This post on contentment in life is part of the A Better You series.
I chose to focus on contentment this month because my discontentment and unhappiness had taken over my life. I was so focused on how my life was different from what I wanted that I wasn’t seeing all of the good in my life. Honestly, I was really just a mess. I knew I didn’t want to be unhappy. One phone call to my mother later and I was reminded of all of the blessings I already have in my life. She reminded me of the importance of contentment.
What Is Contentment?
According the dictionary, content means “pleased and satisfied, not needing more.” Personally, I’ve always had issues with this. For some reason, I’ve always thought being content meant having to settle for less. However living a life of contentment doesn’t mean you have to give up on improving your life!
If living a life of contentment doesn’t mean you can’t have goals, what does it mean? It does mean you have to say goodbye to that inconsolable longing for more. It means not making your happiness now contingent on some event happening in the future. Having contentment in life means you are deciding to be satisfied or pleased with what is in your life at the current moment.
Yes that means contentment is different from happiness. That’s okay. Contentment gives us the ability to live life fully, without the emotional rollercoaster that can come with wanting something different.
How Can You Have Contentment In Life?
Obviously making your life more content is going to be a different process for you than it is for me. These are just some suggestions.
See the Good in Your Life:
It can be easy to spend so much time thinking negatively. We focus on the our problems and our shortcomings and we suck the joy out of our own lives. Instead of being consumed by all of the negative, take time to see the good in your life.
Learn to Live with Less:
As as culture we have associated happiness with stuff. We think the more stuff we have the happier we will be. I know that I have had issues with retail therapy but buying myself a fancy handbag isn’t going to cure my discontentment. There isn’t anything wrong with having nice things. The problem comes when we use the things to substitute for happiness. Want to see how you’ll feel when you buy less? Try doing a no-spend month where you only spend money on the necessities.
If your life is already filled with too much stuff, you may want to consider simplifying things. Did you know that there is scientific proof that excessive clutter can lead to anxiety? Remove the clutter from your life and focus on the things that actually enhance your life.
It is so easy to look at other people and see how much better they have it. When we compare ourselves to others, we forget about the good we have in our own lives. In reality, it probably only looks like their lives are so much better than ours because we don’t see the whole picture.
Stop Judging Yourself:
A lot of unhappiness and discontent can come from judging ourselves. Maybe we wish we were thinner or more made more money…. When you are so super critical of yourself, you hinder your ability to grow. You can be content with yourself and still acknowledge areas for self-improvement.
Keep Growing and Learning:
Like we said before, contentment doesn’t mean you have to give up your goals. You can decide what you want to be and what you want in life and work toward those things. So yes you can want to be in better shape or you can want to have a more fulfilling career. You can even want these things while still being content! Be content in your daily work toward those goals.
You know the saying that happiness attracts more happiness. I think it applies to contentment too. Actively opting to be content leads to more contentment. But here is where the pattern differs because the more content you are with your life the more likely you are to find and experience happiness!