Gail Oliver Cambridge | October 1, 2021
Are You a Contented Person?
Have you ever been in a state of contented bliss when the stars aligned? Your relationships were on point, mental and physical health in good shape, and finances in order…check, check, check.
I recall having a grin like a Cheshire cat and a giddy feeling as I savored this sweet state…all was well in my world. Well, not quite as I didn’t have all the boxes checked! Oh, but what a glorious feeling despite that. Then came the interruption.
How can we experience and sustain being content despite the troubles around us? We all feel a sense of security when everything is flourishing in our lives, but are we content? You have probably heard of wealthy people being miserable, and some people responding, “Well, I’d rather have the money and be miserable, than be poor and miserable.”
Dr. Julie Rosenberg states, “True contentment is a deep-seated sense of accepting who and where you are at any given moment.” This is where I want to be even when things are not going my way, and I believe the answer is to make a deliberate choice not to get lost in whatever is affecting me negatively.
Some may think that contentment is accepting whatever life brings us and not upsetting the status quo. But such passivity is not the solution. We should all strive for a better life, and yet the effort shouldn’t be all consuming. We should be in a place of flow so that when issues arise, we don’t panic. However, if panicking is our initial response, we should eventually calm down and take whatever is troubling us in stride.
Outside forces can wreak havoc, but we must do the best we can with the resources we have to solve the problem, then leave it be—having the faith that this too shall pass. Things are not always going to go our way, and really would getting ourselves worked up make a difference? (Think back to the months of lockdown; the pandemic was out of our control, and we survived!)
Then there is the emotional aspect. How do we counter inner turmoil—those feelings of discontent, when we are trapped with bouts of animosity, envy, jealousy, or hungering for more? We must not allow the discontent to fester. This is stressful to our nervous system and mentally weighs us down.
When things are out of whack in any area of our lives, decision making comes into play. Let’s choose to lift the curtain and let in the sunshine, even if it’s just to peek! A first step can simply be telling our brains that, yes, something is wrong but to take a breath and consider how we might make it right. Acknowledging that there’s a problem and deciding to do whatever we can to fix it—or recognizing that it’s beyond our control—is how we can free ourselves of its grip.
Being content in any situation is a state of mind that’s achievable. The Apostle Paul puts it this way:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13 NIV)
In such a state, our tendency toward dissatisfaction would be eclipsed by our gratitude.