Being Content: In other words

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Words are used to communicate ideas.

How you define something, shapes how you approach it.

When you define a person as a friend, you behave in a loving, friendly manner.

When you define a situation as hostile, you behave in a guarded, careful manner.

How you use certain words can have a huge impact on how you approach life.

Changing the words, can your approach and attitude to life.

Here are some words you should consider using more in conversations with yourself and others about how you feel.

If you find yourself asking:

Am I happy?

Maybe consider replacing the question with:

Do I have [insert word] in my life?

  • Peace of mind
  • Contentment
  • Fulfilment
  • Enjoyment
  • Laughter
  • Well-being
  • Cheerfulness
  • Playfulness
  • Hopefulness
  • Blessedness
  • Stability
  • Gratitude

The secret of contentment is the realisation that life is a gift, not a right.

PS: You don’t need experience all of them; you don’t.

Being Content: In a world that preaches happiness

Happiness

The world seems to be obsessed with finding and maintaining happiness, we call it the pursuit of happiness.

If happiness is something we have to achieve, we will find ourselves continually chasing happiness. We will never reach our goal.

To be content, however, is entirely different.

I believe if you strive for contentment, balance, instead of the chase of happiness, you free your mind to focus on living a more meaningful life, a life that matters, not a life in pursuit.

When every day, every thought, is centered around what you think will bring happiness, you will quickly find that it is never enough.

Happiness is elusive, it is always on the move.

This is because after having a happy moment, our brains must come back down to our homeostasis [our natural state of being].

If we trick our brains over and over that these temporary ‘happy moments’ [such as eating at a restaurant, getting new furniture or clothes, or vacationing], are how we are always supposed to feel, then coming back to our homeostasis [natural state of being] may begin to feel like a loss…

Thus triggering us to pursue more feelings of happiness.

You get that job you were looking for thinking it will make you happy, after two years the same job makes you miserable.

You study for that profession, thinking that it will make you happy, when you qualify, you realise that actually, you like something else that has nothing to do with what you studied for.

You buy that expensive car hoping that it will make you happy and will earn you the respect and admiration of your peers, two years later, the latest model is released and then you are unhappy with your current one, because you want the new model.

You leave a stable relationship, chasing the thrill of the one that looks exciting on the outside, hoping that it will make you happy, after a while, you realise that actually, you left a stable relationship behind that kept you sane and content.

I believe the moment you stop chasing happiness, you become happy.

Happiness is a by-product of being content.

You have to be content first, before you are truly and sustainably happy.

Happiness without being content is very hard to sustain.

As a result being content should come before happiness.

Being content leads to happiness, but happiness does not lead to being content.

If we are content with ourselves and able to accept who we are while in our natural state of being, we will have more time and energy to live and experience life, in both its delightful and inglorious moments.

It does not mean we cannot have goals for a better or different lifestyle, but it is important to find contentment no matter your situation.

Even if you have nothing, you can enjoy a sunrise.

Even if you have no one, you can partake in conversation with a stranger.

Even if you get no attention, you can be comfortable in your own company.

So look around, breath the air, listen, and dig in your heart for something to be grateful for.

Embrace contentment, and you will never have to chase happiness again.

Being Content: With or without the “Forever After”

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Being content is a state of mind, whereas happiness is a moment.

Contents lasts longer, happiness is temporary.

I’m happy that I bought my favourite pair of shoes, I’m happy that my team won.

After two months, I see another pair of shoes or my soccer teams losses and my happiness diminishes.

Marketers are very good at manipulating our happiness levels by constantly painting a picture that in order for us to be happy, we need to buy more and be more.

In order to make more sales, they need to make us unhappy with what we currently have, to appreciate our status-quo less.

They want us to pursue more.

In our pursuit for more, more friends, more clothes, more popularity, more things to make us happy, we forget things we already have.

In our need to be somebody, we often forget that we are somebody.

I’m content with my life, I can do better and I will do better, but it’s okay even if I don’t have that pair of shoes, or if my team is not doing well right now.

I think instead [of happiness] we should be working for contentment… an inner sense of fulfillment that is relatively independent of external circumstances.

Don’t ignore the love you DO have in your life by focusing on the love you DON’T.

Being content is being content , with or without the “Forever After.”

“It’s a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things that you lack.” ― Germany Kent

Happiness does not lie on the other side of the transaction.

Being Content: or being happy

Happiness

Being content or being happy.

Words have the power to change us, and understanding these two words can fundamentally change how we view and approach life.

People often use these two words, being happy and being content interchangeably trying to illustrate success.

These two words mean different things.

“Contentment” is the word that changed me.

When I speak of “moments of change,” I mean those situations in which one crosses over from the familiar to a new state of being, of thinking, moments from which there can be no turning back.

Change comes in two forms, it can be physical, or psychological.

Physical meaning developing a muscle, or experiencing euphoria when bungee jumping.

