How to be Content
Being happy with what you have can be a struggle, especially in a society where riches and fame are hailed as the secret to happiness. The advertising industry works to make us unhappy with what we have, deceiving us into thinking that we have to have their latest product or brand name in order to be happy. However, it is possible to be content, or satisfied, with what you have. You don't have to dream about having more and more. Following are some ideas to help you learn contentment in the circumstance that you are in and with what you have.
One way of coming to contentment is to take inventory of where you are and what you have. Look at the people in your life, such as friends and family. Realize that these people are a gift from God, and that they add value to your life. Without them you would be lacking. Also, look at what you have. Things could be worse. There are many people that have nothing. They have no family, friends, or even a roof over their head. Many people are in very poor health. By taking inventory of your life you will gain an appreciation of life.
See the needs around you
There are many needy people in this world. They truly have nothing. Pay attention to the suffering you see in the world. Instead of sitting idly by, I encourage you to get involved in the lives of those who are suffering. It will change your perspective of your own life. Those who go to other countries come back saying that they had no idea of how bad it was for some people. It causes them to step back and realize that they don't need as much as they thought they did.
840 million people in the world are malnourished1
6 million children under the age of five die each year as a result of hunger1
Half the world's population lives on less than $2 a day2
1.1 billion people have inadequate access to water3
1 billion people are without electricity4
2 2007 Human Development Report
3 2006 Human Development Report
42007 Millennium Development Goals Report
Realize how good you have it
Many people in the world live in extreme poverty. They live on next to nothing. Many are homeless, hungry, extremely ill, and hopeless. By considering your living situation in light of how many around the world have to live will give you a deeper appreciate of who you are and what you have. Too, it will cause you to realize what is really important. We really don't have to have all the stuff we have. The basic necessities to keep breathing oxygen is really all we need. The relationships in our lives are necessary, and little else is.
It is so easy to complain. Being negative is the easy route to take. However, being thankful gives us a better perspective on life. As you develop an attitude of thankfulness for where you are in life and for what you have, you will find that you don't need all the stuff you thought you had to have. Thankfulness and contentment go hand in hand. The steps listed above for coming to contentment lead to thankfulness. As you see the needs around you and see what others have to endure causes you to be thankful, and keeps you from complaining so much. God truly gives us good things, but we overlook them due to not being satisfied. We tend to always want more. As we live a life of wanting more and more, thinking that will bring us happiness, we actually end up frustrated, stressed out, and unhappy. True happiness comes from being thankful in the here and now. As you become content with where you are and what you already have, you find freedom, joy, and relaxation. Stress is gone when you don't have to drive yourself to achieve. Anger is gone when you are thankful, instead of coming up short of a false goal.
Dissatisfaction can come from a wrong focus on the future. Always needing to achieve more causes you to always look to the future for what is out there that you haven't attained yet. It can also come from a wrong focus on the present for what you don't have. However, if you want to be happy you will need to enjoy today. Instead of dwelling on what you do not have today, focus on the good things today has brought. Too, instead of dwelling on the future and what has to be achieved, focus on where you are and realize that today has opportunities to take advantage of. Today is a journey to be enjoyed. By being content with today, you will find peace. Look around you at the people in your life who love you and who you get the opportunity to love. Look at the good things that you have. Don't let a wrong focus on tomorrow rob you of today. Don't let a wrong focus on what you do not have today rob you of the joy of what you do have today. Contentment comes from enjoying the journey of today.