Three Sure-fire Ways To Kill Contentment

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Learning to be content living in the Shoebox (with less stuff and a one-income budget) is a major theme of my life over the past three years. I’ve mentioned it over and over. The more I share my journey with friends, I realize that contentment—being truly joyful and peaceful with current situations—is something with which many of us struggle! As I trust God to train my heart to remain content, I’ve also figured out some of the biggest pitfalls to appreciating your lot in life, so today we’ll talk about what NOT to do. {Click through for three sure-fire ways to kill contentment!}

1. Stop Being Thankful For What You DO Have

Being thankful isn’t just for November Facebook status updates. Stop appreciating and naming your everyday gifts—a providing husband, healthy kids, grace from a good God, sunshine on a cold day, the taste of a grilled cheese sandwich (mmmmmm)—and your contentment level takes a major hit. When your eyes and heart are focused on finding everyday blessings, you are naturally poised to be content with what you have and where you are.

Remaining in the humble place of gratitude truly enhances the contentment of your heart. {By the way, counting small or large everyday blessings is the basis for Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts. If you haven’t read it yet, READ IT. It changed my life!}

When your eyes and heart are focused on finding everyday blessings, you are naturally poised to be content with what you have and where you are.

2. Dwell too deeply on “Pinterest Perfection”

One of my generation’s favorite past times (for better or worse) is browsing online for inspiration, be it home decor, garden design, outfit ensembles, exotic cars, creative projects. We love to see something well done and then imagine how we can recreate that picture in our own life. There’s nothing wrong with appreciating ideas, but dwelling too deeply on “Pinterest perfection” is a quick contentment zapper. You see, the line between admiration and agonizing is frog-hair-fine. All it takes is a couple seconds of wishing your home had a spiral staircase in the Tuscan-styled cavernous entryway to spin your heart from happy to how-I-wish.

By all means, browse for ideas and beautiful projects. But do it with a healthy dose of appreciation for your own life, your own current circumstances, your own budgetary limits, the beauty of your own real life.

3. Fail to improvise creatively

Often times, discontent is the byproduct of a fixation on a certain expectation in life—a larger salary, a more spacious home, a newer home outside of the city, getting your kids into a better school, not enough time to work on your life-giving hobbies, or the desire for a certain piece of furniture to fit in just that right spot. I’ve found that a little creativity surrounding the expectation can help to alleviate the fixation and also keep contentment levels high.

For example, I’ve been wanting a stool with a little bit of storage underneath to put in a certain corner of the kitchen. The stool would be a perch for a friend to sit on while I’m making coffee, and the storage would temporarily hide stray toys that migrate onto the kitchen floor. I won’t pay full price for such an item and haven’t found the perfect stool at a thrift store yet, so in the meantime I cleaned out a basket that was being used for something else and placed it in the corner. Although I still don’t have the sitting space, the basket is wonderfully helpful in keeping the kitchen floor tidy. See? Evaluate your actual need and the importance of that item, and then improvise creatively to see how you can achieve that goal without the expectation on which what you might be fixated. 

 

Remaining content in life is an active, daily activity. Being thankful for what you do have, not dwelling too deeply on unattainable perfection, and improvising creatively are three tangible ways to train your heart to be happy with the current circumstances of your life.

What about you? What other ways have you found to either remain content or harpoon it? Comment below and share your thoughts!

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9 Comments
  • Jillian
    January 13, 2014

    I so needed to read this today, friend! I have been frustrated and dwelling on what isn’t, rather than being thankful for what is. Perfect reminder to snap out of it!

    • Evelyn
      January 13, 2014

      Yay! All praise to the King. 🙂 Miss you Jill!

  • Anna
    January 13, 2014

    Love the book. I am still keeping a gratitude list/journal. Plan to do it until Jesus takes me home. It really does make a difference and has changed my life. Thanks for the reminders.

    • Evelyn
      January 13, 2014

      Totally makes a difference! Thanks for commenting, Anna. 🙂

  • Kim
    January 13, 2014

    Being fearful of the future is a way to harpoon contentment. It may not be a creative solution, but I am going to take my fears to Jesus today and see if I can find some more contentment. Great well-written post, Evelyn.

    • Evelyn
      January 13, 2014

      Oh my goodness! Kim, you’re so right! That is SUCH a good one–I might have to write an entire post on that. I too have been wrestling with fear again today, and I’m right there with you: I had to stop, take my concerns to Jesus OUT LOUD, and once I faced them head-on with scripture, poof! Heart reset. So grateful for you & your thoughts.

      • Kim
        January 14, 2014

        Thank you, Evelyn. Your thoughts are often a boost to me or a confirmation of something that God wants me to remember!

  • kim
    January 17, 2014

    I find a lot of things add to my contentment. Here are some of them. Spending alone time with God both in Bible reading and prayer each morning. Talking walks and talking with my hubby or son. Moving furniture or pictures around/ changing up things in my home to make it feel new. Relaxing with a cup of coffee or tea. Watching the birds. Visiting blogs and see what others are enjoying or reflecting on……Reading a good book and escaping into another world. Playing with my grandchildren–I feel like I am in a totally different place! Focusing on trusting God to take care of problems for me and my loved ones (our family and extended family has had so really hard issues to face this year. Remembering that Emmanuel means God with us and He is!

    • Evelyn
      January 20, 2014

      What a beautiful answer, Kim! Thanks for sharing. “Emmanual” is SUCH a wonderful thing to truly set your mind on. What a mystery! 🙂 I’m so glad you stopped by.

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