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Why is contentment so difficult to realize, and how does one find inner stillness, satisfaction, and peace of mind? This article focuses on a basic orientation of our culture that seems to keep us forever discontented, and also suggests some simple, practical ways to find contentment in the only place and time it can be found — here and now.

This article originally appeared in the Spring/Summer 1999 issue of Spirituality & Health. You can't buy it, force it, or pursue it, But you can open your eyes and see it. Doing more of what you have already done isn’t the answer. More consumer goods, more work, more vacation, more lovers will not lead to greater contentment. In our modern lives there is an epidemic of discontent. It is the tragedy of our times that no matter what we achieve, how much money we earn, or how many blessings come our way, more is never enough. For every desire you fill there is always another one coming just on its heels. You may own a house in Aspen and make more money than God or Bill Gates, but still the feeling of fullness keeps slipping away. That’s because contentment is not the result of what you have or even what you do in life. Consider a time when you were really content, a moment when your inner yearning was filled. Maybe you were watching your child eat his first birthday cake or take her first steps. What a satisfying, fulfilling experience. Perhaps you were out fishing on a tranquil mountain lake or w …

Authors of Contentment: The Roots of Our Discontent and the Way to True Happiness, copyright 1999 by Robert A. Johnson and Jerry M. Ruhl. Robert A. Johnson studied with Carl Jung in the first class of the Jung Institute. He has also studied with Krishnamurti, spent time at an ashram in India since the 1950s, and had two near-death experiences. He is the best-selling author of He and She, and of Balancing Heaven and Earth: A Memoir. Jerry M. Ruhl is a writer, therapist, and a director of the C. G. Jung Society of Colorado.

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