I’m definitely a goal-oriented person — I always have my eye on a goal, whether that’s ,waking early, losing weight,writing articles, or one of a dozen other goals I’ve had (and usually achieved) in the last couple of years. And once I’ve achieved a goal, I begin looking for another: now that I finished my second article , I’m already looking for a third. So isn’t that a contradiction? Doesn’t that seem to indicate that I’m not content with my life? Not at all. I’m extremely content with my life, with what I have, and with who I am. I have accepted that I am the type of person who will always be striving for a goal, the type of person who enjoys a challenge, and who enjoys the journey. It’s not the goal that matters to me — it’s the journey to get there that is so fun. And I’m content with being that type of person. So contentment isn’t a matter with being content with your situation in life and never trying to improve it. It’s a matter of being content with what you have — but realizing that as humans, we will always try to improve, no matter how happy we are. If we don’t, we have given up on life. Today I’d like to discuss contentment, and the amazing things it can do in all aspects of our lives. My Life I’m going to use my life as an example here, only because I’m more intimately familiar with it than any other life. Looking back, I wasn’t always content. There have been times in my life when I wasn’t happy, when things seemed difficult, when I wish I had more. I wasn’t content with the way things were, and now I know that my outlook on life was a major contributor to my unhappiness. We choose whether we are happy or unhappy. Read that sentence again if it’s not already something you consciously practice in your daily life. If you’re unhappy with your life right now, I will venture to guess that it’s because you’ve chosen to be unhappy. That sounds harsh, but in my experience it’s completely true. I cannot speak to whether this concept of happiness applies to everyone — especially clinically depressed or those with similar disorders, people who are starving or homeless, people who have undergone massive tragedies or abuse, or others in such circumstances. However, for most readers, I believe the principles will apply. You might say, “But my life is crap! Of course I’m going to be unhappy!” And I hear you: I’ve had those times when my job wasn’t going well, when my relationships weren’t going well, when my finances were very bad, when I was overweight, when my life was a mess. But listen to this: I’ve had those conditions at several points in my life. And sometimes, I was unhappy in those kinds of conditions. And others, I was happy and content. So I’ve come to the conclusion — and it’s proven true time and again — that it’s not the conditions that make me unhappy, but my choice of thoughts, of attitude, of behavior. What behaviors and thoughts and attitudes were different between my times of unhappiness and happiness? When I was unhappy, I focused on all the bad things in my life. Not only that, but I continually thought about how bad they were, and would complain, and would ask, “Why me?” I would let myself sink into inaction and eventually depression. I would be grumpy and cause those around me to be unhappy. That, in turn, only made the situation worse. It certainly didn’t help my job. Let’s look at the times of happiness, in contrast: I focused instead on the good things in my life. Because while I had problems at my job and with my relationships and with my finances and health and all that … there were still good things. At least I had a job! At least I had someone who loved me! At least I wasn’t sick! At least I wasn’t bankrupt and homeless! I counted, instead, my blessings. I do this when things aren’t looking so good, and it turns me around. I had the power to change my job. To simplify my life. To get out of debt. I had my health, even if I was overweight. I lived on a beautiful island with gorgeous beaches and wildlife and greenery. I had family around me who loved me. I had the power of my words, and my books that I loved reading. I had life! And this outlook on life helped me to be happier. It improved everything around me, in short — and we’ll take a closer look at those things next. I was happy, despite my conditions, because I chose to be happy. I found contentment in what I already had, instead of wishing I had something else, instead of being discontented with what I had.
Contentment not only made me happy, but it transformed my life in many ways.