Cultivating Contentment

Contentment is more than a moment of passing appreciation, it’s a way of life, a way of being. It’s that place deep inside where our minds and hearts rest because we’re at ease with who we are and what we have. Contentment does not mean overlooking what is painful or difficult, but instead letting go of the struggle and focusing on the gifts that always accompany a challenge. In the midst of heartache, mindfulness and contentment widen our field of awareness enabling us to embrace what’s difficult, instead of being overwhelmed by it. This gives us the vision to see all the nourishing aspects of this moment.

Contentment is a powerful choice, and since we are the curators of our own contentment, let’s think about how to cultivate this. Doris Mortman wrote, “Until you make peace with who you are, you will never be content with what you have.” Making peace begins with accepting who we are and loving ourselves with the same deep commitment that we give to others. We show ourselves kindness, become our own best friend, and acknowledge that we’re not in competition with anyone else. We avoid harsh judgements, forgive ourselves when needed and learn from our mistakes.

Mayo Clinic writes that science tells us only a small portion of our contentedness comes from circumstances. Most of it comes from our personal thoughts and behaviors, and those can be changed. Contented people seem to know this gift comes from the sum of their life choices. According to Mayo’s, the pillars for those choices are – investing in relationships, appreciating what we have, having a positive outlook, having a sense of purpose and living in the moment.

Recognizing when we have enough is another way to cultivate contentment. Things take time and energy to maintain, so passing on what we don’t need simplifies life and feels freeing. My husband and I have discovered that the older we get, the less we need. This leaves more time for things we enjoy and many of these are completely free such as: reading poetry to each other, walking on the beach, cooking a favorite meal together, watching ducks and birds come and go on the lake, and face time with family. Contentment can come from life’s little pleasures.

Gratitude nourishes contentment because it promotes a sense of wonder and appreciation for life. Both life’s large and small events deserve gratitude so I’m grateful for the first hot drink of the morning, fresh sheets on the bed, the orchid blooming in the living room, the wind on my face, and the driver who lets me into a crowded lane of traffic. Thanking someone who’s shown us kindness or supported us through a hard time uplifts both the person giving thanks, and the receiver. Gratitude is a counterpoint that gently focuses our attention on everything we have to be thankful for, instead of letting our minds get stuck in what we feel is lacking in our life.

Our contentment is increased when we make time to be quiet. Some people do this by meditating, which stimulates the part of the brain that makes us feel good. Meditation can take different forms such as praying, listening to nature, or walking through a park. The purpose of quiet time is to connect with our inner guidance so we’re listening to our heart. This connection

leads to an inner peace and calmness that heals and strengthens us, so stress and anxiety are reduced.

We cultivate contentment when we do what we love, take time to have fun, stay in the moment and accept the things we can’t change. Since all of this is a matter of choice, we hold the key. Consider this blog an open invitation to increasing the nourishing aspects of our life. Right now, our is world is full of challenging changes. Let’s choose to be at ease with who we are and what we have so we can deepen our daily contentment.

Until Next Time – Sylvia

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