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Contentment is a very special state. It is beyond happiness, residing in a place that calms the soul and brings wisdom to one's existence. A person can live in "poverty" and be perfectly content - just as an individual who is extremely wealthy can be in constant discontentment. So...how does one become content?

It's easier than one thinks. Contentment is based (like so many things in life) in perspective. The secret is to recognize what is really important (not some importance that is thrust upon us by our society or through marketing) and what is not. The ability to laugh at one's self and the absurdities of so many things in life is another aspect that enables a person to become content.

There is a difference between material contentment (living a life of material plenty) and "spiritual" contentment. The first deals with possessions, which...if they should go away, so does the contentment. The other is based in the ability to live beyond the material world and understand that it is the contentment of the body, mind, and soul, that enables a person to travel through life in a contented state.

It also contains elements of that old expression, "Don't get too high with the highs, or low with the lows." Of course, we all experience great joy and happiness, as well as sorrow and tribulations. And yes...our emotions deal with those things in many ways. However - once one understands that these things too shall pass, the recognition that we are living in a journey that is finite helps us see that mellowness, balance, and calmness, will enable us to enjoy all the aspects of life in a deeper, more textured manner.

If you realize that contentment is already inside of you and that all you have to do is reach in, discover it, embrace it, and then live it...you will have found the magic of an incredible way of life.
 
Our society is filled with "noise." Of course...that word is relative. One person's "noise" is another person's "music." However, the constant sounds of our communities - whether one lives in the country, city, or suburbs - can constitute an ongoing, and often unconscious, "hum" that we have all become accustomed to.

That hum sets a pace for each of us. Therefore, to truly clear one's mind...cleaning out the hum is essential.
How is that possible? It's actually easier than you think. In fact, many of you do it without even knowing how or why. Have you ever "zoned out?" It's that state when everything seems to have disappeared from your surroundings and enables you to exist on a level that puts you in a place of relaxation.

Many of us fall into it without any provocation. It just happens. Yet, it's possible to do it on your on. You can facilitate it by staring at an object. closing your eyes and visualizing something such as a beam of light, yourself sitting, the top of your head, or any other myriad of things. The trick is to not focus on items that are emblematic of chaos. Some call the exercise meditation, some call it a form of yoga, and some call it both - by intertwining them. I call it concentrating on peace and serenity.

It may sound difficult. Since we're so used to "noise." And...it also means being fine with being with yourself. Even if you're not...try it and soon you'll find that you're perfectly okay with being alone. Calmness will begin to encompass you as time seems to stop and peace and serenity engulf your being. Once you have accomplished the ability to remain calm on your own, then you will be open to even "higher planes" of existence.

It all starts with recognizing the "noise" and your desire to remove yourself from it. Once you've done that, you're on the path to peace and serenity.
 
For so many individuals a balanced life has become as elusive as catching a cloud. Society's pressures and stresses have moved people away from being in balance with themselves and their surrounding and into a frantic position of constant - and often needless - motion. People have become spinning tops caught in a perpetual state of inertia.


Relaxation even has to be scheduled! What does that say about our view of life and of ourselves? Balance is not something that one does on a mat for a few hours a week, it is a way of life. Prioritizing one's health, family, love, contentment, and living in the now, are all important elements of balance. How can one feel balanced when he or she is always looking at what needs to be done in the future and...when they have not really lived in the present?

What happens if the future doesn't come? Will you have spent your "nows" ignoring their importance for the sake of something that never happened? That doesn't mean that a person shouldn't plan for the future. But...it does mean that he or she shouldn't be obsessed by it. 

To be balanced, at least by my standards, also means to understand the difference between "working to live" and "living to work." It means looking at what's around you and understanding that it could change at any time and that you should "take it all in" and enjoy it. In addition, it is an ability to create a "level plane" for yourself, so that you don't get too high with the "highs" or low with the "lows." And - to be able to laugh robustly - especially at yourself, as well as recognize how to put life in perspective. Plus...it takes a realization that life is always changing. That's just inherent in the state of existence.

One of the things I have learned over the years is that (and I've said this many times before) we create our on constructs, then...often live by them, stress over them, and lose sight of what's truly worthwhile in being alive on this planet. The secret is actually not a secret at all...it's staring you in the face. It's in every person you see, love, and care about. It's recognizing that those you love and who love you in return want you around and not some fancy toy in your stead. It's the mountains, rivers, streams, and sky. It's everything in the universe. And...it's admiring all that while you're here - not letting it pass you by in the humdrum of running around as you focus on what can be, as opposed to what is. 

Balance is enjoying now. Knowing that each now will never be here again. Balance may include planning, but...it's overwhelmingly about being present every moment of your life.
 
No matter who you are or where you live, you have an effect on those you interact with. Your energy sends a message to the people and other beings around you. Do you exude knowledge, wisdom, excitement, innovation, fun, happiness, contentment, kindness, compassion, and/or love? Or...does your energy give off arrogance, stubbornness, ignorance, hate, intolerance, negativity, paranoia, lack of confidence and low self-esteem?


