The Ease of Contentment

Reflections on Chapter 44 of the Tao Te Ching:

Forest Lights

Fame or your own life,
which is more dear?

Your own life or your treasures,
which is worth more?

Gain or loss, which is worse?

Excessive attachment carries a high cost.
One who hoards will surely lose.

A contented woman
suffers no disappointment.
She knows when to stop
and does not reach exhaustion.
Thus, she can endure.


We are very attached to our stuff. We love our stuff. There’s a show called “Hoarders”. I have somewhat of a dichotomous view of hoarding. In some ways, I have way too much stuff, but in other ways I am a minimalist – at least in my mind! I am not sure where I stand, really. My Grandma and Grandpa used to have this basement where they would hoard stuff. They would go to garage sales and just buy tons of stuff. They were psuedo hoarders. They weren’t as bad as some. Upstairs in their living quarters, it was normal. It  was their basement that got all the action. In the basement, it was up to your waist in stuff. The rooms were all just full. They just kept going to garage sales and buying more stuff. There was an allure to this stuff. I remember going to the basement and just wanting to look and see what was there because you just never knew what you would find! It was exciting. With my family, it’s all about a good bargain. How can we find the greatest deal? I probably have too many things. I have a very tiny house. I designed that very purposefully, so I don’t manage and keep a lot of stuff, but it ebbs and flows. Mostly, I just feel like there is way too much stuff and I am constantly getting rid of things. I am also always finding new bargains and bringing things into the house.

What is most dear to you?

When you are on your deathbed, what is really most important? So many things fall away when we have a serious situation. This chapter is challenging us to look at our lives and see what is really important. Is it really important that you be recognized for things? Is it really important that the world adores you? Is it important that you have all this stuff? What does this stuff represent? Does it really represent you? Does it really say something about you?

We tend to believe that the outer display is important.

If you have a fancy car, it is meant to represent something. But does it really? It doesn’t really mean anything. In the U.S., our homes are mini-mansions for one family. How important is all that stuff? When it comes down to the end, there’s just a big estate sale for it all. Meaningless.


If you’ve studied anything about the Law of Attraction, the key to having contentment in your life is to really appreciate all the things that are there. We have such rich lives. I think one of the reasons why we came to the planet, why we created ourselves into being is because it is such a rich and pleasant experience. It has such potential for beauty. When you look at being in a human experience, we are very fortunate. You read about this a lot in the spiritual texts. This is something that is often mentioned – this concept of appreciating the human experience.

Look through your life and find what you are grateful for.

Try spending a little bit of time in your journal or with your family and express your gratitude. Some people have different practices for gratitude that are very sweet. I met one woman once who said that she and her husband tell each other what they are grateful for before they go to sleep each night. Perhaps you could share gratitude with your family at dinner time. I like to spend some time in gratitude when I go for walks or when I am driving. I do these things a lot and it is a nice pleasant time to just relax and bask in some gratitude. This doesn’t have to be contrived. You can just do it spontaneously. You can just appreciate – even if it is just in your own mind. We are very intuitive beings. This gratitude will be felt and will shift the energy of your space.

What you will find is abundance.

When you have that feeling of fullness, all things come to you. It’s a natural energetic attractor. We can know this from our own experience. We are attracted to people who are fulfilled in some way. This is why we are attracted to people who are successful. This is what they generate. They generate this attraction from being content and having that sense of fullness that we desire.  We want to be around it.

Energy flows in the direction of prosperity.

That is just how energy moves. We talked in the last chapter about how trees just live. They don’t need any special things. They are just trees. They live. That is the natural way that we are meant to be. We are given this high intelligence, this high sensory appreciation – take advantage of it! We have this ability to have great sensory awareness; to really understand it and be conscious of it. That’s a gift. The animals may not have that understanding of it. Animals can’t appreciate things like we can.

There’s a woman named Liv Lane who gathers bloggers every Friday just to list bliss. Although technically this post is not a “list” per se, I thought it was kinda cool that it ended up on a Friday so what the heck? Click on the cool button below to see what it’s all about!

I just found another linky thing that also talks about gratitude… click on the icon below for that one as well! It is called Friday Joy Jam. It’s a two-fer!

Friday Joy Jam

Friday Joy Jam

If you are reading this, I would love for you to read through the chapter above and tell us what you think it means. These essays are just what I think it means, but what do you think it means? We would love to read your thoughts in the comments below! Or share this post on your FB or Twitter page and let us know!


