“Be content with what you have.” Hebrews 13:5
Contentment is such a peaceful, gentle word, that almost makes you sigh as you say it out loud. The dictionary definition of the term contentment is as follows: (noun) state of happiness and satisfaction. When looking up the true meaning of contentment, there are various meanings and interpretations. Some refer to an emotional state of satisfaction while others define it as a mental state of ease. Or the relaxing of your body and mind. This does not seem hard, but I think that we (as a society) struggle with the idea of contentment. It sounds good, we try so hard, some of us succeed, while others fail. So, why is it so hard to attain? Two words: anxiety and acceptance.
Today, we live in a very anxious society. One that has been plagued with additional stress and anxiety due to many causes (some cannot be helped while others can). We cannot control COVID, sickness, loss, etc. Shifts in schooling for families (in person and/or online eLearning). Shifts in working from home, being a parent, and or trying to find a work-life balance. The economy continues to change and prices increase, gas increases, etc. The need for a workforce, those who will go back to work or need/should work to pay their bills, rent, and provide food for their families. Working for most people is a good way to contentment as it gets people outside of themselves or worrying about their own challenges and helps provide a means to their living. Choosing not to work but wanting is self-imposed anxiety.
Acceptance. That is an important aspect of finding contentment. Acceptance of who you are; where you are in life; and what you have. Many don’t want to accept any of these aspects. Or there is a constant need to want; buy; spend; have more; keep up with others; etc. Social media doesn’t help with contentment as others compare themselves, their homes, their families, their material goods, etc. to what others have or don’t have.
There is a difference between striving to do more, give more and be more that can be good but dangerous. Striving for the balance of contentment is vital to those who are consistently working, doing, giving, being, for others.
I think that just saying “I am happy with what I have, who I am, what I have attained, etc.” is powerful. Don’t get me wrong, I like nice stuff too. But at the end of the day, that material wealth does not define me or make me more of a person (or a better person). Content people are happier people. They are people who focus outwardly on others. If you are not content, you tend to focus on yourself and what you don’t have; what you want; what others have that you want; etc. A horrible cycle of want. And guess what, that new car, that new kitchen, that new pair of shoes, that new ring, will not bring you contentment. It might make you happy for a few days or weeks, then on to the next thing to buy (this is a horrible cycle).
I cannot imagine going through life and not finding contentment. Pure, real, holistic, fulfillment in some aspect of my life (relationships, family, career, etc.). I find great contentment in my work and in my role as a mother/wife. Not to say that sometimes this is hard or a struggle, but I try. I try to breathe, be still, look around me feel grateful for all that I have; and find a state of contentment. Not a wanting or longing but a sense of satisfaction in a job well done. Acceptance of a job, task, day, etc. well done.
Winter will continue to linger but I hope you find a form of contentment in the midst of wintering. To accept the cold, the snow, the grey days, and look for peace and contentment in this season.