Life can be really tough at times, and there’s no denying this. However, life can also be filled with major highs, successes, happiness, and amazing times. And, in between these two extremes, there is ‘normal’ everyday life. Getting through the busy days, working, caring for others, carrying out the mundane admin tasks, and organising family logistics.
Because our lives are so busy, we have very little time to consider our own sense of contentment. It’s often tricky to even know if what we are feeling is contentment or perhaps just routine or even boredom?
We are often very careful not to rock the boat and keep doing more of the same just to keep going – whether it’s a stressful job, an unhappy relationship, or another aspect of our life that is unrewarding and, in truth, isn’t serving us.
So, how can we begin to take note of where we are right now, accept it, and make the necessary changes? How do we find out what our emotions are trying to tell us, and use this information to try and find a sustainable type of contentment within?
True contentment does exist, we just need to learn to listen to what we need in order to achieve it!
What does contentment feel like?
In many cultures, contentment is seen as the highest achievement of a human being. It’s what the enlightened masters and chief yogis have been writing about for hundreds of years.
It’s hard to describe the emotion of contentment, in fact, it can be very different for everyone to experience. The most useful description of it that I read once in an article is ‘the knowledge of being enough’. It’s the feeling that you are enough, what you have is enough and despite everything going on around you, you remain as you are.
In the west, we are on a constant pursuit to find happiness, achieve more, and get rewarded for our actions. Yet, as we know, this is closely followed by stress, anxiety, and burnout as we reach for those goals. Often, we develop unhelpful habits such as eating too much or too little, spending too much money, drinking too much alcohol, having affairs, or any other behaviour that helps keep down those difficult emotions and frustrations and instead gives us a quick thrill or a moment of happiness.
Contentment is different to happiness as we know that constant happiness is not sustainable. That there will be periods when we experience loss, grief, financial worry, or bad news, and we can’t escape these things unless we hide ourselves away forever.
Instead of focussing on happiness gained from external factors, focussing on contentment within yourself can help you to live in a state of unconditional satisfaction, regardless of what is happening externally.
Contentment doesn’t come through achievement
Many people are deeply frustrated by their life’s limitations. They might feel as if they need to achieve more, earn more money and live a more exciting life to be able to feel true happiness. They remain uneasy as they always feel as if something is still missing. That somehow they won’t feel this contentment until they have moved into the dream house, secured the dream job, or married their dream partner.
The truth is that contentment can’t be reached through achieving these things. Even after these accomplishments are made, you still won’t feel at ease because the desire to achieve the next level of achievements will always be there waiting.
Distinguishing between needs and wants
When it comes to contentment, although we might have established that the material wants don’t qualify, our basic needs still have to be satisfied. We need food, protection, safety, participation, and understanding to be able to feel that sense of ‘enough’.
Therefore, a good place to start in the pursuit of contentment is to evaluate these areas of your life and make any changes that will help you to fulfill these basic needs. Being in a toxic relationship, feeling misunderstood at work, not feeling safe in your home or not getting enough nutrients from the food you eat are all things that should be your first point of call to address and work on changing.
Our bodies speak volumes here. When our basic needs are not being met, and contentment is lacking, very often we experience physical symptoms as a result.
Obviously, pain anywhere in the body needs to be investigated, as there may be a genuine reason we are experiencing pain in that area, however pain and tension in the body can often be linked to emotional responses of dis-contentment.
In Chinese Medicine, energy stagnation is caused by frustration either emotionally or through lack of movement. If we keep getting pain around the rib cage, for example, it is the pain telling us that our energy isn’t moving the way it should.
Learning to listen to your own body and tuning into its needs will empower you to take ownership of your personal wellbeing, instead of leaving it up to others and factors that are largely out of your control.
Simplicity and practicing gratitude
When you distinguish between your needs and your wants, you can begin to stop overburdening yourself. You can gradually part ways with the stress of wanting more and more and the feelings of anxiety about how to get those things. You may find that you can work fewer hours, change your career path or even retire altogether!
A sustainable level of contentment promotes simplicity and working on personal growth rather than a growth of possessions. Practicing gratitude can help us to be thankful for the simple things we experience every day. It can also help us to realise that nothing is ever permanent, so those feelings of anxiety can settle as we come to terms with the ebbs and flows better.
Examples of ways to practice gratitude include writing a list of things you are grateful for each day before you go to bed, thanking others for their help or advice when they don’t expect it, sending notes of thanks or praise to businesses, managers, or colleagues when they have performed well, and also asking yourself ‘what can I be grateful for right now when you are facing a challenging situation.
I work with many people who are suffering from anxiety and frustration because of their perceived limitations, as well as those who struggle to fulfill their basic needs. I offer a variety of therapies such as coaching, counseling, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, Havening technique, reflexology & massage to help support the individual work through their stress, burnout, or any other challenges that they are struggling with.
Wherever you are in your life or career, I would love to hear from you. I offer face-to-face therapy sessions from my therapy suite in central Harrogate or alternatively can offer online sessions too if this suits you better.
Please feel free to contact me on 07787 831275 or email email@example.com
Top of Form