And, might it be possible that contentment affords us the best opportunity at achieving success in the way we define it?
What are the Characteristics of Contentment?
Not Allowing Our Joy to Be Limited by Others:
We may not be able to fully turn off our reactions to what others think of us. We can, however, master the ability of not comparing ourselves to others or what they do or have. Learning to take people’s opinions with a grain of salt can carry us well into contentment. Regardless of what other people are thinking or doing, our self-worth comes from within. Our joy is based on the choices we make in life.
Walking in Forgiveness:
Forgiveness requires letting go of where we have been wronged so that we are able to move on. It doesn’t mean we are required to place ourselves in the position to be wronged again. Strength of character allows us to forgive and not be bogged down unnecessarily by others’ mistakes. While God expects us to forgive, there may be situations when He will not require us to continue in a harmful or destructive relationship. Forgiveness sets us free, but it is a choice.
Choose the Right Battles:
When in conflict with someone, learning to read and respond to our emotions can help us choose battles wisely and only stand our ground when the time and the cause is right. A good check and balance is to monitor our motives. What is it that we want to achieve?
Relinquish the Illusion of Perfection
Perfection is a target that doesn’t exist. By our very nature, we are fallible. When perfection is the goal, we’re often left with a nagging sense of failure, and end up spending time lamenting over what we have failed to accomplish and what we may wish we had done differently instead of enjoying what we have achieved.
The Path to Contentment is Not Found in the Rearview:
Failure could easily be defined as quitting. If we do not quit until we are confident we’ve given something our very best, we can gain the confidence to believe there can be a better outcome in the future. Many efforts involve taking risks and trying to achieve something that isn’t easy. Our success may lie in the ability to rise in the face of failure and simply persevere. It is unlikely that we will be able to do this if we are living in the past regretting mistakes that we have no power to change.
Dwelling on Problems Inhibits Contentment
Where we focus our attention determines our emotional state. Fixating on problems we may be facing causes us to create and prolong negative emotions and stress, thus, hindering our best efforts. By focusing on actions to better ourselves and our circumstances, we can increase our effectiveness in producing positive emotions and therefore, improve our performance. Focusing on solutions as opposed to the problems, will lead us closer to the path of contentment.
Limit Exposure to Negativity
Hanging around people who wallow in their problems instead of working on solutions is very draining, emotionally. While some people feel the need to draw others into their diatribes, there is a fine line between lending a sympathetic ear and getting sucked into their negative emotional spiral. Avoid being drawn in by setting limits and distancing yourself when necessary. A great way to set limits is to ask those who come with a list of complaints, how they intend to fix a problem. This can actually help them to quiet down or redirect the conversation in a more productive direction.
The Path to Contentment Cannot Be Built with Grudges
The negative emotions that come with holding onto a grudge are actually a stress response. Just thinking about the event involved sends your body into fight-or-flight mode. This reaction is essential to our survival and understandable, if we are under a threat. However, holding onto this level of stress can have devastating health consequences over time. In fact, research at Emory University has indicated that holding onto stress contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease. Learning to let go of a grudge allows you to feel better and may help you actually improve your health.
Contentment Requires that You Only Say “Yes” When You Really Want To
“No” is a powerful word and can be a major challenge for many. Research conducted at the University of California in San Francisco indicates that the more difficulty we have in saying no, the more likely we are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression. We benefit greatly by learning to overcome our fear of saying “no” when we know that it is the best for us to do so. This is best achieved by practicing “little no’s” with those we can trust to respect them. Saying “no” to a new commitment honors our existing commitments and gives us the opportunity to enjoy the effort involved in successfully fulfilling them.
Where are you setting your sights? The Path of Contentment is also a path of peace!
Sheri Geyer is a Christian Life Coach, Writer, Realtor, Wife & Mom