I am a sucker for everything Leo Babauta. When I was shifting from mindless consumerism to voluntary simplicity, Leo’s blog, Zen Habits, was my constant companion, guide, and inspiration. His writing is simple, thought-provoking, and just darn good.
So when I learned about Leo’s free book, The Little Book of Contentment, I downloaded it right away. Here are some highlights:
Purpose: To Help Us Be Content
The Little Book of Contentment has a very focused purpose: To help readers be content. Why? Because “almost every kind of problem we have has discontent with ourselves (and our lives) as its root.” This includes addictions, negative body image, insecurity, anxiety, and more.
Four Key Problems
Leo outlines four key problems associated with discontent:
- An ideal/fantasy we are holding onto.
- Unhappiness with who we are.
- Lack of trust/confidence in ourselves.
- Seeking happiness externally.
If you stop to think about it, you can fully appreciate how much trouble discontent can cause in our lives. It could be something as trivial as having a fantasy that your significant other will put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher every time. When it doesn’t happen, we get irritated—i.e. discontent. That irritation can brood and blow up one day. Better let go of that fantasy and be happy…
How to Become Content
What is contentment? For me, it’s really about being happy with who you are. ~Leo Babauta
So how do we become content? How do we become happy with ourselves?
Leo outlines two strategies:
- Learn to trust yourself.
- Stop comparing yourself to ideals.
Each section of the book has strategies (action steps) to help you move away from discontent and closer to contentment.
One of the biggest manifestations of our fear that we’re not good enough is our belief that our bodies aren’t good enough. ~Leo Babauta
This comes back to letting go of ideals. Most of us will never be as skinny or tall as models. Yet, that is our societal ideal. We all know this, but we still hold on to these ideals.
The process of loving ourselves is to stop comparing ourselves to others and realize that this just makes us feel bad about ourselves. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we should neglect our bodies, but we should appreciate what we end up with when we take reasonable care to eat clean food and move our bodies daily.
Happiness Is Inside
All the raw material we need for happiness is inside of us. ~Leo Babauta
Another way to be content is to find happiness inside vs. externally. If you have an inner happiness that you can draw on when everything else is going to hell, you can still be content.
Appreciate things that are good about you and all the goodness that is around us. Practicing mindfulness is an important aspect of learning to “notice, accept and appreciate everything around us, and everyone we see and interact with.”
There is more to this little book, but I don’t want to give it all away. You should read it and think seriously about implementing the action steps outlined after each chapter. My current focus: letting go of fantasies.
Let me know what you think about the book!