“Happiness belongs to those who are easily contented.”
There are times in my life when I’ve found it easier than other times to be content – to be peaceful, not want, happy with what I have and where my life is going. There are other times, in constrast, where this has not been the case. Times where I have looked outside of my life, beyond the things I have, and have wanted for more. I’m not saying that wanting to improve one’s life is discontentment. To strive for excellence and the improvement of one’s self is based in a purer place than discontentment as the end result can actually be beneficial to those around us. Discontentment, at its core, involves more self-centeredness than anything, as its end result focuses on self rather than others.
In those discontented times, I’ve found the more I want that I don’t already have, the more I tend to have “The Wants.” Nothing is good enough. Nothing fulfills. Nothing scratches that itch. I find during those times when I’m most discontent I also tend to raise the bar, I seek more but never get to what it is I think I want, whatever “It” is. Being discontent is a lonely, nagging, aching feeling. It’s clearly something I try to avoid though now and then like many of us I do find myself in a discontented place. I want to say I don’t know how I get there, but if I’m honest with myself I know the answer without hesitation: I stopped being grateful for what I have.
For me, the path from discontentment back to the comfort and peace of contentment is found by counting my blessings. It seems a trite statement, but try it. When I look at my life it’s hard not to see how everything I need is right in front of me. When I realize that people, things, status, jobs, or ___________ can’t truly make me a happier person because of the likelihood that all of those things can (and will) let me down, I find that the onus is upon myself alone – how I choose to respond to the life I’m living right now. It’s not to say there aren’t things I need to change, or there aren’t areas in which I need to grow, but that I have enough. And if I’m honest, I don’t want for anything. The life I have has beauty, vibrancy, joy, love, and peace if I’m just willing to look for and embrace it.
Now godliness with contentment is great gain. – 1 Timothy 6:6
When I think about all I have, all I have been given, my selfish tendency for discontentment fades fairly quickly. Below is a short list of things in my life I am grateful for.My blessings, in no particular order:
- I have my health
- I have a beautiful home in a neighborhood that is safe enough
- I have family that loves me as I am
- I have friends that love me as I am
- I have a husband that loves and adores me and is so very good to me
- I have a job that fits my personality and my strengths
- I have 2 really sweet cats
- I live in a country where I’m free to work, vote, worship, and live my life relatively undisturbed
- I have money to pay bills, buy food, and even some extra to do fun things
- I have the capacity to be further educated academically as well as creatively
- I have a closet full of clothes
- I have creature comforts that make it so I’d never have to leave my home if I didn’t have to
My list of blessings could go on and on. Frankly, after a while of listing I do start to feel foolish and selfish. How could I ever be discontented with the life I’m describing? Exactly!
But even if my list were half that long, the truth is that contentment has to come from a place of seeing that I have enough right now, and that I truly want for nothing.
Tomorrow half my list could be wiped out by any number of things – an accident on the way to work, a disaster, a job loss, etc. Contentment is seeing that I have enough right now, that I’m happy with what I have and no more than that, regardless of how long my list of blessings might be.
Moreover, my list of blessings doesn’t have to be long in order to be a content person. Once I adopt a grateful heart, my list of blessings naturally becomes longer as I am more willing to find joy in even the smallest of blessings. Again I find it’s not the list of what I have or what I don’t have, but the attitude in which I embrace the life I’m living right now that makes the difference between contentment and discontentment.
As I’m striving to strategically craft a happier life, contentment in all things has to be at the core.