I can’t keep track of the number of times that my life has shifted in ways that I didn’t expect. Times when I thought or expected things to just carry on or develop in typical ways and then, “BAM! PLOT TWIST!“
I guess in someways it keeps life exciting and yet, I feel like I’ve had more than enough “excitement” in my life and could actually use a little boring and mundane stability.
I’ve done a lot of thinking about contentment, recently. I’ve had very well meaning people tell me that I’m so strong and capable; that I seem to be able to “handle so much” They might mention that they don’t know how I do it; and although I believe they are good hearted people, it doesn’t exactly feel like a compliment.
Gah! I just don’t want to have to be strong enough or to have to go through difficult times. I don’t want the knowledge that I can handle weighty things. Sometimes, I just want to yell, “Enough already! I just want to breathe, rest and grow without the effort and pain of conflict and uncertainty.”
And yet, this is life.
There is pain.
There is uncertainty.
There is chaos.
There is struggle.
There is also good and joy and love and peace and blessing and happiness and enough. Even in the midst of the pain and the chaos, of the hurt and discomfort; of the uncertainty and conflict – there is good.
How do we find that goodness when we feel overwhelmed by the hurt and pain? How do we be content?
I recently read this description of contentment and I love it!
Contentment is being happy with what you have.
Contentment is being happy with who you are.
Contentment is being happy with where you are.
I love this statement. Read it again.
Contentment is respecting the reality of the present.
It’s not about settling. It’s not about giving up. It’s not about denying reality. It’s not glossing over or ignoring the difficult things. It’s not about toxic positivity.
It is about RESPECTING THE REALITY OF THE PRESENT in all its messy goodness, and horror. It’s holding or having space for the duality of life. Recognizing that there is good and bad. Life is full of contradictions and we have the honour and responsibility of choosing our responses in any situation.
I believe that, too often, we allow our reactions to dictate our responses, especially in difficult situations. I love this quote from Victor Frankl,
” Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”
I believe that part of contentment is holding “this space.”
Being content requires self awareness. In order to be happy with what you have, who you are and where you’re at – you need to KNOW what you have, who you are and where you’re at.
Knowing WHO YOU ARE, allows you to build your life on a solid foundation. It enables you to see what you have, what you want, where you are and where you want to go. It’s easier to create the life that you want for yourself when you truly know yourself. Then, when your story has a sudden Plot Twist, you can stand in “that space” and choose your response in a way that aligns with values.
You can hold the reality of both the pain and the good; and make choices that align with who you truly are. You have the power to choose your actions and reactions.
There is something extremely empowering in recognizing that we have a choice. We get to chose our responses to the things that happen in our lives. We may not always have control over what happens because there may be outside influences that are out of our control, but we get to choose our response.
In that choice, in that space, in that moment – there is power, growth and freedom and there can be contentment, even in the difficult times.