“Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.”
Pearl S. Buck
Choose to find the things about yourself that you are happy with. We tend to criticise ourselves easily, but what if we turned it around and asked, “What do I do right? What am I good at? What is lovable about me?” Make a mental list. Start to focus on these things rather than what you’ are unhappy with.
Do the same with others in your life. Instead of criticising them, ask yourself, “What is good about this person? What do I love about them?” List them and focus on these things above all else.
It can be useful to look at what life would be like if we learned to be content:
If you are content with yourself, you are more likely to be a good friend, partner, parent. You are more likely to be happy and friendly and loving, more likely to be as accepting of others as you are of yourself. Relationships improve, especially when others learn to be content with themselves.
Much of our culture’s unhealthiness comes from unhappiness – eating junk food to give ourselves comfort and relieve stress, not exercising because we think we do not have the time, being glued online because we think we might miss something if we turn off the computer or phone. When you realise that you are not missing anything, and you do not need junk food to be happy, and you are good enough to exercise, you can slowly return to health.
The overload of possessions in our lives comes from unhappiness – we buy things because we think they will give us comfort, coolness, happiness, security, an exciting life. When we become content with ourselves and our lives, we realise none of that is necessary, and we can start getting rid of these extraneous crutches.
Much of our busyness comes from fear that we should be doing more, that we might be missing out, that we are not enough already. But we are enough, and we do not need more, and we are not missing out. So we can let go of a lot of unnecessary activity, and just focus on doing what we love, and give ourselves the space to enjoy a contented life.
This is all just a few scratches on the surface of a contented life, but it gives you a picture of what might be. And the truth is, once you learn the simple trick of contentedness, it is really a picture of what already is. You just need to let go of the fears, and see what is already here.
“It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”