強調知足的挑戰

By Jim Mathis

我掙扎於「知足」這個觀念已經有一段時間了。它似乎是個不明確的美德。上一刻我們覺得滿足,下一刻不滿足又悄悄地來到。有時候不滿足可能是好事,是一個正向的驅動力。假如你覺得對工作感到厭煩覺得沒希望或是期待有更大的進展或是挑戰時,不滿足的感覺就會促使你去改變。

一個習慣得到中等成績的學生需要有人幫他點燃學習的火焰。又或許一個人已經三十歲了,還是住在他爸媽家的地下室,滿足於整天玩電動,這種人大有問題。在上面 這些狀況裡,不滿足的感覺可以給他們帶來好處。但是,如果你已經六十歲了還不滿足,很快的你就會變成一個成天嘮嘮叨叨、愛胡思亂想的老先生或是老太太,忍 受著充滿悔恨的人生。重點是,我們如何找到滿足感?

在我們的文化裡,滿足似乎經常跟冷漠或是懶惰連在一起。但是也有很 多人發現真正的滿足是找到快樂的秘訣。六十年代,很多人都在談「找尋自我」,這個想法告訴我們:我們會出生在這個地球是有目的的,我們來到這個世界是為了 完成某個使命的,而我相信這是真的。當我們找到自己的使命並且去完成它,我們會感到滿足。

所以,滿足和年紀也是有關的。一個比較年長成熟的人應該會感到比較滿足。而一個比較年輕的人,除非他找到自己生命的意義和呼召,或是之後在工作中漸漸有成就,否則他很容易感到不滿足。

我認為大部分的人,包括我自己,要找到自己下一步應該要做什麼是一輩子的功課。這並不是說我對現狀或我所擁有的不滿,我其實是很滿足的。但是我們應該要更加積極和樂觀地去過每一天,每天滿足於「活在當下」是非常重要的。

我 舉自己當例子: 我花了很多年去明白自己就是一個藝術家,因為我不是典型的藝術家,我的數學和科學非常好,也沒有像是很多藝術家很有獨特的想法和怪怪的脾氣,又或者我自己 不認為自己是一個藝術家。有一次我拋開自己先入為主的觀念,明白了自己是一個真正的藝術家,它是我生命特質的一部分,我開始去做藝術家做的事-創作。我經 營音樂和攝影創作的生意,也從中得到快樂和享受。

當然,不是每一個人都是藝術家。但是我們天生都有獨特的地方,可能是一個製作人、行政人員、商人、幕後團隊、會計師、律師、醫生、老師或是其他適合我們的職業,無論如何,從中找到滿足是非常重要的。

在 聖經裡面,使徒保羅很清楚地說: 「我知道怎樣處卑賤,也知道怎樣處豐富;或飽足,或飢餓;或有餘,或缺乏,隨事隨在,我都得了祕訣。」(腓立比4章12節)當然,他說的不僅僅是工作而 已,也是指出人生的每一方面都找到滿足,無論是在職場或個人的追求方面。如果不滿足,我們永遠都找不到快樂和喜樂。

Jim Mathis在堪薩斯州Overland Park擁有自己的攝影工作室。他的專長是製作、廣告和劇場人物攝影,他也擁有一兼自己的攝影學校。

回應與問題討論
對你來說,「滿足」的意義是什麼?你是有滿足的經驗?你現在是否感到滿足? 你是否可以想到一、兩個例子說明「不滿足」有正面的意義和益處? 但是在什麼狀況之下,「不滿足」對你來說是負面的?或是你所認識的人有這樣的經驗? 使徒保羅寫到他已經得到可以在各種情況下,都能知足的秘訣,你覺得他所說的秘訣是什麼?你覺得特別是在今天不斷變動的世界,這樣的態度是否確實可行?說明你的理由。如果你想要看或是討論跟本篇主題相關的聖經經文,請參考:箴言14章30節、27章20節;哥林多前書4章10-14節;哥林多後書11章9節、23-30節、12章7-10節


ADDRESSING THE CHALLENGE OF CONTENTMENT
By Jim Mathis

I have been struggling with the concept of contentment for some time. It seems to be a fleeting virtue. For a few moments we feel content, then something happens and discontent begins to creep in again. At other times, discontent can be a good thing, a positive motivator. If you feel stuck in a job with no hope for advancement or greater challenges, for example, feeling discontented can spur you to make changes.

A student that has become content with earning mediocre grades needs someone to build a fire under them. If a person is 30 years old, still living in his or her parents』 basement and content to play video games all day, they have a real problem. In either scenario, some discontent would be beneficial. However, if you are a 60-year-old who is not content, you will soon become a grumpy old man or a cranky old woman, faced with enduring a life filled with regret. The question is, how do we find contentment?

In our culture, contentment is often related to apathy or laziness; it can be in one sense. But many of us also have made the discovery true contentment is a secret to finding happiness. When I was coming of age in the 1960’s, there was a lot of discussion about "finding yourself." This built on the idea that we were created for a specific purpose and put on Earth to accomplish something meaningful. I believe this is true. So the sooner we find our purpose, the better. If we feel confident about doing what we are supposed to be doing, we can feel content.

Therefore, in one sense, contentment is age-related. An older, mature person should be content. Younger people probably should not feel contented unless they have already found their life’s purpose and vocational calling, rather than waiting until they are well along in their career.

For me – and I presume for most people – the mystery of finding out what we should be doing next is a lifelong challenge. This does not mean, however, I am not content with where I am or with what I have accomplished so far, because I am. If we are to approach each new day with optimism and enthusiasm, having a sense of contentment with our place in life at the moment is important.

In my case, it took me many years to realize I am an artist. This was because I do not fit the stereotype of what I perceived an artist to be. I am good at math and science, and not eccentric or quirky, as many artists seem to be. At least I do not think I am. Once I got past my preconceptions and realized I am indeed an artist, part of who I am as a person, I started doing what artists do – make art. In my case, this came about through photography and music, partly as a businessman and in part for the enjoyment these pursuits provided.

Or course, not everyone is an artist. But in whatever way we are uniquely designed – as executives and administrators, salespeople, support staff, accountants, lawyers, physicians, teachers or for many other possible vocations – striving to achieve contentment is important.

In the Bible, the apostle Paul stated this clearly: 「I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want」 (Philippians 4:12). Of course he was speaking about much more than work – about finding contentment in every aspect of life. Whether in the workplace or in our personal pursuits, without contentment, happiness and joy always lurk beyond our grasp.

Jim Mathis is the owner of a photography studio in Overland Park, Kansas, specializing in executive, commercial and theatrical portraits, and operates a school of photography.

Reflection/Discussion Questions
What does 「contentment」 mean for you? Have you experienced it? Are you experiencing it now? Can you think of a situation or two in which feeling discontented proved to be useful and beneficial for you? Explain your answer. How have feelings of discontent proved to be problematic for you – or for someone you know well? The apostle Paul wrote that he had 「learned the secret of being content in any and every situation」? What do you think he meant in saying that? Do you think such an attitude is realistic, especially in our ever-changing world? Why or why not?If you would like to look at or discuss other portions of the Bible that relate to this topic, consider the following brief sampling of passages: Proverbs 14:30, 27:20; 1 Corinthians 4:10-14; 2 Corinthians 11:9, 23-30; 12:7-10

Show More