No one can steal contentment, joy, gratitude, or peace… we have to give it away.
As the end of summer approaches, you might notice an antsy sort of feeling creeping into your awareness…
How is it already August?!
Did I make the most of my time?
Did I give my children the happiest memories?
Did I check enough items off my bucket list?
It’s normal to reflect on our experiences this way. Especially as we shift from one season to the next.
But when it comes to our emotional wellness, these questions also signal an opportunity:
To take stock of our lives in a different way.
And practice the art of contentment.
The cousin of gratitude, contentment is the state of “feeling satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation.”
In other words, if gratitude is focused on giving thanks for what we have, contentment is focused on finding peace with all we don’t have.
It’s choosing to live from a place of ease and rest, while acknowledging you need not possess anything more in order to live that way.
Sounds simple, right?
It is. But it also takes a little practice.
Ready to see for yourself?
Read on for some simple ways to start practicing the art of contentment:
Contentment with who you are
True humility is contentment.
Henri Frederic Amiel
We live in a culture of constant self-improvement.
Just about everywhere you look (including this blog!), there’s advice, guidance, encouragement, and/or pressure to grow, develop, or change some part of yourself.
This can be very good news for your emotional wellness.
But, depending on your mindset, it can also breed potential discontentment.
So, a great place to start is with no change at all.
Just get acquainted with the traits and characteristics that make you you.
- Get to know your personality. Take a self-guided inventory and enjoy the process of (re)discovering parts of yourself.
Contentment with where you are
The world is full of people looking for spectacular happiness while they snub contentment.
We’re not “wired” for sustained satisfaction with our surroundings.
(In fact, you can probably name a dozen things you’d like to change about this moment, right now. See?)
But, as it turns out, imperfect circumstances can be powerful vehicles for contentment. And you can get there in just a few focused minutes, if you try.
So, while you may not be thrilled with every aspect of your current situation, don’t miss the opportunity to appreciate the challenges you’re not experiencing.
- Reflect on where you’ve been: Chances are, you’ve been through some challenging times in your life. Have you taken the time to really remember those times? What made them so overwhelming, painful, or difficult? In what ways is your life different now? What’s different about how you feel now?
- …and where you could be: Most of us spend a good amount of time daydreaming about the lives we wish we could have. But, what about the struggles we could be experiencing? Take some time to picture a life in which you woke up each day facing challenges you can only imagine right now. Then ask yourself: In what ways does my actual life feel different from this picture? What assets, gifts, and advantages do I have that I’ve never fully considered until now?
Contentment with what you have
Happiness is not a checklist. A dream job, a fast car, a good home, even love, mean nothing at all if you have not yet found a way to feel full and content in your own mind and heart.
No question about it:
We are living in a material world…
(You know the rest.)
And while you might think this access to abundant possessions would translate to abundant happiness, it doesn’t quite work out that way.
What does work?
By cultivating a sense of contentment with the things we already have, we can begin to understand that we have more than enough.
- Take a “contentment challenge”. Can you go 30 days without any unnecessary purchases? 2 weeks without complaining? Of course you can! Create your own challenge or search online for inspiration.
- Make a wish list. Is there something you want to buy right now? Think you’ll still want it in a month? Find out by writing it down and revisiting the idea in 5, 10, or 30 days. If you still want to buy it then, let yourself. If not, move on!
- Practice “appreciating without owning”. You don’t have to own a thing to appreciate it. Remind yourself of this by visiting an art gallery, taking a tour of homes, watching a travel documentary, or wandering through a favorite store. Pause to engage your senses, notice what you like, and then move on without buying anything. You’ll be amazed how freeing it can be for your mind (…and your wallet).
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Ready to bring more contentment to your life?