The world throws ‘want’ at us daily. Media has been structured to elicit desire. Marketers create products to fill a need where there was none before. Contentment no longer holds the same meaning. Rather than a value we all seek in life, it has connotations of laziness or a lack of ambition.
How can we be happy with what we have? How can we begin to make this a reality when the world is fighting so hard to sell us more?
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Intention in Life is Key
We must decide that contentment is something we want and then pursue it. First, we need to understand what contentment is and what it is not. Contentment is not laziness because it is not an action. Instead, contentment is an inner quality that remains calm despite the storms that are around us. There is an unmistakable freedom in contentment. Being satisfied with one’s possessions, status or situation is freeing. It is a choice made for happiness despite what obstacles come. It is a grounding in what is good and pure in life. We must intentionally choose contentment every day.
Following are a few ways we can choose to be happier with what we have:
When we give, we are reminded that we can, in fact, change the world.
“Most people would think that if you make more money you are going to be a lot happier,” said Michael Norton, a professor at Harvard Business School. “Our results, and a lot of other people’s results, show that making more money makes you a little bit happier, but doesn’t really have a huge impact on you.”
In fact, their results showed that it was in giving to others that people found greater happiness. (Read: The path to happiness: it is better to give than receive)
According to Harvard Health, giving thanks can make you happier. Gratitude helps us refocus on what we already have rather than focus on what we want. It is easy to practice. Start by writing thank you notes, keep a gratitude journal, or simply say thank you to anyone who extends a helping hand.
Start by consciously choosing contentment. Be aware of decisions and how they impact the world around you. Make a commitment to be grateful daily. Look for ways to give. Schedule your day. Be intentional about daily goals and tasks. Structure your day towards success. What do you give your time to? Is there a way you can restructure your time to make your day more pleasant and fill it with more of what matters to you?
Comparing ourselves to others is an easy trap to fall into. Stop doing it. Remember that the path you are on is your path. No one else can walk it but you. If you are finding it difficult then try shutting off social media and the news for a few days. Focus in on your own talents. Surround yourself with positive people who are not interested in competing with one another, but rather people who offer encouragement to one another.
Work on you
Focus inward. What areas need improvement? Are you practicing self-care? If not then it is time to begin. There are several ways to start from setting time aside for a favorite hobby, reading a good book, dry brushing, meditate, exercise, etc.
Every individual’s self-care will look different. Here are 7 Self-Care Rituals That Will Make You Happier and Healthier. You might find a new one in the list that is just right.
Why is it so important to be happy with what you have? Contentment and happiness lead to a more fulfilling life. Happiness brings emotional and physical health benefits. It is contagious and brings joy to the people around us. Living a life happy with what you have changes the world you live in for the better.
When we intentionally invest in others we are letting them know they matter.
When we are grateful for the people in our lives we are letting them know they matter.
When we become intentional in our day the things and people we give our time to become more valuable.
When we stop comparing and begin working on our inward self then we notice we matter too.
Do you see a theme?
Happiness is contagious because it is telling the world I matter and so do you. This moment matters, this task I am investing my time in matters, the choice to be content is a declaration of value. Life is to be cherished, every moment and every person in it. Happiness is your way, and mine, of saying that today holds value. Choose happiness, choose contentment, and begin spreading joy.