One of the comments that came through about last week’s post was from Jennifer who said “In my view part of the solution lies in ‘contentment’ with where one is at in life and not forever hunkering after more…. No wonder the Bible says “contentment with godliness is great gain”.
I thought this was a good observation and so this week I weigh in on how contentment can enable you enjoy balance in life.
Experts on living the zen lifestyle often recommend that we practice being content. Thinking about contentment brings two words to my mind happiness and satisfaction. Like happiness, contentment requires being intentional. I shared how I am deliberately choosing to be happy.
The apostle Paul wrote “I have learned in whatever circumstances I am in to be content.” This means we need to consciously make the decision because like any other habit, being content is learnt. Like most people, I struggle with maintaining an attitude of contentment all the time. However, below I share some habits I am cultivating which can help you on this journey to contentment.
1. Staying in the Present Moment.
Yesterday and all its joys or burdens is gone. Tomorrow is promised but what you have before you is now. It is important not to dwell so much on the what should have been and focus instead on what is. This allows you to enjoy balance as you are able to focus on the blessings before you.
Focusing on the joy I enjoyed doing a corporate job had me question what exactly brought me fulfillment. Was it the work I did or the titles I held at the time? I discovered my fulfillment came mostly from using my skills, abilities and expertise to help people solve their problems. I do not have that job anymore but I still have the skills, abilities and expertise. When I channel these through other mediums like this blog and my management consulting company, I am finding that it gives me fulfillment and balance.
2. Living Within Your Means.
As the old idiom goes “cut your coat according to your cloth”. In most cases you are out of balance because you are pushing yourself too hard so you have your grass green all year round. This could be cured by learning to practice delayed gratification or sitting with want.
The rate at which technology and fashion plus many other things changes is too fast. Although enjoying what you already have even when there is a “new kid on the block” is sometimes challenging; you can learn to say “no or not yet” to your wants or desires.
Making use of a monthly budget also allows you to live within your means. The end result is often that you avoid getting into unnecessary debt which in most cases contributes to discontentment and imbalance.
3. Remembering Love is all that matters.
I find that when I am surrounded by people I know love and depend on me, this brings me immense contentment and gives me reason to do what I do everyday.
Carrie Underwood sung that “when you figure out that love is all that matters, it makes everything else seem so small”. Through experience, you can find that contentment comes from hanging out with your family and just “being” . When you focus on those you love and aim at making an impact on the circle of influence God has given you, it allows you to enjoy a balanced life.
4. Working to Live.
You may have encountered the paradox do we work to live or live to work? I often wonder whether it is humanly possible to live to work? In order to live a life of contentment, you should always view work as a means to an end and NEVER the end in itself.
Avoid making your work or job titles the source of your self-worth or identity. Your work should enable you to live a decent lifestyle where you meet your needs and some of your desires and wants.
5. Avoiding Anxiety.
This final point relates to the first point because anxiety usually arises when we try to live in the future. I struggle with anxiety because am a very goal oriented person and like to have things figured out. In the past I have also pushed myself too hard and sometimes been overly ambitious by wanting the next big thing even before celebrating the achievement before me.
We are told to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and not be anxious for tomorrow”. With this in mind, you should learn to “be still and know that he is God”. This requires choosing to cast all your burdens on him and recalling that as the Creator he has the very best plans in store for you. As it turns out, most of the time the things we are anxious about either do not happen or things just work themselves out.
Do you believe that contentment and living a balanced life are related? Please let me know in the comments section.