Happiness is Overrated – How to Find Contentment

For me happiness comes in twinges — when Brett agrees to watch the Voice with me, when I’m laughing with a friend over a glass of wine, when I witness Codie lick a nursing home lady full in the face.

The first sighting of a robin back from its winter getaway, that moment when reading a novel and you’ve made it through the first 50 pages and suddenly it’s grabbed you, calling you to forget your to-do list and languish in its pages.

But these moments pass.

And in its place worry and uncertainty can creep in.  For we know all too well that life can change in an instant by a phone call jarring you awake in the middle of the night, or a lump discovered one morning where there was none the day before.

So how do we find contentment that supersedes life’s precious highs and inevitable lows?

The good news is that contentment can be learned. The not so good news is that we have to seek it, practice it, and own it.

The apostle Paul said,  “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”  Paul turned to God and devoted his life to something bigger than himself.

The Dalai Lama says that contentment comes through the practice of simplicity and meditation.   “If one’s life is simple, contentment has to come. Having a few desires, feeling satisfied with what you have, is very vital. And finally, there is an intense delight in abandoning faulty states of mind and in cultivating helpful ones in meditation.”

Most thinkers agree that contentment stems from a grateful heart.  And this we can choose to cultivate.

According to the site, Zen Habits,  we can —

“Take a moment to be grateful for something. What in your life is amazing? Even if everything seems to suck, there must be one good thing. It might simply be that you have beauty somewhere nearby, or that you are alive, or that your kids are healthy. Find something, and give thanks for that.”

We can call out the helpless victim within us, the glass-half-empty persona who makes generalizations about an annoying co-worker, a distracted driver, things not going our way.  We can talk back to this persona with a different story – the driver may have just heard from her doctor; the co-worker may be getting a divorce.

We can also adopt a practice that I have personally found helpful.

I write daily thank you cards to God.  I think back to the day before and look for blessings that would otherwise have gone unnoticed.  I did not get caught in traffic.  I arrived safely at my destinations.  I got an email from an old friend.  The grocery clerk and I shared smiles and wine recommendations. I didn’t get that cold that’s going around. Brett watched a rom-com with me.   Pretty soon, I am ready for the day ahead, alert to life’s blessings that are in the making.

Benjamin Franklin said,  “Contentment makes poor men rich;  discontent makes rich men poor.”  Let’s choose to be grateful, to be satisfied,

…to be rich.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Go for a walk without your earbuds.  Instead focus on the emerging buds of springtime, the miracle of winter ending!

-Spend time with a dog, a toddler, a great book that won’t let you go.

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

2 thoughts on “Happiness is Overrated – How to Find Contentment

  1. You cannot know how glad I am to be growing in the living grateful state of mind. It is more fulfilling than one can imagine. What a difference it has made in my life to adopt the philosophy of, for an example, I don’t have to go to work, I get to go to work. How very true. I have a car, legs and arms that are working. I am blessed that I “can” go to work.

    Like

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