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Elusive Contentment

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Why are so many of us not content with our lives?  Did we learn early on that being content is a form of laziness or giving up?  Some believe that contentment implies settling and not setting anymore more goals for the future.  Or maybe we are consumed with anger or fear which steals our peace.  Some of us, including myself, recognize the benefits of contentment, but are still constantly in the mode of achieving more and striving for excellence.  Many high achievers are very competitive and are constantly working to accomplish greater goals and thus operate from a never-good-enough mindset.  Let me suggest that being content and continuing to excel in life don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  We can experience contentment while continuing to be goal-oriented and success-driven.

Contentment is a peaceful satisfaction with life and a happiness with things as they are now.  Personally, I believe that contentment is an internal state of mind and an attitude that we choose to adopt or not.  Often we are restless inside looking for the next thing to make us happy and not experiencing the level of happiness that we hoped for.  It may be that we focus more on our wants instead our needs which results in dissatisfaction since we can never fulfill all of our wants.  Why do people in some of the poorest countries have the greatest level of happiness and contentment?  I believe it is because their focus is on what they have instead of what they don’t have.  Some research suggests that their joy results from moral satisfaction and that they have stronger social connections which contribute to their happiness.

So what is the key to contentment?  For starters, develop an attitude of gratitude and focus on giving back.  We can have greater peace when we let go of our inner turmoil, forgive others, and embrace humility.  When we stop comparing ourselves to others and recognize our positive traits, our level of contentment will increase.  Another strategy to find contentment is by simplifying life and developing a minimalist mindset.  Focusing less on things and more on healthy relationships can bring satisfaction.  Also learning to be still, finding purpose, and developing an optimistic attitude will create greater happiness.  Lastly, believing that “I am enough,” can create greater inner peace.  Remember that contentment does not equal complacency and continue to learn and grow as a person.

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