The Little Book Of Contentment is a guide to becoming happy with life & who you are, while getting things done.
The What & Why of Contentment
What is contentment?
For me, it’s really about being happy with who you are. Which I wasn’t for many years, and I think most people are not.
In my life, I’ve learned to be better at the skill of contentment. I am happy with my life. I am happy with my life. I’m happy with where I am professionally, and I don’t seek to add more readers or pageviews or income. I’m happy wherever I am.
Many might say, ‘Sure, you can say that now that you’ve reached a certain level of success’, but I think that’s wrong. Many people who achieve success don’t find contentment, and are always driven to want more and are unhappy with themselves. Many people who are poor or don’t have a ‘successful’ career have found contentment. And what’s more, I think finding contentment has actually driven any success that I’ve found–it helped me get out of debt, it helped me change my habits, it has made me a better husband, father, friend and collaborator–perhaps even a better writer.
Worst of all, with the attitude of ‘you can be content because you’re successful,’ is that people who say this are dismissing the path of contentment… when it’s something they can do right now. Not later, when they reach certain goals or a certain level of financial success. Now.
Action Step: Ask yourself if you’re content right now. If not, when do you want to be content? What’s stopping you?
The Path Of Contentment
We start out in life thinking that we’re awesome. We can dance in public as 5-year-olds and not care what others think of us. By the time we’re adults, that’s been driven out of us, by peers and parents, and the media and embarrassing situations.
As adults, we doubt ourselves. We judge ourselves badly. We are critical of our bodies, of ourselves as people, of our lack of discipline, of all our faults. We don’t like our lives.
As a result, we try to improve this lacking self, try to get better because we suck so much. Or we doubt our ability to get better and are unhappy about that. Or we sabotage our attempts at change because we don’t really believe we can do it.
This self-dislike results in worse relationships, a stagnant career, unhappiness with life, complaints about everything, and often unhealthy habits, such as eating junk food, drinking too much alcohol, not exercising, shopping too much, being addicted to video games or the Internet.
So what’s the path to being content with yourself and your life?
The first problem is if you don’t trust yourself. That’s an important area to work with.
Your relationship with yourself is like your relationship with anyone else. If you have a friend who is constantly late and breaking his word, not showing up when he says he will, eventually you’ll stop trusting that friend. It’s like that with yourself, too. It’s hard to like someone you don’t trust, and it’s hard to like yourself if you don’t trust yourself.
So work on this trust with yourself. Increase it slowly, and eventually you’ll trust yourself to be awesome.
The second problem is that you judge yourself badly. You compare yourself to an unreal ideal, in all areas. You want a beautiful model’s body. You want to achieve certain goals, personally and professionally. You want to travel the world and learn languages, and learn a musical instrument, and be an amazing chef, and have an amazing social life, and have the perfect spouse and kids, and incredible achievements, and be the fittest person on the planet. Of course, those are completely realistic ideals, right?
And when we have these ideals, we compare ourselves to them, and we always measure up badly.
The path to contentment, then, is to stop comparing ourselves to these ideals. Stop judging ourselves. Let go of ideals. And gradually learn to trust ourselves.
Action Step: Consider what ideals you have that you compare yourself to. Also ask yourself if you trust yourself to be able to follow through, to stick to changes, to get things done.