We all know that contentment is a state of pure happiness and satisfaction and all of us chase after it. Desiring a state of contentment is fundamental to mankind after all. But what if I tell you that our approach to achieving that state - the way we chase after it may also be the reason why we almost never find ourselves in our desired state of happiness? What if I told you that we tend to look too far ahead in the future and often attach our feeling of contentment to material goals in a manner where you feel you can’t find happiness without achieving a certain goal or acquiring something that will promote contentment.
Our idea of having to do something in order to be happy and satisfied is often the reason we find ourselves feeling more stressed and dreadful. If we aren't careful in that pursuit, we could lead ourselves to burn out and before we know it or recognize it, we start to indulge in habits that are detrimental to our own mental health. We may develop tunnel vision where we feel like we can never be happy without something. Not being able to achieve it may leave us feeling like a failure. We may either give ourselves negative mental talks or project negatively on the people around us. The culmination of it all would lead us on a path that is further and further away from the state of contentment that we direly desire.
How Do We Measure Contentment If They Aren’t Attached To Goals?
Goals are definitely important to us but they aren't a measure of contentment. They are a measure of progress. It is imperative to have life goals so you know what you wish to look forward to, what you wish to work towards and what you wish for yourself. It helps you keep track of the vision you have for yourself.
There is also no denying the joy and satisfaction you feel when you achieve something on your path, tick something off your bucket list and make considerable progress towards your goals. But this becomes problematic if we assume that this is the only way to find contentment.
“ Contentment is a state of the heart, unaffected by outward circumstance” - Crystal Paine
So How Do We Find Contentment?
There is no one-size-fits-all roadmap or instruction manual to tell you how or where to find contentment. However, you are free to build a roadmap to your own state of contentment. You get to create a personalized map for yourself after much thought, care and consideration. Your path to contentment is unique to you and is a defining element of your personality. With every step that you take towards chalking out your own path, you are bound to feel a sense of liberation, purpose and determination.
Making Your Own Map: Questions To Ask Yourself and Tips
In order to build your map, sit down with yourself and introspect. Journal it if you can (preferably). Ask yourself questions and review yourself. Please also remember to be nurturing towards yourself. Remind yourself that you are doing something for yourself from a place of love and with a desire to do better. Indulge in positive self-talk that will set your tone and intention. Practicing mindfulness is key to finding contentment. While the ways to practice mindfulness can look different for everyone, the purpose remains the same. The purpose remains to be aware of you’re “HERE AND NOW”.
What do I have with me right now, that brings me joy?
Who are the people around me that make me happy?
What is the one thing or top three things about myself that I am proud of?
To truly feel content, you have to bring your attention to yourself. Notice your breathing, notice your body and how it changes ever so subtly or all at once as a response to how you are feeling. Validate yourself, your emotions and your feelings. Bring your awareness to your “now”.
We often drown ourselves in the past and relentlessly work towards achieving a better future and we simply forget to NOTICE our present. As easy as it sounds, it does take herculean mental effort to practice mindfulness at first. However if you keep at it, mindfulness becomes a lifestyle.
It is important to remember that you don’t have to go through that journey on your own and that it is definitely helpful to have an accountability partner or someone you trust to keep you on track.