Resentment is an interesting word, though. It derives from Latin and literally means "feel again." Feel again. Resentment doesn't just happen. It begins with a feeling. And here is the thing: The feeling is only a moment's short-lived reaction to a neutral event. But we interpret it as soon as it occurs. It happens lightning fast. Someone asks. Someone says. And our minds instantly connect a few dots based on habits, past experiences, unquestioned beliefs. Bang! We miss the truth. Instead, we feed the feeling with a story full of justification and defense. With story, the feeling can begin a slow, insidious ferment. Story around what we think should be "rightfully ours," story about victimhood, story about being better or worse than someone else, you name it. Stories, always, that limit us and stop love. Like heart burn, the feeling comes back up again. Again. We compare how we feel inside with how others appear outside. We have no idea what is going on inside others. And yet, we feed and feel those stories.
The main person any resentment ever hurts is ourselves. We risk ending up in a chronic state of discontent. Contentment is another interesting word. When you trace it back to its earliest Latin roots, it means, "contained" as in "held together, enclosed." You see this sense of wholeness in the word? Contentment is sufficient to itself. You can sense how someone who is "contained" is "satisfied": A contented person feels whole with what she already has. But this container is not limiting. It's expansive, fluid, because it holds enough, always enough.
Letting go of resentment is a healing process. It is a choice to step back. An invitation to recognize and understand our habitual stories, and more importantly, what can lead us away from story into new ways of being for optimal well-being. Take a deep breath. Pause. What just happened? Ah, just a story. We can let it go.
Contentment is an even more powerful choice. It follows letting-go, naturally but with some deliberate intent from us. It is a beautiful way of being we can cultivate. Enough, I can say. Worthy, I can say. I have enough. I am enough. I am worthy. I do not need to lie myself into a Yes in order to feel my enough-ness, worthiness. I have nothing to prove. Because we are allenough. We will always love and be loved. Drops in the ocean composed of the ocean. I can trust my wholehearted Yes. I can feel joy for others. For life! Wow, this is life, the raw material of what I choose to make of it! Awesome.
Because. We all are already and always enough. We all are. Ah...and now we have choices when we are with others, when we are alone. Now this feels right and good.
So we can in fact say no to our inner storied voices. Even if this feels weird. Even if it provokes guilt. The discomfort of guilt when we stop believing story is far easier to let go of than the more complicated feeling that is resentment or discontent. Saying no to story allows us to be more present. And get this: Most of us are so distracted, multi-tasking every moment of the day. Presence is a rare gift.
When an acquaintance or friend comes into sudden success or praise, we can share in their happiness. It is not complicated. No story. I can be genuinely joyed in another's good fortune and ease. I can share my joy and silently wish them ever more ease. It just makes sense. It makes us feel good. It generates energy. Well-being. The freedom to love and care for ourselves and others. That is huge. That is real leadership.
Okay, one more word. Pātra is the Sanskrit word for the begging bowl that Buddhist monks carry. Its significance is “just enough."Just enough. A synonym for plenty.
Contentment is a state of grace, nothing I can force or pretend. It's vulnerable. But so what, if it creates well-being full as oceans? A bowl overflowing. Contentment invites poise, respect, and love. It is deliciously abundant. More than enough! It energizes. It is both the vessel and the fuel behind our innate capability to be present, to be with wild heart.