A continual feast

Last Updated 20 January 2013, 19:10 IST

A farmer lived on the same farm all his life. It was a good one and yielded much profit, but as time went by, the farmer began to tire of this life.

He yearned for something new, the decisive turn in fortune that would bring about a wonderful change.

As the days passed, he became so unhappy that each dawn saw him discovering a new fault in the farm. He finally decided to sell it and contacted an agent who promised to do his best.

The man drew up a sale advertisement emphasising all the advantages that the farm had – good location, fertile soil, modern equipment and the best stock that could be found. Before letting this come out in print, he read it to the farmer in order to gain his approval. The farmer listened without a word.

At the end of it, he exclaimed, ‘Hold it, hold it. Don’t go ahead. This sounds exactly what I wanted. I don’t want to sell. I’ve been looking for this all my life!’

Many of us are like this farmer. We want this or we want that and all we end up doing is to live in perpetual want. What we have lost is the steadying strength of contentment. But isn’t contentment the very antithesis of progress?

Clearly, it is the characteristic of the lazy, the laidback and the unambitious. The true achiever is the one who is restless, ever-eager to move forward and reach greater heights.

As strange as it might sound, it is, on the other hand, contentment that serves as the spring-board to success. If we are not thankful for what we have, dissatisfaction sets in and no matter how much one has, it is never enough.

Just as the appetite grows with eating, so it is with other things. One new outfit sets off the yearning for yet another one; the house you own may be comfortable enough, but there is need for more rooms and the car is admittedly good, but a bigger one would be more convenient.

And so it goes, with the result that contentment remains far out of reach. It makes the person disgruntled and hard to please, for his mind is constantly on what is lacking, rather than on what he is blessed with. It is the perfect recipe for unhappiness and under-achievement.

It breeds a negative attitude that puts people around on their guard and makes them move away.

On the other hand, the cheerful and contented person attracts people and he or she is able to strike an instant rapport, which goes a long way in bringing success.

Being content also enables us to reach out to others, whether helping or cooperating, thus making the world an easier place to live in. As the old proverb has it, ‘A contented mind is a continual feast.’

(Published 20 January 2013, 19:10 IST)

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