Many of us spend a lot of time being concerned about every aspect of our lives and often miss out on the sweet feeling of contentment. Concern causes stress, anxiety, and upset, while contentment elicits feelings of peace, confidence, acceptance, and fulfillment. That sounds like a great place to be.
Yet, if we’re not feeling content with our lives, how do we get to that place of self-acceptance, self-love, and self-appreciation? Where we feel everything is right with the world, and even when it isn’t, we can handle whatever comes up. Where we can give up the constant nagging concerns that haunt our every waking, and sometimes sleeping moments. Where we can continue to strive for more, if we want it, while being perfectly okay with where we are.
Here are some strategies I’ve discovered over my years of coaching that can help you experience more contentment in all areas of your life:
1. Follow Your Bliss.
Are you doing work you love? If not, why not? What would it take to follow your bliss every day–in your work and in your personal life? I don’t know about you, but I’ve talked to a lot of people in my coaching practice who say, “Someday…” and keep putting off doing their bliss. What are you putting off until someday? Is it having your own business? Is it embarking on a travel adventure? Is it taking up a hobby like painting, fishing, or a new sport? Are you waiting until you retire to try your hand at writing the great American novel or teaching a class in something you’re passionate about? What can you do today that would express your bliss and thus fill you with true contentment? I encourage you to do it NOW!
2. Adopt a Daily Practice.
Choose something that starts your day on a positive, grateful note and keeps you grounded throughout the day. Some practices that come to mind include yoga, meditation, journaling, walking, art (painting or drawing), listening to calming music, saying affirmations, or reading inspiring books. If you don’t have your own practice as yet, experiment with some of these until you find one you really resonate with. Then do it every day and observe how you feel. If it’s adding to your feelings of contentment, great, keep it up. If not, find a practice that feels more supportive to you.
3. Develop Intimate Relationships.
Nothing creates contentment more than feeling connected to others on a deep level. And this begins with you. You may not be aware of whether or not you have an intimate relationship with yourself, but give it some thought and notice what you observe. If you don’t feel that connection, I suggest journaling. It’s the quickest way to get connected to who you really are. From there, reach out to others. It’s the best feeling in the world to know there’s always someone you can be totally yourself with and say anything at all, whatever’s in your heart or on your mind. Intimacy is a direct path to contentment.
4. Move Your Body.
Anything you do is better than nothing. If you’re not a fan of exercise, find something that’s fun but also gets you in motion. It could be dancing, golfing, tennis, yoga, swimming, or simply walking. Many people who run, for example, report a feeling of euphoria, most likely from the release of endorphins, followed by a profound calm. After a good run or any exercise, after you feel like you’ve done something positive for your body, comes a deep sense of contentment. Nothing connects us to our deeper feelings than our body. We spend a lot of time thinking, so when we move our body, we reconnect our whole being. If we add deep breathing to whatever form of movement we choose, we are fully connected–mind, body, and emotion. From this connection stems contentment.
5. Give Back.
Studies have shown people find contentment when they offer their time and energy to a charitable cause. These studies indicate that people who have felt frustrated and unfulfilled have seen improvements in physical and mental health, and their lives take on a fuller meaning through volunteering. You may experience a reduction in stress, a quieting of your overactive mind, and a general sense of well being. There are more than enough opportunities to do community service wherever you live. If you love animals, there are countless organizations with training programs to get you up to speed. Hospitals, elder care facilities, and schools are always looking for extra hands. Check out whatever touches your heart, and bask in the contentment you’ll feel from giving of yourself.
Thanks to Widow’s Quest for including this article in the Carnival of Positive Thinking, to AnandDhillon.com for featuring this post in the Carnival of Self-Mastery, to ImprovedLife.ca for publishing this article in the Carnival of Improving Life, and to Your Finish Rich Plan for inclusion in the Rich Life Carnival.