Or Psycological, when a new point of view sweeps away the familiar way of looking at things. Once seen with fresh eyes, a new perspective cannot be undone.

When I came to realize that there is a difference between these two words, I reached for my Oxford English Dictionary, and here is what I found:

HAPPINESS | Good fortune or luck in life or in a particular affair; success; prosperity. The state of pleasurable content of mind, which results from success or the attainment of what is considered good.

So far, nothing unexpected in the Oxford description, although it impressed me that most people, if they had clothes, food, and a roof over their head, were happy by definition.

The dictionary seemed to be saying that happiness was largely the passive result of attainment: One acquired goods or status, and the acquisitions in turn bestowed happiness.

A lot of people have achieved enough creature comforts and nothing to complain about. They are dictionary–happy. But most still feel emotionally let down.

This is when I learned that there are many people in rural and poor communities who are content with the little they have, their smiles are genuine, and can be seen in their eyes.

And then you come to the concrete jungle in big cities and realize how in the midst of abundance of things, people are stressed, fatigued, emotionally empty and depressed.

They have all the things that are supposed to make them happy but they feel like something was missing despite the evident happiness that the authority of the Oxford English Dictionary say they have.

The answer came in the other definition:

CONTENTMENT | Having one’s desire bound by what one has [though that may be less than one could have wished]; not disturbed by the desire of anything more, or of anything different; satisfied so as not to repine.

When you get to a phase in your life where your life is so sufficient and fulfilled that desire would not disturb you, then you are content, you are fulfilled, you are enough.

Being content means lack of something doesn’t alter you.

Being content means not achieving a certain status level does not shift your core being.

Being content means you are enough, you don’t have to prove anything to anyone.

Being content does not mean you are less ambitious, it means you are thankful for what you have and patient for what is to come. 

Contentment is an inner sense of fulfillment that is relatively independent of external circumstances.

The open road

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The past day I took a long distance drive of about 6 hours.

Most of the drive was an open road highway, until you get to and major towns.

On the open road, people drive at their own speed, on cruise, relaxed and just enjoy the ride.

For me the open road helps me to think, about where I have been and where I’m going. It is about the beautiful views, the tranquility, the fresh air, the music.

Drivers don’t excessively speed up on the open road. In fact, it seemed as though they slow down and enjoy the ride, the sight seeing etc. Except for one or two speed freaks.

It is when you get to or pass a major town where there are more cars on road and then suddenly drivers want to speed up and pass others as if they are in competition.

When you get to the robots [we call traffic lights robots in South Africa], people speed off when it turn green, as if we are at the Grand Prix.

People are comfortable with the competitive nature of passing [I may not be fast, but I’m faster than you], and are petrified of the open road and the act of choosing own speed.

We do the same thing with social media.

You are okay, relaxed, calm and comfortable in on your lane, away from social media.

It is when you log in, you start to be competitive, you want to be seen doing something amazing, wearing something amazing, being somewhere amazing with amazing people.

Of course, we do the same thing with our careers or our businesses.

We build our careers and businesses one step at a time in our own lane, when we get to be with others at work or business seminars we leave our lane and want go faster than everyone.

Unfortunately, most people need competition to tell us how fast to go.

 

Difference between spray and cologne

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A spray lands on your body and shouts immediately.

A cologne lands on your body and takes its time, quietly and subtly.

A spray makes the grand entrance, it says:

“I’m here notice me, I’m all over the place, look at me, look at me.”

A cologne says:

“I’m subtle, I don’t scream for attention, talks quietly, if you want to know me, get closer, take your time and you will notice me and I will grow in you.”

Often how we interact in relationships, online, at work, or with customers, is either we are a spray or a cologne to them.

You either shout and scream or talk gently with quiet confidence.

I is for Integrity: Do what’s right anyway

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“Good men don’t become legends,” he said quietly.

“Good men don’t need to become legends.” She opened her eyes, looking up at him.

“They just do what’s right anyway.”

― Brandon Sanderson, The Well of Ascension

This reminds me of nice girls don’t get the corner office or good guys don’t win cliches, my response is:

Corner office or not, winning or not, popular or not, recognition or not, just do what’s right.

Not what is popular, or easy, or ruthless, or vindictive, just do what is right.

And God will do the rest.

I is for Integrity: Cheating

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Some people cheat their way through life.

They cheat on tests in school.

Cheat on girlfriends/boyfriends and then graduate to cheating on wives/husbands.

They cheat on their taxes.

Taxi drivers cheat on the road, by cutting in front of us.

Politicians use the public purse for their personal purposes.

People use their connections to cut the queue so that they can get ahead of everyone.

You cheat on your diet.

People cheat in relationships because… of whatever reason they use to justify their actions.

And then we say, it happens, as long as I don’t find out or get caught.

Unbeknown to many people, unseen in the background, as you cheat and seem like you are getting ahead, fate quietly diminishes your success.

