Someone asked me the other day why would they “choose to settle for contentment over happiness?” Such a good question! I say you don’t settle for contentment! It isn’t an either/or question. (Settling implies less than, a kind a giving up, of taking only a little of what you can get, or a lack of something …and it sure isn’t very compelling.)
Contentment is a harmonious state of being. To be content is to be mentally and emotionally satisfied even while all your other feelings come and go. When you cultivate contentment it leads to a steady state of being unshakably ok.
- Contentment is a steady state of (Happiness is a feeling that will come and go as part of an overall life experience.)
- Contentment is available to experience in the simple, ordinary, and seemingly insignificant ways you engage with your life as you live it from day to day.
- Contentment is possible to establish as a foundation of being (for being unshakably ok) regardless of feelings like happiness, anger, sadness, or worry or any of the others that come and go.
- Contentment is transformative and
Here’s how I know… In the spring of 2013, discontentment had a crushing hold on my life. Everyday feelings of sadness, loneliness, and fear were the rule for me (instead of the exception).
I was in constant pain from a cycling injury the year before. My best friend was battling breast cancer. Being a single mom of a teenage son was anything but easy (and I was about to be an empty-nester). My heart even did a wacky supraventricular tachycardia thing that scared the heck out of me.
Things felt pretty rough. I struggled every day to keep it all together.
The hardest part was getting up every morning and trying to convince myself that I shouldn’t feel so miserable because my life was mostly good. Or so it looked from the outside. I had a great job teaching at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. I had a successful private psychotherapy practice with plenty of clients. I had incredible friends and a family nearby that showered me with love.
Underneath all of it, however, I was lonely, frightened, overwhelmed, and heartbroken. It was hard to imagine that I would ever feel good again.
And still, I longed to be unshakably okay despite what was going on in my life. I wondered if it was possible to feel all my feelings (even the ones that didn’t feel so great to have) and still be ok.
As my discontentment became more and more unbearable, this longing inside of me grew ever stronger. It became so strong that I simply couldn’t stand to lose another day to feeling miserable. So, I set about examining my life as I looked for a way to rid myself of discontentment. I expected the answers to be complicated.
I discovered quite the opposite (and the Everyday52™ cards are the result!)
I shifted my attention to the seemingly insignificant and the ordinary actions of my days and I became intentional with the little things. Very simply, how I lived my everyday life transformed my everyday life as I practiced doing something intentional each week.
Along the way, I found the places in my life where I wasn’t paying enough (or hardly any) attention, and I paid attention. I discovered that by practicing contentment I was able to create a state of contentment and it is the state of contentment that made feeling all my feelings much less of a big deal.
I discovered the extraordinary in my everyday!
Many people don’t do anything about feeling discontentment until some major life event occurs that forces them to examine their lives. It doesn’t have to be this way for you.
The good news – it is possible, and actually quite simple, for you to experience true contentment in your everyday, too.
(And a little more good news – my back pain has eased, my best friend is a survivor, my youngest is doing great at university, and my heart is good!)
Don’t settle for contentment. Cultivate it!
Here’s to your extraordinary everyday,