How To Be Content
For those of us who live in 1st world countries, there are all sorts of reasons why we should be successful and happy. However, for some reason, most of us are feeling more behind in life than ever. We live in a society where the people, instead of spending years toiling at their jobs for their retirement in 40 years, end up striking it rich at the age of 18 with a hit song. Now, you’re sitting on the couch, at age 25, feeling like a total loser. I mean, “How did he learn to get rich at that age and I didn’t?” You might be thinking about all the things you could have changed, and how your life would be so different if you did those things.
Don’t worry, man. We all go through it and considering the vast majority of society as a whole. You’re not alone. In fact, contrary to what the general media and social media portrays, people are not becoming rich overnight. Also, though our income as a nation is rising, our happiness (or lack thereof) has remained a constant for the last 50 years or so, according to Jeffery Sachs who is the head of the Earth studies department at Columbia University. Also, Investopedia estimates that your chances of striking it rich are similar to being struck by lightning, which is about 1 in 750,000. Take that, status anxiety!
Maybe status anxiety isn’t your root cause of life discontentment. You may be suffering from chronic illness, having relationship drama, or you could be dealing with tough issues with your family. We all have been in one of these sticky life situations that can be a total drag and make you feel like your life has stalled into a sad impending demise. Don’t worry, however. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. I have learned to be content, and I’m going to show you how you can teach yourself using the same methods. We will be doing this in a list type of style, so feel free to print it off and check off the ones that work best for you!
1. Take Inventory
Yes … Take inventory (of what you’ve got)! This simple step is totally free and one that allows me to kick my depressive moods to the curb on a daily basis. In fact, I use this one the minute I open my eyes every morning, during the day if things start to get a little challenging, and right before I got to sleep at night. The one addition for my nightly gratitude sessions is that I highlight all of the positive events of my day.
2. Guard Your Most Precious Resource: Your Mind. Focus On The Upside Of Things
Let’s go with an old proposition: You are in a hypothetical situation where you have to lose all of your body parts and have the choice to keep only one body part. What would you choose? If you are like most people, you will pick your brain. The reason is that the mind and how we perceive all of our life’s events is filtered through this vital organ; the key is knowing how to use your brain effectively to increase our contentment with our lives. Direct your attention to what is the more positive aspects of the event or your life, and your perspective will change.
This could be a controversial one, but I am human like most of us, and sometimes the negativity just builds up so much to where it has to go somewhere outside of the body instead of festering and poising your perspective and turning everything into a negative. One free way to do this is to grab a sheet of paper and pen and do a brain dump. The one thing that I would note, aside from Mel Robbin’s advice, would be to consider the option of dumping literally everything that flows into your brain as it comes, without regard for your handwriting or logical order because it doesn’t have to make sense to come out. After you’re done, do not reread what you wrote. Destroy the paper and move on. The goal is to get the negativity out of your body and into the physical world to physically discard.
4. Vent (Part 2): Talk It Out With A Professional
There may be some problems that may be too much for a friend to handle. I underwent therapy with a licensed professional. You would be surprised how much an unbiased, third party’s ear is, and the fact that they are trained to help you break down and help resolve the problem is a pure bonus.
This one works two-fold: It brings you face-to-face with what could be your fate and gives you the rewarding feeling of helping someone in need. This is another free one that should get those endorphins flowing1
6. Adopt A Pet
UCLA did a study that proves therapy animals promote the release of feel-good hormones of the brain and helps lower blood pressure, reducing anxiety in the owner of said therapy pet. This not-so-shocking finding is proof, however, that pets should not be disregarded as a means of boosting our life satisfaction.
7. Take Some Time Off
This one is not exactly free and can cost you precious time at work, but who needs a discontent employee poisoning the workspace with mental garbage? Take some time off work to do something you enjoy or just rest. Work will be there when you get there tomorrow.
8. Read. Read. Read.
One small caveat here: Read a (happy) fiction novel or a self help book, as they are the best categories that could help bring you back to a good level of contentment in your life. The “me” time helps to get you centered, while the storyline keeps you going and sucks you into it and out of your negative self-talk.
