How to Be Content with Your Life

How to Be Content with Your Life

When I’m married, I’ll finally be happy.

As soon as I’m able to get out of this apartment and buy my own house, I’ll be content.

If I can quit my job and work for myself, I’ll finally have it all.

As a culture, we are always looking for the next thing that will bring happiness. A bigger house, a newer car, a better partner, or a slimmer waistline.

Simply put, we aren’t content.

We spend so much time worrying about what we don’t have that we have a hard time seeing what we do have.

We’ve forgotten how to live fully in the moment, being present, finding joy in the life we have. Or maybe we just never learned how in the first place.

According to the latest Harris poll, only 38% of Americans claim to be happy.

 

Some causes of discontent:

 

Perfectionism

Perfectionism is the driving need to attain flawlessness in all areas of life. Because it’s unattainable, perfectionism has been linked to eating disorders, anxiety and depression, and general unhappiness.

One of my biggest struggles is perfectionism, and I see how it affects my moods, my productivity, and my relationships. When you live in the fog of striving for flawlessness, you’re constantly focusing on negativity.

But what if I fail? I won’t be loved anymore.

If I make a mistake, I won’t be trusted after that.

Nobody will ever want me; I’m so messed up.

The plague of perfectionism spreads quickly and soon poisons your bloodstream like a cancer that just won’t quit.

 

Expectations

Unfortunately, expectations go hand-in-hand with perfectionism. We sometimes place such high expectations on others that there is no way they can ever fulfill our needs.

When we do this, we remove the freedom to live in our humanness. The beauty of human relationships is that we can meet on this common ground and decide to do life together, even with its messiness.

In past relationships, I have been quick to find flaws and convince myself that the person wasn’t for me because of those flaws. I know! It sounds terrible now that I’m writing it, but I can see the root clearly- expectation of perfection.

 

Comparison

The ever-popular, always-pinned quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” is absolutely true. How can you possibly be content with your own life if you’re constantly looking around you to make sure you measure up to a perceived standard for happiness? If you spend all your time trying to “keep up with the Joneses,” you will never love your own life.

Social media promotes comparison. Carefully curated feeds and albums let you see what people want you to see; they rarely show the imperfection of human life. The ironic thing is that when we find someone who is willing to share their real life with us, we cling to their every post. Vloggers are often loved because they are willing to give us a glimpse into their real lives, although I suspect that a lot of editing goes into those videos before the upload button is clicked.

Do you ever find yourself passively thinking, “I wish my living room looked like that” or “How are her kids always clean, perfect little angels and mine are covered with ketchup and dirt all the time”?

 

Desire for wealth and possessions

“If you are not content today, there is nothing you can buy this weekend to change that.” — Joshua Becker

We Americans are inundated daily with messages that promote getting more, having more, making more money, etc. If we have more money, we can take those Hawaiian vacations. When we have a bigger house, we will have more friends. If we get that promotion, we can finally buy that boat we’ve always wanted.

A recent Gallup poll shows that only 14% of Americans are content in the area of money.

 

Being too busy

Our schedules have become nightmares. Our kids play on every sports team they can, we volunteer for committees and organizations, and we work more hours than we ever have before as a society. Commute times have become outrageous, and family dinners seem to be a thing of the past.

We are always chasing the next thing, and we’ve fooled ourselves into thinking we’re chasing happiness.

 

How can you be content in this hurried culture?

 

Simple living

Simple living is the voluntary practice of improving your lifestyle by simplifying everything you can. It includes practices such as minimalism, self-sufficiency, mindful eating, and frugality.

People choose to live simply for many reasons: health, spirituality, stress reduction, work-life balance, increased quality time, and improved relationships.

One area worth exploring is essentialism. Essentialism is the pursuit of living with only what you need. Its cousin, minimalism, is very similar but often brings to mind pictures of a stark white room with a single piece of furniture in it; this tends to turn some people away.

Essentialism is the opposite of consumerism and materialism. Basically, we have too much stuff, and I guarantee we don’t use most of it.

 

Declutter

Clutter is linked to stress and depression, and it may make you think that you don’t have enough space (leading to discontentment).

There is a strong belief that the need to keep things we don’t need is tied to fear. We wrap our possessions in the gift wrap of emotion, believing that we need our “stuff” to be okay. Often, we we set out to purge our clutter, we end up keeping it all because we fear we may need it one day.

Clutter holds your emotions, just as eating can. It traps you and steals your life, making you want more and more so you can be happy.

 

Related post: How to Break Free of Emotional Eating

 

Another aspect of simple living is intentionality. Living intentionally is being mindful of your choices, how you spend your time, your habits, the food you eat, and your thinking.

Be fully present wherever you are. Stop and take in your surroundings. Use your senses to imprint this moment on your mind. This is where life really happens.

 

Related Posts: 5 Habits to Remove from your Life Right Now, How to Stop Negative Thinking

 

Get up early on Saturday morning, brew a cup of steaming hot tea or coffee, light a candle, and enjoy the silence. Take time to reflect and think. Morning stillness can be magical if you aren’t spending that time snoring in your bed. Create hygge daily wherever you can.

 

Gratitude

Mindset is everything. If you can control and frame your thinking, you will find contentment in every situation.

Being grateful has been proven to improve quality of life. It helps you to focus on what you already have rather than wishing for what you don’t have.

Gratitude boosts confidence, causes you to worry less, gives you better sleep, improves your relationships, and leads to generosity.

Try writing down as many things as you can think of that you are thankful for. Some people commit to writing just 3 per day, and even this small number makes a big difference.

 

Related Posts: 3 Reasons to Journal Every Day, 6 Ways to Add Joy Every Day

 

Slowing down

Learn to say no (without feeling guilty). Stop glorifying busyness. Declutter your schedule.

