“Whatever we are waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance – it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart.” Sarah Ban Breathnach
Contentment is our ability to embrace what is with satisfaction while still fulfilling our needs to achieve our personal best. In this post I share 18 of the many ways to cultivate contentment in our lives. Most likely you are doing a few of these at least periodically, if you find yourself striving to achieve, get more, or change something so you will be happier consider a few of the tips in the below list.
- Count Your Blessings. When we count our blessings we focus on what we have. When we see what we have, what we have achieved, and where we are in life as a blessing we express gratitude, appreciation, and satisfaction.
- Stop and Remember the Good Things. We can get caught up in the current of life, but when we stop and take a true assessment of the good we have in our lives we shift ourselves from striving for more (or something else) to contentment in what we have been blessed with.
- Consider Why: Why do you want or need something else? Do you want it because it is the next fashion, it adds to your dust gathering collection, it is a status symbol, or because it blesses your heart? Do you want it so others will see you differently or because it will make you happier? Or why do you need it? Do you have something else that would serve the purpose, save your money, and not add to your “stuff”? Or do you need it because it is a real need for you?
- Embrace Gratitude. Gratitude is a matter of perspective; it is a choice we make. Contentment will only come when we stop saying “I will be happy/content when ___” and start saying “Thanks”. Life is a gift and filled with 1000’s of simple pleasures. Each day express gratitude for at least one of your blessings first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
- Express Love. “I love you.” Use the term at least once a day to another person and once a day to yourself. There are many ways to express love and the best way to express it is in a way that is well received. Learn to love those around you in a way that blesses them. If time with the individual is the key, spend time. If verbal expression is the key, learn to verbally express yourself.
- Breathe and Smile. Stop and take a cleansing breath, refocus your thoughts on the present moment, and smile. Do this at least three times a day and anytime you find yourself caught up in negative reminiscing about the past or worrying about the future. Stop and breathe yourself back into the present.
- Enjoy the Simple Life. When we remove the rushing, the striving, the chaos, the over commitments we are left with a simpler life. When we remove the over spending, the image building, the credit card bills we enjoy a simpler life. A simple life is what we get when we remove the chaos that prevents us from achieving contentment.
- Embrace Humility. We can all get caught up in the image we want to portray to others. At times we work at how we want others to perceive us, but what happens when we simply embrace a humbler self, drop the image, and be ourselves? We lighten our own load and become real. We connect with others and find contentment with ourselves because the real us is so much more fantastic than the one that strives to be something we are not.
- Recognize Enough. What is enough for you? When does a child have too many toys to enjoy? When do our prized possessions become a burden, a distraction, or clutter in our homes? When does our excess turn into hoarding and gluttony? When can we part with things, be content with what is enough, and bless others with the abundance we have gained?
- Simplify Your Thoughts. What brings unnecessary stress into your life? What clutters your thoughts and distracts you from your happiness? Living simply means we remove the distraction so we can live with more purpose and more peace.
- Have Real Fun. We have been there…a night out doing all the “fun” things with the “right” people at the “hippest” place and we really just want to build and decorate a blanket tent in the living room and read stories under the twinkle lights we are pretending are stars with our kids. Start trading what you should be doing for what is really fun to you. Life passes too quickly to spend so much of our free time not fully enjoying ourselves.
- Make Room for Quiet. Making room for quiet is creating a physiological place where your breathing calms, your thoughts can be captured, your mind finds peace. When we can quiet ourselves regardless of our surroundings we bask in contentment.
- Happiness. What if happiness really is 50% DNA, 10% Life Circumstance, and 40% Intentional Thoughts, Behaviors and Activities? Let’s assume this is true. Are your thoughts and behaviors helping you to find happiness? Or are you searching for the circumstance that will make you happier. Focus on your thoughts, perceptions, behaviors, and your activities and you will shift your life towards happiness and contentment.
- Invest in Relationships. One of the keys to living a fulfilled life is the relationships we maintain. Invest time into the relationships that make your life better, inspire and support you, and bring you joy. Divest in the relationships that bring disruption, stress, and turmoil. Set up time each week to reconnect with someone you have lost contact with or you want to get to know better.
- Surround Yourself with Happy People. We do not get to choose everyone that surrounds us, but for those we do choose on a personal level chose those that are happy. Chose those who know happiness is a choice and have chosen it. Chose those who share their happiness with you and want to see you happy too.
- Use Kind Words and Actions. The words we use are 100% our choice. When we are taking actions to cultivate contentment chose words and actions that you think would flow from that source. This is a fake it until you make it form of cultivation. When we speak positive words consistently we start to believe those positives. The words we speak and the actions we take can transport our thoughts and perceptions to a place of contentment.
- Critique Carefully. There will be times when another person’s behavior interferes with your ability to be content with life. When I have found myself in this situation, I found I carried a burden that lead to discontent. I needed to address the situation so the relationship could change and continue or discontinue the relationship. It is at these times that a careful critique is necessary.
- Express Appreciation. The most effective expression of appreciation follows a simple three step formula that anyone can use: “Thank you for ___(the action or behavior)___ this ___(the impact or why you appreciated this)___.” Following this simple formula clearly expresses appreciation, provides clear feedback, and teaches others how to please you. When you are pleased, you are content.
Today’s Simple Smile Igniter is to cultivate more contentment in your life. Which of the tips above struck a chord with you? Which would improve your level of satisfaction in life? If you focused on one of the above tips for 30 days would your life change for the better?