“After a while, you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul. And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning and company doesn’t mean security. And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts and presents aren’t promises. You begin to accept your defeats.
With your head up and your eyes open. With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child. And you learn to build all your roads on today because tomorrow is too uncertain for plans. And futures have a way of falling down in midflight. And after a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers. And you learn that you really can endure . . . that you really are strong. That you really do have worth . . . and you learn . . . and you learn . . .”
Again, I am reminded of how lessons continue to repeat themselves until we are ready to learn, until we are willing to learn in some cases. The particular quote above was one that was given to me by a friend over ten years ago. At the time, I understood it superficially, but I can honestly say, I didn’t want to accept what it had to say at its core. As I was going through some old folders a couple of weeks ago, I happened upon it again, and this time I was ready for the lesson.
Whether taught in your familial culture, social culture, religious culture or any other type of culture you grew up in, many of us, including myself, grew up with the notion, the belief, that we weren’t enough.
Please don’t misunderstand, I have amazing, supportive parents, but the social culture I grew up in reinforced that idea I needed something or someone else to attain completion - that happiness was somewhere out in the future, and I would have to chase it down or let someone bring it to me.
Thankfully, what I have learned is that neither are correct.
Here is the lesson I learned: Contentment, not happiness, is what should be the goal. Contentment, therefore, is the responsibility of each person to seek for themselves. No one can give us true contentment. No one can hand it to us on a platter, and voilà, contentment commences to be felt for all eternity. No contract, professionally or personally, establishes an infinite amount of contentment in our lives.
Contentment comes into fruition when each one of us does the work for ourselves. When we take the time to investigate, to be the detectives of who we uniquely are, when we take the time to listen, really listen to what our internal voice is telling us, and when we don’t take the easy road out, numbing ourselves with addictions or other bad behaviors, but instead, get down, lean forward and take on the challenge of discovering what makes our souls sing.
It is after finding contentment that you can fully, completely and healthily be in a relationship void of co-dependency. It is after finding contentment that you can truly live in the moment, knowing your boundaries, having the discipline to say no when for you it is necessary and having the acceptance of realizing that not everything lasts forever. After all, once we’ve learned the lesson, the teacher lets go, so that we can move closer to our best life.
So today, take a moment to look within and ask yourself if you are expecting something else or someone else to make you happy. And the best thing you can do is to be honest when you respond because that will be the first step toward finding your very own, hard fought for and much deserved, contentment.