Is It Contentment That I Seek?

I have been asking myself lately, “What is it in life that I want? Do I seek happiness? Joy? What is it that I want?” Both Happiness and Joy and wonderful things, but they did not seem to be enough or realistic on an ongoing basis. Then the word contentment came to mind. Finding contentment in my life, as much as I can, sounds really nice.

I don’t quote the Bible very often in my blog posts, even though I am a believer in Jesus Christ and rely on the Bible as my source of direction in life. In Philippians 4:11, Paul says he has “learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Wow, I am far from that, but I would love to get to the point where I felt that way. As I was thinking about the concept of contentment, I took some time to think about what brings me contentment in life. When do I feel at peace? I found this to be an interesting exercise that might be worth giving a try. Here are a few things that I wrote down:

  • I feel content when I am strong (physically, mentally, emotionally & spiritually)
  • I feel content when I am doing things for other people
  • I am content in the quiet
  • I am content living and working at a moderate, steady pace
  • I am content in the warmth
  • I am content in the presence of a positive, can do attitude
  • I am content in a clean, simple and organized environment
  • I am content when I am living the life God wants me to live

It would be great for each of us to live in this perfect world of contentment, but reality can be loud, fast paced, disorganized, negative and cold, right? I am not yet sure how to find contentment when life does not go my way, but this exercise of identifying what makes me content helped me out in one big way.

It made me realize that I want to fill my life with as much “contentment” as possible. There are a lot of things that are out of my control, but there are a lot that is within my control too. As I finished up the above list, I reflected on my life, on my list of “things I want to do” and compared them to the things that bring me contentment. Most of the things that I want to do in my life fit well with the things that bring me contentment, but there were a few that did not fit real well. I suddenly realized that I could use my “contentment list” as a tool to help me determine my future pursuits. I do have some control over bringing contentment into my life, and so do you.

Now, for those times when life is loud, fast paced, disorganized and cold, I am going to have to find a way to find contentment and peace in the middle of it. I am not real sure how to do that yet, but I have a lifetime to figure that one out. In the meantime, I would love for you to join me in creating a list of things that bring you contentment. Use that list to intentionally bring more contentment into your life. Life is one big experiment, right?

I would love to hear from you and your thoughts on finding contentment. Thank you to each of you who have commented or sent me an email in past weeks. You are all an inspiration to me! Keep the thoughts coming, and I am sure to incorporate them into future posts.

Here’s to adding more contentment into our lives in order to live our BEST!

As Good As One, Two, Three!

Be kind to yourself. Be true to yourself. Chart a course for yourself.

These three things are so important!

First, be kind to yourself! You and I can be our own worst critic. We know when we have fallen short. We do not need anyone else to beat us up about a mistake, because we are usually well on top of kicking ourselves when we are down. I am learning though, and I hope, you are learning along with me, that we are never going to be perfect. In order to live the best life that we can, we need to learn to be kind to ourselves. Just like learning any new things, we have to start, keep trying and over time and with practice, we will get better and better at being kind to ourselves. We all extend kindness to others each day, let’s keep a portion of that kindness for ourselves, too. Let’s also remember to treat ourselves every once in a while. It could be grabbing a yummy coffee, scheduling a spa day, or maybe spending some time with a friend. Whatever makes you happy, let’s make sure we get those things added into our schedule.  

Second, be true to yourself. This is one that I have been working through quite a bit lately. It is human nature to try to impress our desires onto someone else. Our desires are so much a part of who we are, it seems natural that others should feel the same way. For example, I have the desire to look at everything with rose-colored glasses. Because this is so important to me, I shared with my husband, John, that he should look at life the exact same way. He was kind and listened to me, but a few days later he explained that he does not see things the same way. It was a good reminder for me to allow John to be true to who he is, and it also reminded me to continue to be true to who I am. The same goes for our dreams for the future. It’s important for each of us to have our own dreams for the future. It is true, when we have a significant other in our lives, that we share our dreams with each other, but I am coming to see that John and I need to have our own individual dreams too. I have dreams of getting on my bike for multiple day trips to see the countryside. John has a dream of having an RV and seeing our country that way. I think we can make those dream mesh together, they are simply going to look a little different for each of us. It can be easy at times to just go along with someone else’s dreams, but I encourage you to have dreams of your own, and be true to them.

Third, chart a course for yourself. You have probably figured out by now that I am a planner. Chances are, if you have continued to read my blog for this long, you are too. The only way to get where we want to go is to decide where we want to go, figure out how we should start moving forward, and start take steps towards our goal. There are times that numbers need to be crunched to make sure we reach a goal. There are times where we have to learn new things to move forward, but regardless of what it is, I believe we need to chart a course for ourselves. John and I were out on a walk this morning talking about our future, and we both acknowledged that there are so many variables that make planning for our future a challenge. We have an end goal in mind, we know the things we already have in place, the things we need to work on, and we keep moving forward. But I also need to set my own individual course as well. Sure, John and I have shared goals, but I need to make sure that I am setting the right course for myself too. I want John to do the same for himself as well. Having a goal and moving forward on a plan gives us something great to work towards and hope for the a great future.