Whatever it is that you convey, others (both human and other animals - and some may argue...even the greater energy of universe) can readily "pick it up" and feel its effects. Having others look forward to your presence and feel comfortable around you is not always an inherent trait. It can be, rather easily, learned if you're willing to spend the time to open your mind and heart to understand you strengths and overcome your weaknesses.

The first step is to understand who you are. "Look" at yourself when you converse with others. How and what does your tone of voice, body language, content of your message, and use of words, convey to others. Step back and watch yourself. Are you a person who displays the type of energy that evokes positive emotions, or do you repulse others and cause them to rapidly move away, physically and/or mentally, from you. If you are too judgmental, it can be relatively certain that those around you will "turn you off" after your negativity has been on constant display.

The easiest way to have a positive effect on others is to listen to them. We live in a world where listening has become a prized commodity. Since so many of us are pulled in an ever increasing amount of directions (see my previous post), our ability (or desire) to listen to others has - from a societal perspective - been stymied. Showing that you are willing to listen non-judgmentally, and REALLY actively doing it, can create a positive effect on how you are viewed and...make you one of the people that others want to interact with. 

Listen and you well, most certainly, see.
 
Life for most people, especially those living in metropolitan areas, has become a frantic affair. So many things call for our attention. Work, play, school, family, friends, apps, social media, cell phones, smart phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, televisions with 800 channels, radios (both satellite and broadcast), CDs, DVDs, magazines, newspapers, books, and on and on and on, are constant diversions.

When I was "growing up" there were no computers or cell phones, television meant watching four networks. Then..."UHF" came along and three more channels were added. One's telephone transmission was apt to be over a "party line." Meaning, your family shared the line with another family and if you picked up your receiver you could hear the conversation of the people who shared your line. Sometimes, you'd have to interrupt them to ask if they were almost finished speaking so that you could make a call. Progress was achieved when you could afford to have a private line. Then REAL advancement came when "party lines" ceased to be.

Newspapers ruled. They were packed with stories and the Sunday edition weighed "a ton." For "paperboys" like me, it was the hardest day. Music came over your favorite radio station or on your turntable (we called them record players or victrolas), via records that were either 45 RPMs, 33 1/3 RPMs, or 78 RPMs. RPM stands for revolutions per minute.

Families ate dinner together. Food wasn't processed as it is today, there were no GMOs, and...the days events were actually discussed at the dinner table!

ADHD, as we know it, wasn't around back then. Perhaps it was because there were relatively so few things diverting our attention. Folks who did numerous things, seemingly at the same time, weren't thought of as multitaskers, they could just do lots of things "at once." 

So how did we become societies filled with ADHDers? Easy, we created a "world" that has countless things vying for our attention. We drift from one thing to the next, often without finishing the first, because...we are "pulled away" by something new, "more important" more attractive, more interesting, or more entertaining. The choices we have today dwarf those of 40, 30, even 20 years ago. In fact. it's hard NOT to be diverted! Yet...leave it to the pharmaceutical industry to develop drugs to control ADHD and other related "ailments."  

I have an easier solution. Slow down, don't look at your electronic devises on a constant basis, clear your mind, speak with your friends and family, relax more, stress less, and have fun. It'll save you from having to buy more things you think you "need" that you really don't, and...it may even cut down on your prescriptions too!
 
Yes...it's true. Size really does matter. In fact, it not only effects your life - but it will certainly effect the lives of others as well.

No, I'm not talking about an outward physical trait. What I'm addressing here is the size of a few things that are far more important. How "big" is your heart? How "broad" is your mind?

Living with a "big heart" and a "broad mind" enables you to spread good energy, see things in a more accepting manner, and allows you to learn more easily. A "narrow mind" and "closed heart" tends to drive people, who may add texture, love, and kindness, to your life...away. What you are left with are only those with the same "closed heart" perspective and "narrow mindset" as yourself. That will, most assuredly, limit your view of life and will stunt your ability to grow as well. 

However, the toughest part is to be able to admit to yourself that you have a "closed heart" and a "narrow mind." It takes a lot of intestinal fortitude to recognize one's shortcomings. And...even more to want to change. A "broad, or open, mind" and a "big heart" may cause a person discomfort at first because it goes against what one has "stood for" his or her entire life. Yet...once they are achieved a person frees himself, or herself, from the negative energy and the physical affects that a "small heart" and a "narrow mind" causes.

If you've ever be around negative people (or you are one yourself), their faces emit the affects that their negativity creates. A positive person is lighter, happier, and less stressed. Closing one's heart and one's mind will, ultimately, increase one's stress and also cause physical ailments.

So...be aware of the "size" of your heart and mind. Open them both. It will allow you the freedom to pass on an overly stressful and judgmental life. And - give you the rewards that go with a "big heart" and a "broad mind." 


