Doesn’t life get tiring when we always compare ourselves to others? That’s what they say — ‘The grass is always greener on the other side’.
Speaking for the Millenials, we grew up at the time and age where early fame and success are celebrated and exposed to our consumption within a tap away.
When our reference points are influencers and celebrities, we can be easily influenced to think that other people’s life is better and we don’t have or experience enough. It takes a degree of scrutiny and objectivity to filter the glamour portrayed by others.
For some, it breeds superficiality. For others, it may be anxiety. Maybe, it gives inspiration and the drive to grow. But what these different people have in common is the feeling of discontentment, we just never have enough.
This feeling might also stem from looking at how we have been measuring our happiness.
“I will only be happy when ...”
Does this sound familiar to you?
For me, this has subconsciously been my life for the past decade. I used to imagine being happy once I achieve whatever project or goal I set my mind to. I also thought I will be happy once I buy or acquire a new piece of clothing. Or going to that one holiday destination I’ve been thinking of going for the past year.
The problem with being so externally-dependent on our happiness and motivation has its clear downside. It’s a never-ending rat race.
Some may even think when we’ve achieved the lifestyle and accomplishments that we dreamed of, we will finally be at ease. But how often do we carelessly race to the next big thing, once we’ve achieved it?
Is there a reverse to this unhealthy view of ambition?
On cultivating a life of contentment
I have been trying to cultivate this affirmation as my daily intention-setting I say to myself in
“I am in a really good place in my life right now. I am enough and I have enough”
It allows me to experience a deeper level of ease with myself by being grateful for the small things in life and for other people’s good intentions.
In a way, it encouraged me to feel a prolonged sense of contentment.
Contentment is a feeling of ease, satisfaction, or happiness from accepting our present reality and appreciating what we have and where we are in life.
Being content feels weightless, compared to the heavy baggage we used to carry around in our minds. It’s such a peaceful state, that you can’t help to smile when you think of all the blessings in your life.
Does being content mean I shouldn’t improve?
Contentment shouldn’t be confused with being complacent — not having the desire to improve. If anything, being content is a better fuel for improving one's self.
When we have the sense of being enough, the reason for our improvement is to serve something bigger than ourselves. When it’s least self-serving, we would feel more engaged and find more meaning to it.
Being contented really gives the mind a lot of clarity. Clear of our priorities, or what is truly meaningful, and how to act accordingly and not over-react. We get to think forward and see opportunities better.
What is the secret to being more content?
Being grateful, of the little things.
The ‘little things’ like being able to have a calm morning, a random act of kindness from strangers, the presence of a loved one, the support from a friend are the things that apparently makes me happier than getting my dream job or passing an exam I’ve worked very hard for.
These ‘little things’ would have a higher probability of happening in our daily lives compared to the usual ‘big things’ we celebrate.
I couldn’t stress this enough, but counting your blessings is such a great habit to have. Finding time and space in your day to look back at the last 24 hours, and noting down the things you appreciate.
I would also add what these blessings made me feel — connected, appreciated, heard, seen, etc.
The shift of perspective from being relatively ungrateful and pessimistic to looking at your life objectively and positively will encourage more contentment.
Being accepting, of your challenges. Maybe with a little sense of humor.
Well first, smile. It’s literally hard not to be happy when you curve up the side of your lips.
And on a more serious note, life will always be full of problems and challenges. When we solve a problem, we trade with new problems, hopefully, better ones. Where we can learn and grow from it.
But complaining and thinking your life is miserable because of your current challenges will feed to the sense of discontent.
I’ve recently learned that laughing at my problems makes it easier to solve them. It doesn’t mean that I take it unseriously, but I just learned that life is too short to be debilitated by unnecessary stress. A spice of sense of humor helps me to accept my challenges and work through it in a more calm manner.
Being mindful, of your present situation.
Practicing being in the now goes a long way in supporting the first two suggestions of being
I find any kind of meditation, specifically, mindfulness meditation eases the switch to stay grounded in the present moment.
Photo by Nathan Guzman on Unsplash
A short mindfulness meditation to cultivate contentment:
Since you are going to read, let’s do a quick breathing technique called Nadi Shodhana (the link has a useful comprehensive guide from Banyan Botanicals for your future reference.)
Sit comfortably, but adjust your posture so you can sit upright with your spine long and tall
Beginning with a few deep breaths. Inhale for 4 seconds, pause for 1 second. Exhale for 5 seconds, pause for 1 second. Do this a few times until you feel calm.
Inhale and smile.
Use your right thumb and close your right nostril. Exhale calmly and inhale.
Use your right pinky and ring finger and close your left nostrils. Exhale longer than
Do this a few times
When you feel calmer, direct your thought to the things you are grateful for —
your family and friends, your living situation, your holiday, your pets. It can be the challenges you faced, what you learned from it, and how stronger you became when you came out of it.
Smile again and close your eyes :)
Hello again! I hope you came out of that short meditation feeling a bit more content and had a taste of what it’s like to continue to be present, be accepting, and be grateful.
May this holiday season give you even more reasons and opportunities to be content and may you have a contented life.