lead to contentment if we are not internally at peace with what we are doing in life or who we are.  The Apostle Paul wrote, “…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want.”  Paul could accept whatever externally life provided because he knew internally whom he served and what brought him lasting life.  Paul was so sure of his purpose, calling, message, and the meaning of life that he went to his death in AD 64 rather than give it up for fleeting earthly existence (we believe Paul was beheaded under Nero’s reign during the Roman Empire).

Intimately knowing one’s life purpose and what is truly important does bring contentment.  Failing to know what will lead us to live well may cause us to make choices that will lead us to circumstances we never intended or thought would happen.

So today ponder, If I lost everything I owned materially, would I still be a contented person?  Why?  If I would not be content if I lost all my possessions, why would that be my response?  What does fame, fortune, or prestige give me that are necessary for my feeling of completeness and purpose?  If I discovered I would be dead in six months, what would I focus on?  Why would this draw my attention?

Blessings as you discover what really matters in life….Grace and Peace.

David Neidert

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