There are lots of lists out there describing what people consider to be the most important things to do in life. And these lists have lovely sentiments. Find love. Appreciate your family. Do something you are passionate about. I don’t disagree with any of that advice. Those are important things. But all those lists avoid […]
Many people have the mistaken belief that their lives are bad because they aren’t happy all the time. Allow me to let you in on a little secret. No one is happy all the time. That is an unrealistic pursuit. Instead, what we should be striving for in life is contentment.
Happiness is a feeling, akin to joy. It is something you might feel when falling in love for the first time. Or, you might feel happy when you accomplish a big goal, like completing a marathon. But those feelings of happiness and joy are not normal. They are special.
What you should be striving to feel most of the time is contentment. That is a sustainable feeling. When we are content, we are comfortable with ourselves and with our lives. We feel good about our situation in life and our relationships with other people.
Unfortunately, many people chase happiness. They want their lives to be full of special moments, 24/7. That isn’t realistic. It is a futile pursuit.
You know the people who are chasing happiness. They are the people who regularly relocate because they want to experience over and over again the excitement of living in a new place and meeting new people. Folks like that spend their weekends and holidays traveling to exotic places or doing high octane sports activities to get a rush. They go through one romantic relationship after another in order to have that feeling of falling in love – again and again.
And they miserable. They are chasing the wrong thing. Special moments of happiness are meant to be just that – special. Your entire life is not going to be one beautiful, Hallmark moment after another. If you expect that out of life, you will be sorely disappointed.
Below are ways to stop chasing happiness and instead create a life of contentment. Apply these approaches in your own life, and see how much better you feel.
To Create Contentment, Make Peaceful Relationships A Priority
When we are younger, we immaturely think that our relationships are supposed to be exciting. Our friendships are going to be like on the television show “Friends.” Romantic partners are going to be attractive, funny and adoring – all the time. Effectively, we think that life is going to be like the movies.
But even movies only last two hours.
As we mature, we realize that no relationship is perfect. No one person is going to fulfill all our needs. And our relationships aren’t going to be nonstop excitement and fun. Instead, to live a life of contentment, we don’t seek excitement from our relationships, but rather, peace.
Recently, one of my friends wisely said to me, “I am just seeking peace in my life.” He has learned through life experience that real relationships aren’t like the ones we see on television. Rather, they are far more complicated. So, his priority is simply to have peaceful relationships with everyone. I couldn’t agree more.
If you want to have a life of contentment, strive to have peaceful relationships with others. Make peace a priority.
How do we do that? Well, we stop arguing with other people. For example, I will not discuss politics or religion with anyone but my daughter and my husband. The three of us can discuss those issues without arguing or allowing matters to get heated. But I don’t discuss those topics with anyone else.
Other folks can think what they want, and if they don’t see the world my way, that is OK! My top priority is to have peaceful relationships with other people, and that means that I don’t discuss hot button issues with anyone but my immediate family.
I also choose to let a lot of minor offenses go. We all easily could go through the day feeling offended. People either intentionally or unintentionally do and say inconsiderate things all the time! If you spend your time being irritated by other people, you will not be at peace. You will be aggravated, which is the opposite of being content.
So, if you seek a life of contentment, develop a peaceful mindset. And make having peaceful relationships your top priority.
Be Grateful for What You Have Today
I will concede that it is nearly impossible to be content in the midst of serious life problems. Being content while suffering from a serious illness, violence or poverty is nearly impossible. Those are experiences that we simply get through.
But most people struggle with being content, even when their lives are just fine. There is nothing discernably wrong, and yet they are discontent.
The challenge for many people is that they are ungrateful. They have food, clothing and shelter. Their relationships are decent, and they have good jobs. Yet, they are disappointed with life. They had an idea that life would be more fabulous than it turned out to be. And now they feel sad that life didn’t meet their expectations.
Unfortunately, there is only one solution for that kind of discontent. Grow up. Be grateful for what you have! Realize that if you have the basic necessities of life, you are far ahead of millions of people in this world who don’t have things like food. Understand that there are so many people who would love to have even your worst day.
Being grateful for what you have today, doesn’t mean that we don’t keep trying to improve ourselves and our lives. But to live a life of contentment, you need to be OK with what you have now. Even if you have hopes and dreams for tomorrow, you need to appreciate all the things you have today.
Expecting to be blissfully happy on a nonstop basis in life is a recipe for disappointment. Instead, create a life of contentment. Learn to be comfortable with your life. Make peaceful relationships a priority. And grateful for what you have today. (To read more about creating a life of contentment, click here.)
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