 
My website, as you know, is entitled: Dan Dissects Life - Practical Tips for Happiness and Contentment. Quite often people think that happiness and contentment are synonyms for each other, but...they're not. One can be very happy and not contented. However, if one is contented - they may not exhibit the traits that one thinks of when they contemplate what happiness should mean. Yet, the contented person may, indeed, be very happy.  

Happiness is a state of considerable pleasure and cheer. The happy person is often gleeful, light, and even euphoric. Happiness is wonderful. The mind and body may be overcome with elation. It is a beautiful "place to be!" However, happiness may come and go. Contentment, on the other hand, is often a way of life.

An example may be the parent who watches his or her child graduate from college. They are proud of their offspring and happy to see him or her reach one of life's great goals. Yet...even during the ceremony, the parent's thoughts may drift to school loan payments (and how they'll deal with them), whether or not their child will be able to find a satisfying profession, and, perhaps, a sadness of knowing that their child will soon be leaving home. They might find themselves being discontented while, at the same time, experiencing happiness.

Contentment is different. It is a feeling of peace with one's self and one's life, an ease of mind and satisfaction with one's state of being. Happiness adds a certain texture to the contented person...a taste of extra satisfaction to an already satisfied state. Yet - there is also a constant calmness to the contented person's "soul."

Happiness might manifest itself when one buys something "new," enabling the buyer to sense fulfillment and joy. The contented person may realize that they are fine with what they have and that just "being" and feeling nature's energy is fulfilling enough.

Experiencing happiness without contentment may leave a person "empty." But, meshing happiness with contentment can lead to a life filled with calmness, love, laughter, and relaxation...no matter how many things and how much money a person may, or may not, have.

 
For as long as humans have existed on this Earth our species has been studying the stars, planets, galaxies, and other astrological bodies, as well as their (and our) home - the universe. It is so immense that no one actually knows where it begins or ends. In fact...there isn't a person alive who can be certain that it has a beginning or an end, or...if there aren't other universes. Perhaps we live in a cosmos of multiverses. 

Yet, there is one thing that I am sure of - you, my blog reading friend, are most certainly the center of your universe. Okay, you may not be the center of MY universe, but...I can tell you this - without you, your universe wouldn't exist.

You see, everything is relative. No one knows what another person's view of reality is. Nor can we be able to fully understand what goes on in another human's (or for that matter, any other living thing's) mind. So, without you, your universe wouldn't exist. It would cease to be. Or, as Monty Python might (also) say..."It is no more."

Just as the age old question asks, "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" the same holds true for everything else, including our "universal concepts." In other words...the universe exists for you only because you are in it, can observe or detect it, use your senses to identify it, and call on your (and others') knowledge to "verify" that it is an actual entity.

However, what happens when you're gone? Once YOU'VE ceased to be...does the universe, as you now know it, continue to be "real." A philosophical conundrum? Indeed! But - one that will never be fully answered because of who must answer it. 

As we go through life, we are constantly swimming through a sea of concepts and constructs. Many of which are believed by most, some of them believed by many, and a few of them believed by a small number - perhaps just one. So...before you make absolute statements, think about the dilemma each of us faces on a continuous basis, and even then - you may only be right for yourself.

Have fun dissecting things my friends...it certainly is an invigorating exercise - at least it is for one person I know...me!
 
I am heartened and disturbed, feel hope and despair, and see the need for love as well as caution.

Over the past few months we have seen some horrible things in the United States. Children and their teachers killed in their classrooms, firefighters murdered as they responded to help others, and the terrible continuing vision of a sick society playing out, in real life, the violence they see daily in their video games, on their televisions and computers screens, and in their movie theaters.

Yet...I also see a growing awareness of the sickness. Things have been exposed and the awareness of people has been heightened. A call to action has been heard. Now that action must be implemented. Is it the history of our nation to be violent? Yes. Do we treasure our firearms? Yes. Are we an adolescent society filled with insecurities, led like sheep to the purchasing counter, and unaware of the manipulation of our food, media, and minds? For the most part...yes. But - we are now more aware that these things exist. 

The general population is slowing changing its priorities. The realization that wars have zapped our resources and helped to slow our funding for quality education and healthcare is no longer denied. That we need to care for each other has become clear. A nation that ignores those in need of help will surely implode under its own greed. We are seeing a shift. Inclusion will make us strong. Lifting up those less fortunate will make us better. Spurring innovation will keep us sharp. Striving for greatness will help us lead. And...knowing that the most important resource a country (and the world) has is its people, will keep us kind, compassionate, and caring. 

Be aware and you will see enormous possibilities. Let's make sure that everyone has a chance to, not only, realize their potential, but...reach it as well. Continue the shift my friends.
 
We live in a world filled with sensory delights, and yet...we keep insisting on desensitizing ourselves. We have become plugged into things that unplug us from the reality around us. In this video I discuss our situation and what we can do about it. Hopefully - you'll watch it and not just look at it, listen to it and not just hear it, and perhaps...you'll pick up a few intriguing thoughts as well.