“[Contentment is] looking around at your perfectly-imperfect life, waking up to the little graces, and being ok with it, instead of constantly seeing happiness over there.” -Rachel Meyer
In the last couple of months, I have been suffering from the “I wants”: a destructive pattern of thinking if I just purchased a few new things, got more time alone, or found the perfect part-time job I would magically feel better.
I found myself starting almost every thought with, “I want____ or I want _____”. It was completely exhausting.
After talking venting to my dear friend Ashely, she encouraged me to get to the root of why I felt like I did. So, I decided to sit down tease out the following:
- What I wanted
- Why I wanted it
- What I already have
- What I actually need
Here are a few examples:
|What I wanted||Why||What I already have||What I actually need|
|A stimulating, fulfilling job with consistent hours that will still allow me to spend the majority of my time with our young kids.||It feels like my professional life has been completely diminished to take care of our family, and with it some of the parts of myself that I value the most.||The gift of being able to stay at home with our children most of the time, while also still getting to teach.||To recognize that this time temporary. To understand that our kids are growing up so quickly and one day I will look back on this time (as challenging as it is) and realize how special it was. To slow down to appreciate the small moments with my children.|
|More time alone to read, write, think, relax, take a nap, the list goes on forever…||Quiet down time is so rare in this phase of life.||Lots of time with our family. A chance to create memories with our children from a young age. Unscheduled time to go for bike rides, head to the pool, play in the backyard, host the neighbors’ kids for an impromptu soccer game, explore the alley behind our house, etc.||To change my expectations of how I can spend my time these days. To put my phone down and soak up the time few minutes I get alone. To savor this stage.|
|New shorts for summer.||I hate the way my legs look in everything I own. I wasted several hours searching for new shorts that would make my legs appear tan and toned. I bought and returned at least 10 pairs of shorts, only to realize the problem is with my body image, not my current wardrobe.||A body that is active and healthy. Legs that help me chase my kids, go for runs in the fresh air, and easily complete most daily tasks.||To release whatever unreachable goal I have set for myself, let go of perfectionism, and practice self-love.|
|Kids that listen the first time, get along well with each other, use indoor voices and walking feet when inside, speak with kindness, and take turns at the playground without my constant nagging.||Wouldn’t life be so much easier that way? The daily grind is so draining.||Two wonderful, healthy, happy, unique, independent children. A family that loves each other unconditionally.||To get real. To lower my expectations. To approach the never-ending job of parenting with joy, knowing it will pay off a great deal.|
|A house that is beautifully furnished with just the right amount of furniture and “stuff” for our family. If it could look like something from a magazine without any effort or big expense that would be great.||We moved back in November and we were working on furnishing our new home. This is the first time we have ever really bought any furniture, since in the past we have been fortunate enough to get hand-me-downs. It was time for us to choose things that reflected our lifestyle and our tastes.||A wonderful home that is comfortable and functional. A family is happy and settled into our new spot.||To practice gratitude and appreciation for the incredible gift of our home and our family. To remember that the comparison game does not serve me and only stirs discontentment.|
Of course, I understand they are first world problems. And that most of them just sound like whining. I guess it is my way of trying to control how I feel by placing the blame on a lack of a material item or a goal that is impossible to achieve. Anyone else go down this spiral of unrealistic expectations?
I came to the brutal realization that what I need overall is a change in my perspective, but I still have a very long way to go. I feel more at ease, however, knowing that my wants are my mind’s attempted consolation for what my heart and soul are trying to tell me.
So here’s the bottom line: there is not one thing I can buy to make me feel better. There is not one item on my list of wants I can achieve that will ease my soul if my perspective is off kilter.
I have settled comfortably back into the idea that what I already have is enough. Actually, it’s way more than enough. It’s simply abundant.
How do you cultivate contentment in your life?