Buried Treasure

Yesterday I had an epiphany...an "Aha" moment.
Actually, it feels as if, after digging for nigh on 2 years, I've suddenly struck gold.

We all get those moments....it's as if after knowing something for years it suddenly comes to life.

For awhile now, something has been nagging at me; a restlessness. I thought maybe I needed more happiness in my life, so I started with common sense ideas. I figured that grace builds on nature, and there are some good tips out there;

get more sleep, eat right, slow down, make time for play, relationships (with God, too!), recognize that happiness does not come from stuff.

It was easy to use these ideas as a jumping off point for what we all know as Catholics;

practice of the Presence of God
practice of the present moment
love God, love others

And yet happiness is not a constant feeling. Even if we do everything right, happiness is still an emotion and as such it comes and goes. There had to be something more stable....

Another idea that drew me was minimalism. I found it was a fresh take on the concept of detachment from the things of this world. From there, it was easy to take minimalism to simplicity...a sort of decluttering of one's personal outlook and choices.
Richard Carlson's "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" is largely based on decluttering your thoughts to focus on the present moment  and in this way achieving happiness and peace.

Minimalism, simplicity....then the idea of authenticity came up; a sort of decluttering of one's defense mechanisms so that we can act true to our values....this authenticity or simplicity of one's nature attracted me as another way of looking at humility, but it was a bit nebulous....difficult to grasp as a guiding principle.

I began to pursue minimalism and simplicity as an ideal. All the write ups pointed out that minimalism frees us up to live a more meaningful life.
Although this is true and good, yet I found myself in a funny problem. The more I tried to simplify, the more frustrated I got. I felt pulled to simplify and own less, but my goal (to the degree I wanted) was impossible in a large homeschooling family. Striving to simplify was causing stress and discontent with my situation.

It was then that I had my "Aha" moment!

All of this....striving for happiness, minimalism, simplicity, even authenticity were all stepping stones to one thing:
Contentment was what I was missing, and I think I have been missing all my life.
Think about it. We live in a world of always striving for bigger better, more (or when that palls, less!)
but what are we really looking for...to be at peace...to be satisfied....to be content!

We are told that we have to keep learning and growing, or else we might as well be dead.
In fact, I just read something to that effect...that we should be content with what we have but not with who we are....that it is from a discontent with ourselves we will grow.

I totally disagree.
I believe that it is from a place of contentment that real learning and wisdom comes. Contentment is a positive outlook, an opening up to possibilities, while having a solid foundation.
I think we all have a sense of this. If you look at movies, the characters who are the most wise are those who are the most stable. Even though they had a hard life and often a troubled past, yet they have found peace. They are at peace with who they are and what they have become.
These are just secular examples, but they show our instinct for wisdom to come from stability.

Think about what St. Francis de Sales has to say in his "Introduction to the Devout Life"
he encourages the soul to try to do better, but always from a disposition of peace...he says to not be discouraged, discouragement is from the devil.
A saint was once lamenting that they had so little to offer Our Lord and He told them,"give Me your faults"
I would put forth the opinion that acceptance one's condition, (warts and all) is the beginning of humility. That is not to say we should not try to do better, but I think that acceptance of one's reality is a good foundation from which to start.

And what do you get if you take patient acceptance and inject the joy of gratitude?

Contentment is long suffering endurance that has been brought to life by the joy of gratitude.

It is the acceptance of who you are with the gratefulness that God made you.
It is the opposite of restlessness.
It is resting in God.
And this is the treasure that I hope to make my goal this year


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