I feel that this adjective has been a lot harder for me as I have gotten older. Normally you would think it would be the other way around, but I believe the problem arises with the ability to think longer and harder about life. When I was a child my discontentment was easily and quickly satisfied. Now that I am older the things I become discontent about are not as easily solved. When my priorities get out of order and I find my dreams at a distance that is seemingly unreachable I can fall into a pit of misery that words are not always able to describe. This frustrates me to no end. I look at some of the people I look up to the most and watch as they go through trials that are much more difficult than my own and to my utter wonder they manage to stay content through it all. Even as a Christian I find this earth shattering. It is always a great cause for self reflection.
What exactly does it take to be content? Even more to the basic point, what is contentment? Websters Dictionary defines contentment as “a state of happiness and satisfaction; ease of mind.” When I think about the word it brings about ideas of peace and serenity. A calm that overtakes you even in the midst of a storm. It means not coveting what other people have and being happy with what you possess. It means patiently waiting for your dreams to come true, and a calm acceptance if they never do. It means being grateful for the life you have been given and finding pleasure in the simple things surrounding you. I feel that this is where I struggle. It is much easier said than done.
Why is it so hard? I’ve thought that maybe I am just truly a selfish person at heart. Maybe contentment has always been an idea in my head but never something that has been translated to my soul. Perhaps my focus is always in the wrong place and therefore a wall has been erected to obstruct my view from that brighter place. Or, that relationship with God that I claim to hold to is something I do not grasp as tightly as I should. Thinking about all of this out loud with you is making me realize that it is probably all of those things.
So what is the cure? (so to speak) In my own reflections I have come up with a few things I would like to share with you.
Start each morning early enough to take things slowly. Focus on enjoying each moment. The brewing process of that perfect cup of coffee, the pleasant crunch and rich flavor of that delicious piece of toast and jam. Let yourself wake up fully in the peaceful silence and reflect on all the things you have to be thankful for. Maybe even write it all down if that helps you to remember. I have a friend that has a jar she fills with blessings, and on dark days she sits down and dumps them all out to read. It reminds her not to doubt in the dark what she has seen in the light.
Surround yourself with encouraging, lively, happy people. These people should be your closest friends. If you are in with the wrong crowd, leave it. I know it may be hard and it may seem like you will not be able to find anyone else to be with, but I promise you there are wonderful people everywhere. Church is a good place to look if it’s a genuine one. It is also so much easier to connect with real people online these days.
Pray a lot. Pray for others more than yourself. When you are intentionally focusing positively on other people it is incredibly hard to stay in a negative stupor.
Get out in nature as much as you can. Stay away from technology as often as possible and allow yourself to enjoy the beauty of the day. Sometimes when we are surrounded by four walls and little light all the time it can create a feeling of being trapped in darkness, which is incredibly lonely.
Get involved in volunteering. Like prayer, it gets you out of that stupor. It’s hard to be in a bad mood when you are intentionally serving others. You also meet some pretty amazing people and see those who have less than you that are perfectly happy. It can be life changing.
Avoid social media more often. It is easily the worst place to spend the majority of your time. People usually only post the best of their lives on these sites and you can quickly find yourself comparing your life to theirs. Jealousy is an ugly green monster that creeps its way through awesome pictures, attractive people, and adventurous stories. In truth everyone has problems and these people are no better than you and probably also struggle with all the same things you do. Try not to put others on pedestals they do not belong on. You should compare yourself to no one.
Find things you love and get into them when you have free time. Being actively involved in something you are passionate about, no matter what it is, goes a long way to making days that seem mostly mundane brighter. Even if you can not do what you love for a living, you can fill the rest of your time with something that helps balance that out. Who knows, if you become a master of what you love you may end up making whatever that is into a living one day any way. You never know until you try.
There you have it. My reflections for the week. I hope it has encouraged some of you to know you are not alone with your struggles and that there are ways to fight that discontentment.
I love and appreciate you all! Remember to live well! We will talk again, hopefully sooner than later. 😉