Dictionary.com defines contentment as satisfaction; ease of mind or the act of making contentedly satisfied. Before RA and fibro came into my life all those years ago, I felt like I was content with life. Yes, I wanted more but I was okay if things stayed the same. That was a long time ago. Of late, I have been having moments of contentment and this feeling is wonderful.
Finding that contentment again took a lot of work. I have been through a lot including chronic illness, financial issues, and losing my brother so bouncing back from all of that has been challenge. As far as RA and fibro are concerned, I am not in remission but my symptoms are tolerable and I have more good days than bad ones. Sure, I wish things were better but if they say the same, I am okay with that too. The financial issues are for the most part resolved and my perception of needs and wants has changed. I know that if things stay as they are now, I will be fine. I would like all the financial concerns to completely be gone but at least, I am finally sleeping at night. Last, I miss my brother more than anything imaginable but I know that he is truly in a better place. His memory doesn’t hurt like it used to. If anything, it gives me peace and a sense of security. While I wish that I could turn back time, I am okay with the fact that he is in God’s keeping and company. I understand that God asked my brother to come home in order to end his suffering and I accept that he is in a better place.
In the past, I could not find contentment because of my need to be perfect and that had always hindered my ability to be content. Over the years, I have learned to let go of perfectionism because I understand and know that some things are just out of my control. So many of us struggle with the simple notion of what exactly is enough. Even when we don’t share what is going in in our minds, we let feeling overwhelmed and the struggle to find contentment dominate our lives. The fact is life is not perfect for most of us and even when it is it, it does not last very long. As we get older, we realize that imperfection is a reality and the only way to be happy is to embrace imperfection.
We often simile and nod when we are asked if we are okay but we are constantly trying to find perfection and in that sense, we are not really okay. Life has been tough for me dealing with my responsibilities to my family in addition to struggling with chronic illness. I got to a point where I could no longer live up to my own expectations while trying to juggle and balance my life. The only way to keep from going insane was to accept my circumstances and to understand that perfectionism was no longer a possibility.
No One is Born Content
No one is born with contentment. When we are babies, we cry for everything and as we grow up, we experience frustration and struggle. Interestingly enough, hardship is what helps us to find contentment. A couple years ago, I asked a wise soul about being content. It was a time in my life where I was struggling with so much and to add injury to everything I was going through my brother got sick. The response from that wise person was to get my mind straight. I didn’t know what that meant at the time and I thought it was bad advice but looking back, I know what that meant.
Contentment is a state of mind and nothing material can offer us this. I think that people believe that materialism makes them happy but material things lose their luster. If you want contentment, you have to look for it within yourself and not allow external forces to interfere. I find that as my bond with God increased, my spiritual and religious contentment superseded the material world. I strongly believe that God will make it possible for me to be happy and satisfied with life if I am willing to make the choice to be. Maybe in the past I had this peace without a strong belief in God but I know now that my contentment will not last if I don’t allow God a part of my contentment.
Of course, there is the element of choice involved in my finding contentment. Losing my brother has taught me that there is no joy found in possessions. Once I stopped mistaking belongings for happiness, I was able to free my mind from frustration and clutter. As long as I can stay content with the cards I have been dealt, discontent cannot rear its ugly head and keep me from appreciating everything life has to offer.
Appreciation Leads Contentment
How do I appreciate everything life has to offer and not be bogged down by life?
First, I have learned to be grateful. You cannot develop contentment if you do not feel grateful. I am so grateful for what I have and I worry less about what I don’t have. My children are safe and they are healthy and I so grateful for that. My mother lost a child and she can still find gratitude. If she can do it, so can I.
Second, I have changed my attitude. I know that I cannot control certain aspects of my life (i.e. my health) but I can control how I feel. Happiness, as I have learned, is a choice and learning this is an important life lesson.
Third, I have stopped comparing myself to others. I have learned that trying to compare myself to others will always make me unhappy. The other side of the spectrum, and as my sister often says, no one knows what goes on behind closed doors. In other words, just because someone appears better off, it does mean that they are.
Fourth, helping others and sharing my talent, time, and money has allowed me to feel content. Helping others helps you to appreciate what you have, what you are and what it is you have to offer. I know what I have, who I am and all my talents. My talents are my greatest asset and I am happy to have those to offer to the world.
Last, I have made a choice to be content with what I have and this is a reminder when life bogs me down. Being content with what I have doesn’t mean I have to be content with who I am. The way I see it is if I am not fully content with who I am, I can continue to learn, to grow or to discover. I am willing to take pride in all I have accomplished (guess what, that is a whole lot), but I always have room for improvement. It is so important to human survival that we keep willing to grow and learn. I appreciate who I am but it does not mean that I cannot be a better me. I still have so much to do and accomplish. I can still be an even better person and every day I find ways to be.
Each of us has so much to be grateful for so count your blessings and commit to be happy. Find contentment in the life that God has given you. I finally have and it is a great feeling.