9. Hire A Career Coach
Maybe your discontentment comes from status anxiety. Not knowing what direction you want to take in life can get anyone down. A career coach is trained to look at things from your perspective, your current professional qualifications and offers advice to point you in the right direction on what career path to take.
10. Hire A Life Coach
This step also has a small substitute for going online and joining groups, as life coaches can be expensive. A life coach is trained to help you with personal problems and how they affect your life, and although they help to develop an action plan for your hard life’s situations, they are not medical doctors, so if you are going this route, choose wisely.
11. Look To Your Children (If You Have Children)
This is a significant step in putting my life on a path to contentment. I continually stand in wonder about how my partner and I could produce someone so beautiful and amazing. Also, children’s attitude should inspire you because they worry only about the things that matter, like love and care and that is what really counts at the end of the day.
12. Travel: Plan A Vacation – Even If It’s A Small One
CNN writer, Winnie So writes, “Travel makes us happy, because it offers us the opportunity to step outside our well-worn, self-constructed, plebian realities and provides a platform to explore and practice our ideal visions for ourselves — who we might be if we weren’t married to our fears and anxieties about safety, security, and status.” You would be surprised at how cheap a small vacation can really be if you add up the money you spend on shoes and eating out. Travel helps you to step out of your daily routine and discover different aspects of yourself (and your partner), which has worked wonders for my relationship.
13. Start Your Day On The Right Foot – Have A Morning Routine
This little step is often overlooked by the vast majority of the population and is regarded as essential by some of the most successful people of our society. We all are familiar with the “stubbing the toe out of bed” phenomenon. Get a jump start on it by implementing a morning routine that makes you feel accomplished before you leave home.
14. Don’t Forget To Exercise Daily!
Taking a note from advice #13, I have implemented this staple as a part of my morning routine to shake of morning sluggishness and get those endorphins flowing and the accomplishment of smashing your morning goal should boost the contentment of your day, which may bleed over into other areas of your life.
15. Get Your Finances In Order
This could be as simple as hiring an accountant or taking inventory of what your spending habits are and developing some financial goals to work on. Most peoples’ discontentment with their life centers on finances. I was one of those people and paying more attention to caring for this aspect of my life has increased my contentment dramatically.
16. Gather Together With Friends
Most of us get so wound up with family and work life that we abandon our own social circles, in place of more tasks that we have to suffer through. Find some time to hang out and catch up with your friends, as they will be there to support you while you may be having a hard time finding your own contentment in life. Also having them around should be a visual reminder that they are always there when you need them and reminding you of how important you are.
17. (Keep) Scouring The Internet
We are the smartest generation of the population yet because we share information from all over the world. Why not put that work to use by researching (more) articles that could help you with feeling more content. There are literally thousands of resources you can use to be able to find a little shot of contentment. Social media, forums, apps, and other small meet groups in your area that may be of some assistance.
18. Contribute Your Talent To The World
Doubling back to reference Jefferey Sachs, the largest sector of happy individuals (in America) are those who are concerned with others and providing a service to them. What talent or idea have you not shared with the world yet? Do your research and get to it! You will feel so much more content when you produce something in physical form from your mind that helps others.
19. Join A Good Cause
Contentment goes hand-in-hand with purpose. Join a local charity group that has a cause you believe in, and ask about how you could get involved. This will work wonders for your purpose and mission in life and will automatically give you a sense of contentment.
20. Focus On Being Of Service
The vast majority of our lives are spent worrying about ourselves, and this is a very selfish way of living. It is referenced in Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” as he states, “A man’s toothache is more important to him than a famine in China.” (or something to that effect). When you turn your attention outward and worry about being of service to the lady crossing the street, mentoring a child or teaching classes at your local shelter, you won’t have time to deal with your feeling of discontentment and will actually be doing something about it at the same time.
There are many other items that I could list, but then this blog post would be a book. The majority of my personal strategy is listed here, including the one about hiring a therapist. (Hey- – sometimes, we need to know when the problem requires a professional helping hand and it’s one of the best decisions I have made for my journey of contentment.) If you have any other suggestions, please share them down in the comments. Remember: You want to be of service to others. Also, if you have an interesting short story of your own journey, please share. You never know who you may inspire!