I first came to realize the important role of contentment while I was still battling Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. In those days, pain and fatigue dogged my every move. Even if I had one good day, I knew that it was only a matter of time before I had another bad bout. For a long time, depression was my constant companion. To put it mildly, I was pretty miserable.
Still, there`s something really interesting that comes with chronic illness. You wake up each day with these horrible symptoms. You know they aren`t going to go away (not for very long anyway). They limit you. You simply don’t have enough energy to do everything. Suddenly things that you used to do are impossible.
The interesting thing is that even in this picture of quasi-hell, life continues. You get up each day. You wake up and figure out if it`s going to be a good day or a bad one. Then, you plan your activities accordingly. You prioritize because you are forced to do so.
Even without realizing it, you start taking better care of yourself. You rest because the symptoms immobilize you otherwise. You begin to eat better because every ounce of energy is valuable. Sometimes, if you are really lucky, you even start to see patterns in the symptoms so that you can react before these issues get to the point of impairment.
At some point in my own experience, I came to an acceptance. I certainly wasn`t going to let these symptoms stop me from living a good life but I was beginning to realize the wisdom that my body was trying to impart upon me. I pushed too hard, often just for the sake of pushing. I wasted my energy resources needlessly. Was it really that big of a surprise that my body finally got sick and tired of it?
With this realization, I started directing my energy towards listening to my body. I soon found out it was an amazing teacher.
All the things I’d never learnt like how to focus my energy on the important things, how to let go of stuff that really didn’t matter, and when to rest (okay, still working on that one). Everything I needed to learn was right there, within me, just waiting for me to listen.
I remember, after a particularly challenging day, I got this strange feeling. A warmth coming from within. It was like the feeling I get when I checked on my children as they sleep peacefully. That feeling that says everything is alright and everything is perfect just as it is.
In the coming months, I noticed that feeling more and more. However, unlike happiness that fades with time or crumbles when things go badly, this peaceful feeling endured. In fact, it seemed to help sustain me during those tough days. It was even there when everything else in life seemed to fall apart.
I’ve come to understand that this feeling is contentment. Contentment is a form of love that comes from within. It’s touching a piece of your true self, that part that is unchangeable and unshakable. It could even be said that contentment is unconditional love.