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Bestow � Guidelines for Mastering the Art of Contentment
by Steve Morris

    Poor is not the person who has too little, but the person who craves more. Lucious Annaeus Seneca

    We live in a consumer driven society. Studies show consumerism is up and it is not likely it will slow. Bigger, better, faster. We aim to buy the latest model plasma TV, the fastest designer car, the biggest house, latest phone, computer or MP3 player and almost instantly the model we have strived so hard to possess gets superceded and the process repeats itself.

    When one relies on material possessions to feel a sense of satisfaction it is inevitably short lived. There will always be someone or something else that is better or more desirable than what you have, leading to feelings of dissatisfaction.

    Our desire and drive to acquire, consume and possess physical or emotional resources lead us towards insecurity and lack of fulfillment. Like drinking salty water, it increases our thirst rather than satisfying it.

    The key to contentment lies in our ability to develop our own contentment without the need to posses the physical and material. This will allow feelings of satisfaction and security to emerge and in turn enable you to be generous and giving.

    To let go of this craving there are simple guidelines you can follow which when practiced will ultimately lead to lasting feelings of contentment.

    1. Choose to be content with what you have � give thanks for everything

    Stop thinking about what you don�t have. Reflect on all that you do have and have had. Examine yourself from the perspective of a naked child in Bangladesh, or mother of a starving child in war torn Africa. Look at yourself from their vantage and think again or your countless blessings.

    2. Shed your addictions; experience abstinence for one hour, one day, etc. � kick a bad habit

    We all have addictions of one kind or another. Addictions have a debilitating effect on our mind as well as our body, eroding our willpower and rendering one a hostage to his own addictions. While your body and mind may have developed a chemical and/or emotional attachment to a particular substance, your spirit may be free. Drawing on your spiritual strength to help you break free for just one day. As you succeed, your spirit does too.

    3. Meditate on the impermanence of wealth, reputation and worldly success

    All things are impermanent. Everything we have today can be taken from us. Chasing the impermanent in order to bring us happiness is ultimately a hollow pursuit. If you rely on wealth to bring happiness , this happiness will not be everlasting. Eventually you will be without your wealth or unhappy with it. Even if you can catch on to something you want to possess, you can do so only momentarily. Instead, seek lasting happiness without trying to own or possess that which can not be possessed. Choose to be happy and then share that happiness with others.

    4. Be generous by giving to others � don�t accumulate wealth while others starve

    Our materially rich lifestyle has exacerbated people�s feelings of insecurity. In an effort to feel secure we consume or seek to consume or acquire material wealth. The by-product of consumption is waste, human or otherwise. To avoid this consumption-waste cycle begin to cut back your material consumption. Donate your possessions that are underutilized to those who really need them. If you don�t need it don�t take it and if something is given to you, see that it is well used.

    5. Restrict the number of choices to be made in a day � simplify your life by requiring less

    The more we require or desire, the more difficult it becomes to achieve contentment. Aim to need less and these needs will be more easily meet. Fewer choices to be made regarding the acquisition, maintenance and protection of possessions and consumables allows more time and thinking space for personal enrichment. Paring down will lead to an increased sense of security if it is you who is making the decision to pare down. Give up one habit or decision or possession or the craving for a possession each day.

    6. Give in order to receive � initiate the flow of abundance

    The flow of abundance is greatest when there is ample generosity and little, if any, leakages or blockages. To �prime the pump� to sort of speak, you must give in order to receive. You will find the more you give the more giving from others you will benefit from. If you want love, give love, if you want money, give money, if you want wisdom, then offer your own.

    7. Keep your craving in check by avoiding excesses � remember, everything in moderation.

    You can have too much of a good thing! Gorging ourselves on what we first enjoy eventually leads to feelings of pain and discomfort. If we lose control to our craving we are victim to its excesses. Learn to recognize when your craving is pulling you forward rather than your �well balanced� self, pause to reflect or simply extend a pause in your consumption of what ever you crave. Decide if you have had enough rather than allowing yourself to be taken forward to excesses by your craving.

    It is important to remember that physical sensations are all short lived. Even if we could string a lifetime of pleasing sensations together, each new sensation would have to be greater and more pleasing than the last, or a sense of dissatisfaction will arise in spite of the previously pleasant sensations. Pleasantness is relative, we choose its relative center. This means that we can define anything as pleasant if we choose. Therein lies the key to our contentment.

    � Steve Morris is the author of several highly acclaimed personal and leadership development books and resources including Glorious Leadership!, Glorious Living!, Sowing the Seeds of Glorious Living!, as well as the fable, The Boy who Climbed the Mountain. Steve�s work has appeared in The Asian Wall Street Journal, The Straits Times, Asian Business, Asia Manager, Today's Manager, The Economic Bulletin, and Britain in Business. He has appeared on numerous TV and radio shows as a guest expert on the workplace and leadership in Asia. Steve runs the highly successful leadership consultancy, Steve Morris Associates out of Asia while making regular trips to the US for appearances and consulting assignments. Visit Steve at www.gloriousliving.org.