I am acquainted with two women, one older than I am and the other much younger. Both of them have one thing common to them. They are not happy with where they are in life and they show it in their speech and their manners in different ways. Both women are constantly comparing themselves with their friends and contemporaries. The younger lady looks with envy at her friends who she feels have made it in life faster than her. Though happy for them and their achievements, it makes her reflect always on her own position. Though she claims to be thankful, she still cannot shake the feeling that she hasn’t accomplished much. Looking at her, though, she has done very well for herself.
The older woman looks back at her life and sees only the opportunities she missed. She doesn’t seem to appreciate the things that are good and going well in her life. The two women reflect their unhappiness in their attitudes, prayers, wishes and conversations. They take it out on their loved ones urging them to achieve what they themselves have not been able to achieve. These women miss the gift of good health, of good spouses, good children, a roof over their heads, food to eat, clothes to wear and the fact that they are able to pay their bills.
Wikipedia defines contentment -as an emotional state of satisfaction that can be seen as a mental state drawn from being at ease in one’s situation, body and mind. Colloquially speaking, contentment can be a state of having accepted one’s situation. It is a milder and more tentative form of happiness”
It is said that to understand what a thing is we must first understand what it is not.
Contentment is not being satisfied with mediocrity. It is not a lack of aspirations and ambition. It is not being lazy and allowing opportunities to pass us by without striving for them. It is not dependent on what we have, who we are or what we have achieved.
It is rather the choice of thoughts, attitudes and behavior that makes us accepting of life as it is happening whilst we hope and aspire for more out of life.
If there is one thing that I have learnt this past year and I have discovered a lot of things about myself by the way. I like clothes and fashion accessories. The amount of money I spent buying clothes and accessories this past year have surpassed all the other years. At first, my excuse was that I was celebrating my 50th birthday but that excuse is no longer tenable because it’s well over one year and I am still buying. At a time, it seemed to me that I bought everything my eyes desired that I could afford. Instagram enabled me. Thankfully, I did not go into debt but I did divert monies I could have spent on other things on my vice. My wake up moment came when I began buying things I had been coveting immediately money came into my hands before paying for my necessities.
See how I learnt to cultivate to some degree a spirit of contentment
- Goals with no barriers-I have decided not to work by any time limitations. I do not have a must achieve by xxx list. I no longer tie my goals and targets to a specific period. Yes I know we’ve been told to have written goals. And to make them S.MA.R.T. That’s good but I have found out that things have worked for me better when I didn’t put time limits on the things I want to achieve. The truth is that I eventually get to where I want to be, albeit at times later than I want. But the important thing is that I arrive at the destination I have set for myself. It is important that we ask ourselves how we came to the time limits we put on ourselves to achieve certain goals like marriage, have children, professional qualifications etc. We might just find out that we have fashioned our lives according to the expectations of society.
- Gratitude – This I believe is a major key to being contented and it cannot be over stressed. A grateful heart is a contented soul and there is always something to be grateful for. Things could be worse, you have it better than most and change is inevitable.
- Be realistic– When we compare ourselves with others we tend to look at only the perks of their positions and what they have. We never look at the disadvantages. The truth is that for every thing we have, there are disadvantages. The student wants to leave school and start working. The worker wishes he had the freedom he had as a student. The married woman wishes she has time to herself. The single woman wishes to be married not seeing her independence and freedom as a blessing.
- Simplify your life. The major lesson I learnt from the Covid pandemic was that we don’t really need much to live and live well. Our basic needs are simple enough. The truth is that we will all not prosper at the same levels. So if you have enough to eat, drink and meet most of your basic needs, relax. The advent of social media has made us think we need to have certain things. For instance, I don’t need to buy a pancake maker, waffle maker, iron cast frypan, non stick frying pan, air fryer etc. One or two of the above utensils will do the job of them all.
- Don’t fuel your discontent-Avoid things that fuel your discontent eg social media. In order to curb my rising addiction to buying clothes, I blocked many of the vendors I followed on Instagram. I don’t get to see their posts or sponsored adverts and it has greatly helped to curb my appetite, after all you can’t hunger after what you can’t see.
- You can’t have everything-Accept that you can’t have everything you want. I had to come to the realization that I couldn’t afford to buy or even keep everything my eyes desired. The desire to have everything we want has led to many piercing themselves with many sorrows. Something’s though desirable are unattainable. Live with it.
- Find the good-In all find your sweet spot, something that makes you happy. It may or may not be financially rewarding but should be meaningful and fulfill you. The truth is that it’s easier to be content when you are emotionally fulfilled and fill that your life has a purpose.
Let’s reflect as we all be take stock of the things that did or did not go according to our plans; goals we met or didn’t meet. As we go through our journals, let’s reflect on the things that did go well.
Dwell on the positive things that happened, especially that we didn’t plan for. In the New Year, let’s aspire but be content to run our race the way we know how to. Let’s believe that all things good will come in their time. We cannot control the timing of the all seasons of life. We are in only in control of what we allow the life to turn us into. Someone rightly said “It’s our approach to the seasons we’d rather not be in especially, that does a good deal to determine the types of people we’ll become.”
Final takeaway-Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. Timothy 6:6-8