It isn’t inherently better to be busy all the time. It doesn’t make you a better person or parent. In fact, it can actually make you less effective!

We weren’t made to constantly be on the go. Without time to rest and regroup, we quickly become moody, tired, and discontent.

 

Related Post: 10 Ways to Deal with Stress and Overwhelm

 

Kill perfectionism and people-pleasing

Go easy on yourself! Be okay with mistakes, understanding that they bring about growth. I challenge you to make a list of all those crazy scenarios in your head where people abandon you or yell at you because you’ve messed up; then, reframe your thinking. Think about what would really happen if someone was disappointed with you. Ask a friend to help you with this if you don’t think you can get out of your head to try it.

Anxiety comes when our fears masquerade as our reality, and it’s very healthy to determine what reality actually is.

 

Contentment is all about perspective and how you see your world. You will always find what you look for.

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.” -Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

 

Follow:
  • Radical Transformation Project

    I’m definitely going to try and remember these tips this week. I have really been glorifying busy lately and when I’m not doing something “productive” I feel guilty. I’m going to try and slow down a little bit and take some time for myself and not feel bad about it.
    -Faith
    http://www.radicaltransformationproject.com

    • I struggle with guilt for not being productive as well, but I think we have to remember that self-care IS productive!!! <3 Thanks for reading!

  • We should enjoy the moments we live in, afterall its all we have actually got! love it!
    Have an amazing week & thank you for the inspiration!
    Xx Caroline Flowers
    https://www.foreverdolledup.net/blogs/news

  • Holly Davis

    Great list! Gratitude and comparing myself to others – those are some things I need to work on!

    • Both tough ones, but both doable! Do you have a gratitude journal? That’s a really good tangible way to get started!

  • This is a great post and it brings up some really important points!

  • sue

    A great reminder to us all. I’ve made May my month of happiness and believe that happiness really comes from within. Thanks for sharing with us at #overthemoon. I’ve pinned and shared.

    • Ooh, tell me more about this month of happiness!!! What’s your plan?

  • April Kitchens

    This was a great post, definitely something I needed to read today.

  • Carrie J Myers

    Great post as usual..Still working on the intentional living part..and not letting the anxiety sweep me away..Every day can be a challenge but I’m working on it..The nicer weather helps my mood as well..Michigan can be a pain for weather

    • Anxiety is tough… I know it well. But if we make progress, we’re slowly beating it! I’m proud of you!!!

  • I definitely need to declutter! This post was fantastic. I also am working on saying no to things without feeling guilt; it’s hard but so needed.

    • Thanks, lovely girl!!! And yes, saying no without feeling guilty is HARD! But it’s so worth it in the end. You’ll be a better everything to everyone if you make sure you take care of yourself!

  • Debbie Kitterman

    Kathryn – great post – several ideas an tips you shared I definitely need to me implementing – but the one that is ringing the loudest is not being so busy and clearing my schedule. Your neighbor today at #CoffeeForYourHeart

    PS.. if you are looking for another place to link to on Thursday’s I would love if you would consider joining my new linkup #TuneInThursday – it opens Thursday 3am PST and runs through Sunday night. you can find it at debbiekitterman.com/blog (Please feel free to delete the link if you think it inappropriate).

    • I’m so glad you dropped by today, Debbie!!! And thanks for the info about another linkup!!! 🙂

  • Jhilmil Bhansali

    What a great post, Comparison burns , I see it so rampant from moms comparing lil kids to people comparing friends, neighbours. I really feel sad to see all this. We need to be contented with what we have. There are so many people who might have lesser than us but they are also happy.

  • Crisly

    Im just grateful for everything that I have right now. My friends, although not too many, but hey, quality over quantity right? My family, and especially my unmarried husband who always supports and encourage me. Good read, I enjoyed reading this, thank you for sharing.
    If you won’t mind I leave my link to my blog. I’m a new blogger by the way, still learning.
    https://crislyxyz.wordpress.com/2017/05/14/courage-to-let-go-and-move-on/

  • Oh, my goodness, this post really touched me! I definitely suffer from perfectionism and setting too high expectations (for myself), which leads to discontentment and just plain feeling worn out. And I don’t spend enough time practicing gratitude, which is an amazing way to change our mindsets. I am a big fan of personal growth and development, but too often I find myself putting off happiness until I achieve x,y, and z. I actually wrote a letter to myself, to stop the habit of putting off happiness. http://seekingjoyfulsimplicity.com/letter-to-myself-stop-putting-off-happiness/

    • Hey Michelle, thanks so much for reading! Perfectionism is such a huge struggle for so many of us, but I know we can get rid of it if we are intentional and encourage one another!

  • Kate Campion

    i really like this post, and was pretty shocked with the stats for happiness and money. This drive for more achieves nothing. My husband and I recently built a house- we opted for three bedrooms and one main open plan living area as my two kids have left home and this size suits us perfectly while still having their own rooms for visits. You would not believe the pressure and comments we got about our small home and how we should have added another bedroom! The essentialism idea speaks to me and I’ll check it out.

    • I have a smaller home compared to most, but sometimes I think I want to downsize even more. I don’t know why our culture thinks that we have to have tons of space! I’m so glad you came by today, Kate. 🙂

  • Nicely written. Being a little less perfect is okay. You’ll feel happier and less stressed out when you lower your expectations. Anyway, nothing and nobody is perfect, right? Visiting from #SITS

  • Aimee

    Visting from Holley Gerth. I so resonate with this post. I began the simple living journey about 13 years ago and it has made life beautiful + sustainable with six children. Essentialism is so important. Less but better!

    • I’m new to it, and I’m so excited to get started!! Thanks for reading! <3