  1. What is most dear to me is my family. Without them all this stuff is nothing. I have a strong believe and faith in my Heavenly Father who answers my prayers. Those are the most precious in my life.
    Ruth recently posted…Little Bliss List – Nice WeatherMy Profile

  2. There’s something incredibly liberating about jettisoning the stuff. Decades ago, I made it a practice to change residences with only what I could fit in my car – and was always amazed how much would fit into a 1986 SAAB hatchback – box spring, mattress, frame, furniture, clothes, cat, books, etc. and am so looking forward to getting back to that place. Possessions weigh you down in so many ways.

    I so get this Chapter message. It’s about who you are, not what you have. It’s interesting that most who display the trappings of wealth are broke. Most wealthy people (whether this involves money or a satisfied soul) rarely feel the need to flaunt their state. Contentedness is about being whole and at peace without being compelled to show it. It’s an inside job, not an outward display.

    • Yes. I was just writing tomorrow’s post, Celebrating Womanhood, for a blogging event and thinking of women role models who have been powerful to me. One was Mother Teresa. She spent her entire life just helping people and encouraging people to live big through helping others. It was a big goal and she carried it out beautifully. Even in her death, oddly being overshadowed by Princess Diana’s death, she was subdued.

      As I was writing, I was thinking of the definition of success and she so clearly was successful, but not in a material way. I am sure that she never longed for “stuff” but I am also certain that if she ever needed anything, it was immediately granted. She was too busy doing her work in the world. It makes me wonder if perhaps we kept ourselves busy with helping people, we would not need four televisions and three bathrooms and a mini-mansion.

    • Good on you, Nanette, for ditching the stuff. I need to get busy and do the same today in my house! Lots of stuff to ditch! lol…

  3. Wonderful words on living true. I have been spending a lot of time with trees. It’s amazing how much you learn when you get quiet and just listen. They have a lot to share.
    Kathy Anne recently posted…Flower Therapy -The SunflowerMy Profile

    • Oh, I just love trees Kathy Anne! They are so rich in lessons for me. I always think about how they just stand for their whole lives and say nothing. That is so powerful. I wish I could be that quiet! The only noise they make is the rustling of leaves during high winds. I love how they play with the wind. So refreshing to stand amongst the trees and feel their powerful energy! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Such a timely post Amy! We have just finished clearing out several storage closets over the past two weekends to make room for my daughter to move back in, at least temporarily. Not that this didn’t need to be done anyway but this really pushed us to get it done. I just couldn’t believe the things we have been moving from house to house with us!! And what a relief to get all of that cleared out. It felt so good.
    Was all this stuff important to us? Well probably at one time but in the big picture of life, not at all. My family and our health is the most important.
    Thanks for this timely reminder!
    Sue recently posted…BlissfulnessMy Profile

    • How sweet, Sue. I have been renovating my kitchen and, in the process, going through everything in our kitchen and deciding if we want to keep it or get rid of it. It has been quite inspiring. I am motivated to do the rest of the house once the kitchen is done. I like having this focus on one room. I was painting the cabinets and thinking how wonderful it was to have them clean and to have such a fresh start.

      Thanks for stopping by and posting!

  5. Amy, the above image speaks so much…What do I hold dear? Well, my family, few smiles, lots of laughter and memories of a shared world….Gratitude makes you contented and joyful.
    Nupur recently posted…The ‘Eye’ of a StormMy Profile

  6. Another great post, Amy! While I still like a little stuff and could probably get rid of some of it, I can honestly say I have downsized a lot over the last year. I am no longer attached to stuff the way I once was and rarely go shopping and I refuse to stop at garage sales or thrift stores or even window shop in the malls – no need to tempt myself:)
    Michele Bergh recently posted…Create a Vision Board for Business: Sunday Series, Post 3 of 3My Profile

    • I was just thinking that the other day as I passed a garage sale sign. No need. I was reading something recently that said to take two items out for every one item you bring in. Good advice – it makes you think before bringing new stuff home.

  7. Pingback: Tao Tuesdays: Chapter 44

  8. I recite to myself everyday how grateful I am about my life and no one has to be around to hear it, just me. One of the most treasured gift is becoming more aware of my spirit in this life, unfolding into more awareness of itself. Family and friends are truly something to be grateful for, too!!

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