Contentment and Discontent

Contentment and Discontent

Everyone wants to live happily, but experience tells us that things do not always go the way we wish them to go. This is a part of life, and, in a sense, it makes living more interesting. When we consider the matter more carefully, we find that it is the discontent in the heart of man that provides an incentive for the development of civilization. So, nothing in the world should be interpreted in a superficial way. The more dissatisfaction man feels, the more advancements are gained, the more improvements are made, and the more civilization progresses proportionately.

However, if the discontent is excessive, it breeds trouble. It can become the cause of a conflict which may even bring ruin upon an individual. It can often develop into such dangerous situations as family discord, rifts between friends, arguments in business, general recklessness, and criminal acts. In society as a whole, it can cause radical ideas to be formed, some of which may develop into destructive movements. Violence such as rioting can occur, and this may even grow into a civil war. Thus, discontent cannot be regarded lightly.

On the other hand, people who are always contented, always satisfied, and are considered "soft" or good-natured by others, never seem to have an dissatisfaction arising in their lives. These individuals are the ones who are actually rather useless to society in general, because they never attempt to accomplish anything.

This seems to indicate that neither discontent nor contentment is desirable, so people may be confused as to what they are to think. Actually, it is not at all difficult to understand. The conclusion to be drawn is that they should not lean too much in any one direction but rather should take a middle course, employing both sides in balanced proportion.

While this idea is simple, it may not be as easy to carry out as it is to speak about, but perhaps this is the way with most of life. In order to achieve a balanced attitude, it is necessary to learn to be flexible, to become adaptable to any situation, with the unchanging feelings of love and integrity within the heart. Once these characteristics can be maintained constantly by an individual, he will certainly be a useful member of society, and will attain success, recognition and lasting happiness.

~Mokichi Okada. March 18, 1953

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