Publicly you will be a success, but privately your soul will distance itself from you.

When your soul distances itself from you, you become empty.

Cheating only cheapens you, not the person, you are cheating on. They are a gem.

When we destroy something around us we destroy ourselves. If we cheat another, we cheat ourselves. 

You are cheating on yourself, because in the long term, you will lose something precious and you will left with something worthless.

Cheating is throwing away a diamond and picking up a rock.

I is for Integrity: Don’t say it in private

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Before you say or do something, ask yourself would you be willing to repeat the same thing in public.

If not, they don’t say or do it.

Your reputation and integrity is not merely based on your work, it is often the result of what you say or don’t say in secret.

Don’t say in private that which you are not willing to repeat in public.

 

I is for Integrity: Just this once, no one will find out

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So you steal from your employer, because you say you want to start your business and then you expect your business to be a success.

Once you start your business like that, you started on a slippery foundation.

Integrity is not something that you switch on and off, depending on your circumstances.

The path is pretty clear: You choose between right and wrong.

The temptation is to always say, I will do wrong, just this once, besides no one will find out.

The problem with this “just this once, I will never get caught” approach is that yes, you are right, you might not get caught.

But no, you are wrong, “just this once” does not always end up being “just this once.”

Once you do it, “just this once,” you will in most likelihood do it again, and maybe you won’t get caught the second time.

If you have done once, nothing will stop you from doing it again, so you do it again, and again, the next thing you know, it is a habit, and at some point you will get caught because the truth always comes out.

A voice in our head says, “Look, I know that as a general rule, most people should not do this. But in this particular extenuating circumstance, just this once, it’s okay.”

You pay a bribe to the traffic cop, “just this once.”

You cook the books so that auditors don’t find out, “just this once.”

You take an idea from partner and pretend as if it’s yours, “just this once.”

You cheat, “just this once.”

You manipulate people to meet your selfish needs, “just this once.”

And the voice in our head seems to be right; the price of doing something wrong “just this once” usually appears very low.

It sucks you in, and you don’t see where that path is ultimately headed or the full cost that the choice entails.

Many of us have convinced ourselves that we are able to break our own personal rules “just this once.”

In our minds, we can justify these small choices.

None of those things, when they first happen, feels like a life-changing decision.

The marginal costs are almost always low.

But each of those decisions can roll up into a much bigger picture, turning you into the kind of person you never wanted to be.

Paying bribes ends up being your way to get out of every traffic misdemeanor.

You end up cooking books not only for auditors not to find out, but for your boss, the Board, shareholders not to find out too.

The temporary thrill of cheating, cutting corners, manipulating people becomes second nature to you because your conscience is used to being ignored.

When you overrule or ignore your conscience once, nothing stops you from do it again.

“Just this once,” doesn’t always end being “just this once.”

What starts as a small thing, usually has the potential to turn into something big.

What you get by compromise, you maintain by compromise.

A conscience is a moral compass, it should always point north.

Decide what you stand for. And then stand for it all the time.

 

 

I is for Integrity: Very important in small businesses

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In a recent catch-up session with a close friend, associate and fellow entrepreneur something interesting [at least to me] came up.

As an entrepreneur, hiring the right people is crucial to your business because a non-performing member has a huge impact on a small business than in a large company.

Let me put it this way, in a start-up team of 4, a non-performing member has a 25% negative impact on the start-up.

Compare that to a large organization of say 100 staff, a non-performing member has a 1% impact on the company, all things being equal.

Small business are more exposed to the effects of non-perfoming employees.

Small businesses have limited budgets and therefore cannot afford employing an ivy league graduate, let alone any graduate.

So what do entrepreneurs look for when selecting an employee?

A lot of entrepreneurs always say: “I look for attitude in a candidate, and I will then train them the skill.”

Others entrepreneurs look for both, attitude and skill.

Both these approaches are well intentioned, however what’s missing from this equation, as I was discussing with Mkhulu, is integrity.

A person can have the right attitude [lovely to work with], have the right skills [is competent, qualified and experienced] but lacks integrity [not honest, white lies, shortcuts, secretive etc].

Integrity is as important to small businesses as skill and attitude.

Integrity means telling the truth even when it is not easy, not using other team members’s ideas and hardwork as your own, not taking shortcuts, being honest to clients about your mistakes, not inflating billable hours on your invoice, not manipulating people’s weakness for your selfish desires.

Integrity is doing the right thing, even if nobody is watching, especially when nobody is watching.

It is not only important to wear your smile to work in the morning [attitude] and bring your A-game [skill], don’t forget your honesty and truthfulness at home.

There are people who have a great sense of humor, great skills, but are not totally honest.

Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.

“Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it’s true. If you hire somebody without [integrity], you really want them to be dumb and lazy.”

— Warren Buffett

We need to look for integrity in our teams, suppliers, speakers, friends, family members and ourselves.

Success without integrity is failure.