Minimalism hasn’t saved me from being discontent. There are still things I want in life. However, the things that I want have drastically changed.
There are very few possessions that I want anymore. In fact, there are still things that I own that I don’t even want to keep, yet I struggle what to do with them.
So why do I still struggle with being content?
It’s not mere things that I desire anymore…it’s the experiences, emotions, and memories that I want.
I guess you could say that I yearn for more time.
Resenting the Lost Years
Resentment eats at me sometimes. When I think of all the time and money we’ve thrown down the drain in the pursuit of stuff, it gets me so upset. I can’t think of a single thing I’ve ever owned that made me happier or made my life feel more full.
I really dislike the endless hours spent on jobs and tasks that take away from life instead of adding value to it. Careers that steal our joy. Money spent on so many things that we ended up throwing away. All those things seem so pointless.
Even something as simple as planning our summer family vacation made me resent the fact that we don’t get the travel as a family like I want us to.
I do believe that the desires I have for more family time and building memories are good things to want. However, I realized that being resentful and yearning for more in any area of life will sabotage any effort of finding contentment.
Lessons on Contentment
Even though I feel like I’ve triumphed over the quest for more stuff, I still have some growing to do in the area of contentment. I did some digging online and found learned some pretty important lessons about contentment:
Contentment is the balance between what you have and what you desire. Whenever your desires are greater than what you have, contentment will be out of reach.
Contentment is not just passive acceptance. I used to see contentment more like apathy. The feeling of “Eh, whatever…that’s fine.” True contentment is genuine happiness in your circumstances.
Contentment is a conscious choice. One thing is for sure, you won’t just wake up one morning and discover that contentment found you. It’s not like the tooth fairy leaving a coin under your pillow. You must make a decision to be content. It’s all about your attitude.
Contentment is freedom. Being content is like opening a locked door. When you let your desires become an obsession, you can miss out on your entire life. Being free of those wants opens up opportunities to enjoy parts of life that you previously ignored.
Contentment is not having all you want. True contentment is wanting only what you have.
Mental Pictures of Contentment
When I struggle to define what true contentment is and how to achieve it, my mind shifts to pictures of what contentment looks like. This is what I see when I picture true contentment:
- The happy chunky face of a freshly fed baby falling quickly asleep for a nap.
- Those cheesy pictures of kittens curled up next to a big wrinkly dog.
- Looking in your closet and knowing exactly what you want to wear that day.
- My three year old daughter endlessly twirling in circles in her favorite princess dress.
- A breezy springtime day spent swaying back and forth on a hammock by a stream.
- An elderly couple snuggling on their porch as they silently watching the sunset together.
What does contentment look like to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Other Suggested Reading:
The Unmistakable Freedom of Contentment and How to Achieve It – Becoming Minimalist
The Power of Contentment – Freeing Truth
Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for. – Epicurus
We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have. – Frederick Keonig
Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty. – Socrates
There is no end of craving. Hence contentment alone is the best way to happiness. Therefore, acquire contentment. – Swami Sivananda
Everyone chases after happiness, not noticing that happiness is right at their heels. – Bertolt Brecht
Article originally published on 06/06/2011