“Until you make peace with who you are you will never be content with what you have.” (Doris Mortman)
Contentment is the key to happiness in my mind. For me, happiness comes when what I have, where I am, who I am with, and who I am all come together in harmony. When all of that comes together, I am content and happy. When they are disjoint or out of kilter with one another, then yearning takes over and contentment disappears.
It is easy for me to be content with things. I am not one to wish for new clothes, nicer furniture, a better camper and the like. Sure, I do enjoy buying or receiving new things, but that joy tends to be long-lived with me. I would rather wring out another year on something than pursue something new. So, my camera has taken over 50,000 pictures, my camper is 13 years old, and some of my clothes are older still. The pursuit of possessions really does not get in the way of my contentment.
Although I may crab about the weather, or the local economy, the truth is that I am happy with where I live. The climate here has seasonal change which makes me appreciate warm summer days so much more. The house I live in meets my needs, and those of my family. My neighborhood is stable, and generally a fun place to live. Where I am does not get in the way of my contentment.
I have a fantastic wife. She truly does complete who I am, keeps me stable and grounded, and helps me soar. My children are a true blessing. They are kindhearted, warm, smart individuals who inspire me to be a better person. My extended family is always supportive and keeps me mindful of my roots. And, I am surrounded by a network of amazing friends who care about and love me no matter what is happening in my life. Who I am with does not get in the way of my contentment.
So, that just leaves me. When I find myself feeling less than happy, when I feel the pangs of discontent in my life, it isn’t about my things, my place or the people around me. It is me that has become out of sorts. I truly believe that happiness is about appreciation. It is about appreciating my surroundings and loving my life, but it starts with me loving who I am. When I have been most unhappy in my life, it was because I needed to work on me. I may have tried pursuing the happiness through possessions, or by trying to be somewhere else. I may even have sought out my friends, or even reached out to new friends. But, at my core it has always been me that was at issue.
These days I find myself to be mostly content and happy in my life. Sure, I have troubles and I have things I wish were different. I would love not to lose sleep on Sunday nights worrying about work, for instance. But even there I know that the things I worry on are inside me. It is about getting myself right with the world that will bring back deep Sunday night sleep.
Today I am going to be more mindful of those parts of my life where I am less content. I am going to focus on them and determine whether that lack of contentment is with myself, or something else. My guess is that I will find it is with myself, and that is where the work is needed.