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Contentment is a state of mind. You can achieve it accidentally or purposefully. Either way, you have to notice it when it arrives.

Socrates famously said “The unexamined life is not worth living”, yet just as famously we often neglect to look inside ourselves when we encounter life’s difficulties.

We all crave contentment and wellbeing, and it is through an understanding of our personal values, drives and ambitions that this need can be satisfied. The inner life and the practice of its skills are the keys to living well.

It is only to be expected that some of us feel uncomfortable when we hear terms like ‘inner life’, ‘inner journey’ or ‘spiritual nourishment’. This is because we are exploring concepts – the thoughts, emotions, values and aspirations which guide us – that few of us examine in our daily lives.

Modern society, our pace of life, the obsession with measurable results, and the rest, have progressively alienated us from the inner part of ourselves  – our spirit, if you like (there’s another one!) – and even from our environment. This is at great cost to us, both as individuals and to the societies we make up.

As if this isn’t enough, many people seem to think that they either don’t have, or don’t deserve, the time to find the space to take care of themselves. They believe contentment is an illusion, or not for them.

But there is no denying what centuries of wisdom tells us: there is an art to living contentedly and every art depends on learning new skills.

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