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Contentment: A Way to True Happiness Paperback – July 3, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1 edition (July 3, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062515934
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062515933
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #382,848 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This slim volume by noted Jungian analyst Johnson (Lying with the Heavenly Woman) and psychotherapist Ruhl (who also coauthored Balancing Heaven and Earth with Johnson) doesn't purport to have all of the answers to today's psychological ills, and therein lies its strength. While acknowledging the myriad possible reasons for our discontent, the authors present a winning argument for why we should cease to seek a fix or an answer and find deeper satisfaction in things as they are. Society may tell us to keep looking for the next purchase, person, job or feeling to fill the void, but, as the authors point out, "contentment comes from the inside." In addition to the examples Johnson and Ruhl draw from Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Taoist and other traditions, they present an extended discussion of the themes of spiritual blindness and insight in King Lear to illustrate the inward and outward examination necessary for growth. Their contemplative strategies for achieving happiness take into account the pace and complexity of modern life, and are not merely a call to simplify and reduce. Closing with a discussion of "gifts" that can be difficult to recognize (confusion, paradox, ordinariness, detachment), this small book is surprisingly weighty. Author tour.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Prominent Jungian psychotherapist Johnson and fellow therapist Ruhl, Johnson's collaborator on Balancing Heaven and Earth (1998), take on the great question of how to find contentment while remaining alive to life's struggles. In a small set of pithy, wise essays, they argue that contentment means learning to live wholly with what we have rather than ceaselessly straining for more. This is, of course, a common theme in inspirational literature. Johnson and Ruhl add something new, however, in what they say about being content while also growing psychologically. The paradox of simultaneous contentment and growth is basic to the life quest, as exemplified in the great Shakespearean story of King Lear, who goes mad because he cannot be content with Cordelia's truthfulness. Johnson and Ruhl also cite a great Hindu story, the Mahabharata, in which unhappiness follows happiness whenever "the well of suffering runs dry." Happiness must never be mistaken for contentedness, they say, for one can have the latter in the absence of the former. Patricia Monaghan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Robert A. Johnson, a noted lecturer and Jungian analyst, is also the author of He, She, We, Inner Work, Ecstasy, Transformation, and Owning Your Own Shadow.

Customer Reviews

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Letting go is not giving up.
C. Smiley
It is a rehash of his earlier work, if you have his earlier books don't bother with this one.
Picky Buyer
Very simple, but insightful book on everyone's search for contentment.
A. Biesen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is a powerful book, full of concise wisdom. Rather than telling you how to interpret an idea--too many books tell you what to think--this thin volume, echoing Shakespeare's King Lear, allows you to integrate the wisdom deeply into your consciousness. What I have always marveled about Johnson's books is their ability to suggest ideas without talking down to you, evoke wisdom without hitting you over the head. Johnson lets you find your own answers to the big questions. This book points me closer to God. What more could you expect from a mere book? (Another bonus: it's inspired me to read Lear again, this time from a new perspective.)
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A. Biesen on July 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
I am reading it for a second time because I loved it so much. Very simple, but insightful book on everyone's search for contentment. It shows how the American culture does not support the journey required to find true contentment. I liked it so much I've bought a few copies to give to my friends!
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By C. Smiley on April 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book contained a lot of stuff that I did not find useful. The King Lear examples were dreary. Here are the best nuggets of knowledge from the book:

Contentment - to be at home with what you already contain - your existing contents. Contentment isn't found on the outside or from getting what we want. It is our capacity to mediate our desires with "what is". Accept what is rather than insist that life be a certain way. Contentment comes from the inside rather than "just as soon as" I get x or event y happens. Honoring and embracing "what is" is the opposite of living a "just as soon as" mentality. Rearranging life on the outside will not produce lasting contentment no matter how much you do or get. Contentment can't be found out there - it is inside of you.

Let the daily upsets, disappointments, and changes pass by like clouds in the sky. In the scheme of theme they are no more important or permanent than the clouds. You can participate in the daily frustrations and absurdities of life while simultaneously observing them as a great movie show.

The past is gone and the future is yet to be. All that exists is now. Try to imagine how life might be if you were able to let go of a predetermined course of action and instead accept what life presents to you. When you bump up against a rock, try moving in a different direction. Letting go is not giving up. In letting go you consciously do what can be done. Become aware of how the urge to act interferes with true knowing. Try simply being aware rather than doing or demanding.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John Australia on December 7, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an amazing book. Insightfull. I leant it to someone, so now need to buy it again, because I want to leave them with the book! So I will purchase again. Short, and makes you think. Especially loved the bit at the end about how in the past people lived less for themselves, and more for "community". If their community was doing OK, but they were dying, it didn't really matter, as their part had built up the community. It's a bit better worded than that though...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Harriet on September 1, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I own all of Rbt Johnson's books, as I'm quite interested in Jungian psychology, but this has a "different voice", probably because it's co-written by someone else. Nevertheless, anyone interested in the concept of contentment will want to own it as it contains many thought-provoking ideas.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Picky Buyer on August 31, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having Followed Robert Johnson's writing most of my life, i was curious about this book.
It is a rehash of his earlier work, if you have his earlier books don't bother with this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By B. P. OHARA on November 23, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a refreshing read - Discusses deep wisdom - the things that are forgotten in our world of externals. We need to step back and understand what is really going on - in us and our desires and fears.
This short, incisive read about things internal, helps one find those places within that are felt, but not always known.

I have given copies to friends and family to share this illuminating
discussion of what is and how it can change your life.

Patrick O'Hara
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