“When you are discontent, you always want more, more, more. Your desire can never be satisfied. But when you practice contentment, you can say to yourself, ‘Oh yes – I already have everything that I really need.” — Dalai Lama
There are people in this world who, short of major unexpected trauma, have figured out how to be truly content most of the time. They are completely at peace with who they are and what they’re doing at the moment. These people have mastered a perspective worthy of imitation.
I consider myself a content person. I’ve found that it’s easier to be content when things are going well. But when things aren’t so easy, I often find my attitude, perception, and coping strategies can change. Also, like many people, I often fall into the trap of trying to do too much and be too much. I am constantly reading and analysing how I can make my life better and began to question if I actually was a content person after all?
After much internal debate, I concluded that, at least for me, contentment wasn’t about being happy with my situation in life and yet never trying to improve it. It was more about being content with what I have but at the same time realising that as humans, we will always try to improve, no matter how happy we are. If we don’t, we have given up on life.
The Little Guide to Contentedness
Start living a more content life today, without any external changes. Here’s how to start:
Set goals that are reasonable and doable
Content people meet the goals that they set for themselves because the goals that they are setting are achievable. Do not set yourself up for failure by setting monumental goals that no person in their right mind would ever be able to achieve. Instead, break your long term goals up into smaller, more manageable short-term ones.
By setting extravagant goals aside, we can actually be in the moment that is, not in some illusory notion of what should be.
It’s a very cool and challenging practice and you just might notice yourself paying closer attention and seeing things you wouldn’t have noticed had you been looking for a fulfilled expectation.
On a regular basis, I like to reflect on all the good things in my life. I usually do this sometime in the day when I am alone (it’s generally when I driving, running, or in the shower). Just think of all the things and people you’re thankful for, and thank them silently.
- Stop comparing yourself and your life to others.
- The biggest achievements are often a result of multiple small ones. By learning to appreciate the little things, you will experience more contentment.
- Write down one thing today that makes you smile.
Enjoy the journey more than the destination
Many people are only satisfied when they have reached a certain destination. They are happy only when the work is done to their satisfaction levels. That is all well and good, but truly content people enjoy the journey as much, if not more than, the end result.
To become truly content, you need to take the time to enjoy where you are in the journey. If you enjoy your life on a daily basis, rather than always thinking about some imaginary time in the future, you will live a much calmer life.
So simply try to live your life in the present moment because everything is manageable in the present. And the present is all there really is, after all.
Personally, I celebrate the accomplishments and good things as they happen and I try to avoid, as much as possible, looking too far ahead.
- Remember that happiness is a way of travel – not a destination.
- Breathe, and smile. Sometimes when we take the time to breathe and smile, it can change our outlook on life.
- Show people you appreciate them. It’s good to appreciate people, but it’s even better to show them. Give them a hug, smile, spend time with them, thank them out loud, thank them publicly.
Always think positive
We control our thoughts. Our thoughts do not control us. But how often do we actually stop to acknowledge what we are thinking about? (I’ve been focusing on this recently and it’s an interesting exercise, and very empowering once you get the hang of it).
Pay attention to what you think about and if you are thinking out of habit, meaning you’ve thought about it so much that it’s just become ‘something you think about’ — then STOP! This type of thinking is toxic! If your thoughts aren’t nourishing you, and making you feel great, then get rid of that stuff.
If you stay positive, good things and good people will be drawn to you. This is something I know for sure is true with my own life.
- Give away something you don’t need; there’s always someone who could use it.
- Make time for downtime every day. Downtime could involve meditation, light exercise, listen to music, read something for fun—anything that puts you at ease and allows you to check out for a while. The recharge time will help you become more receptive to new ideas and inspiration.
- When you find yourself complaining, listen to yourself and write down two options for bringing change.
Being at peace in the moment will only help you attract more contentment, happiness and success into your life. Contentment isn’t some distant goal to work toward. It’s something that can be practised on a daily basis to help you achieve your goals in a healthy way. It’s good to be motivated, but sometimes just taking the pressure off can be even more effective in the long run.Active contentment is a state of mind that allows for ambition as well as peace. I challenge you to be actively content with your life. Namaste!