Contentment (樂)

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樂 (乐) has always been understood to mean joy or happiness.

Most people would never link 樂 with trials, tribulations, and difficulties.

However, later Confucians have a saying: You can cry and have sorrow, and yet still have 樂.

There seems to be a contradiction. But, I soon found greater depth in this word when attending a talk on Confucianism.

To the Confucians, 樂 does not mean joy. Rather, 樂 means contentment. While I may be going through a tough time, I can still be experiencing 樂 (contentment).

Holding on to 樂 is very important because it is essential in keeping one’s mind clear like a clear mirror or still water. By being detached from things, one can then be content with life, and be able to respond calmly to things/situations.

Author: Jonathan Y. H. Sim

Jonathan Sim is an Instructor with the Department of Philosophy at the National University of Singapore. He is passionate about teaching and he continues to research fun and innovative ways of engaging students to learn effectively. He has been teaching general education modules to a diverse range of undergraduate students and adult learners at the University.

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