It’s no small thing to be content. To stop pursuing happiness in order to recognize, just for a moment, that you are already happy.
Everyone’s life is made up of seasons. Some are sweet, and others are agony. One month can feel like a year, slogging through shoulder-high mud, and the next can fly by in a blur of ordinary days. And yet some seasons are special in undefined ways, where we are lucky enough to see that it’s all going to plan and we laugh quite a bit and our days and nights are mostly smooth sailing.
I feel like we’re in one of those sweet seasons right now. We are out of the demanding little-kid stage and the teenaged years have not brought the promised wreckage others predicted in doomsday tones. We enjoy spending time with our kids and I love seeing the daily fruit of our number one parenting motto: Don’t Be An Asshole.
To me, contentment means not longing for something other than what you have. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point, with practices like daily meditation to help me stay anchored in the present moment along with careful boundaries in my relationships making a big difference to my calm state of being.
Some of this is just a decision. My pursuit of happiness was never-ending and exhausting, so I decided to simply be happy instead. To want less instead of having more. To go simpler when the rest of the world is complex. To create beauty inside of myself and cultivate it so that it blooms. To need less from other people and ask for more from myself.
It’s really damn good. We are capable of so much more than we think. When we push past fear, a whole new existence is on the other side. For a lifelong people-pleaser, to truly not care what others think of me or my parenting or my friendship choices or my work or my weight or my fashion is unbelievably liberating. It’s a kind of freedom I couldn’t have conceived of a decade ago. And now I’m living it and not interested in asking for anyone’s permission or approval.
When we can live as ourselves in a world that works hard to get us to be something inauthentic, we have traveled a great distance toward contentment. Anything that takes you further from your intuitive self and invites negative energy into your safe space can be abandoned. I’m learning not to put myself in so many uncomfortable situations. Life is precious and important and sacred. I make my decisions with that in mind now.
Trying to make other people happy is a dead-end road. It’s not a good goal. Figure out what you need, first and foremost, and design your life around that. The people you love most will benefit indirectly from your contentment and healthy choices. Simplify wherever possible. Your time and energy is valuable. Don’t spend it on people who give nothing back to you but stress and frustration. You simply do not have to live that way. All you need is the word “no” and you’ll be free.
Contentment is a worthy goal. Invest in whatever gets you closer. If you are moving further away, look at your decisions and see where you went wrong. And it’s okay if not everyone is happy with you, as long as you are happy yourself.