I don’t think you can go wrong if you are kind to yourself, true to yourself and chart a course for yourself. Enjoy your week ahead and live your BEST every single day!

You Mean There Is No Finish Line?

Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. wrote in her book Mindset, “once a problem improves, people often stop doing what caused it to improve.Once you feel better, you stop taking your medicine.” She continues, “But change doesn’t work that way. When you’ve lost weight, the issue doesn’t go away.” “These changes have to be supported or they can go away faster than they appeared.”I AM DOING EXACTLY WHAT DR. DWECK DESCRIBED!!!…and I have done it so many times before. Wow this one is challenging!

My real life example right now is exercise. As many of you know, I have been training hard for the past year. It was challenging, but, it felt so good to be strong and vibrant. In my mind, I was determined to keep up that same level of exercise after I crossed the finish line at a recent event, but the past two weeks have not played out that way at all.

After achieving a goal, I have faced a big challenge and I wonder if you have dealt with this as well?

It has been my desire to stay “fit” after I cross the finish line, but I also want to move forward on other plans as well. Suddenly though, I realize I do not have the time or energy for both, so the fitness level I had just reached has started to slip. Another example is losing weight. Losing weight is tough stuff, but as the pounds come off, we feel better and better. Losing weight requires a tremendous amount of energy and focus. It is easy once we reach our goal to think we can move on to other things and not give our eating the same amount of attention. Unfortunately, when it does not get our focus, the scale starts creeping back up again. Yes, I think we can get into some level of “maintenance mode” with our goals, but I am having to face the fact that they will still require a lot of my energy.

This makes me sad, I’m not going to lie. Because I have a lot of things I want to accomplish and I want them all to happen NOW! But reality reminds me that I only have so much time in a day, and I only have so much energy I can put forth. Therefore, I am grappling with a truth that I do not like. If I want to put forth time and energy to stay healthy, and reach other goals in life:

  • First I have to choose which areas are most important.
  • Second, I have to limit the number of them that I pursue at one time.

It’s giving the most of my energy to a few big, important things, instead of spreading myself out trying to do a lot of little things. I still plan on accomplishing my goals, but it might just take a little bit longer to accomplish all of them. I guess it’s the bucket list concept.

Wow, the paring back continues. In the past I have talked about removing non-essentials, but I never imagined I would need to cut back this much. I will have to be honest with you, this process of paring back also brings me hope, hope that I can accomplish some things that are big and important to me. Trying to move forward on so many things at once in the past has drained some of the hope out of me. I do have a lot of great things to look forward to in life, they will simply take time and focus.

Please share with me your thoughts on this cutting back stuff. Feel free to comment below or send me an email. It is not easy stuff, and I am still trying to figure it out too. I would love to hear your thoughts, even if you do not agree. There is so much I can learn from each of you!

Here’s to a great week ahead trying to figure out this BEST life stuff!

I feel like I’m letting everyone down.

It is a horrible feeling to feel as though we have let others down in our lives. Is there a solution? Is there a way to live our BEST life and manage to be everything to everyone? I think we all know the answer to that, but it is not easy when you are in the middle of it.

As I was driving home for lunch one day this week, I was listening to a friend’s message sharing a story of a woman in her life who was feeling overwhelmed and brought to tears this past week. When my friend talked to her, she simply said “I feel like I am letting everyone down.”  As I continued to drive home, my heart broke for this woman, but, also exposed in me a very similar feeling. I too felt like I was letting a number of people down this week, and it was a horrible feeling.

I would love to come to you with an amazing solution to this problem, but I do not know of one. In fact, I was laying in bed last night coming to the realization that there was nothing more I could do this week. I did what I felt like I could do and sometimes that is simply going to fall short of the expectations of others. I forced myself to acknowledge what I did accomplish and find a way to be okay with falling short in other areas. It was hard to accept, but, once I did, I was able to relax and give myself a break. I felt my shoulders relax, not even realizing how tense I had been. I realized the longer I felt the guilt and pressure of letting others down, the more depleted I felt. I realized the more I focused on letting others down, the bigger that feeling grew in my mind and the worse I felt.

I certainly don’t want to make light of letting others down because many times it is our own choices and over-commitments that get us into those situations in the first place. It is not something I want to do often, because it does hurt others as well as me. I did find, though, that it is not healthy to ruminate on it either. I tried to learn from the experience so that I do not do it again. I got a good night’s rest and tried to treat the new day as a fresh start.

I know I am not going to be perfect, but I am going to try to put the past in the past, and try to live my best and give my best each day.

Here’s to being kind to ourselves! We are amazing individuals giving life our all. Let’s keep our heads up, give today our best, accept the fact that we won’t be perfect, and know that tomorrow is a new day with new opportunities.