Many people seem to believe that they can either be content with what they have right now, or they can strive for better.
But it’s not an either/or choice you have to make.
You can do both.
You can be content with your life, what you have, and who you are, whilst also working to improve your life, have more, and be a better person.
This is a wonderful mindset to achieve because it allows for a great peace of mind, but it also provides room and motivation to grow.
But, focusing on just one aspect at a time, how do you learn to be happy and content with your current lot in life?
1. Understand that all things can come and go.
Advertising likes to regularly remind us that life is short!
Except, it’s really not. It can be, but for a lot of people it won’t be.
Lifespans are getting longer, people are staying healthier and active longer, and we are experiencing more.
We have a lot more time to not only gain things in our lives, but lose them too.
And lose them we shall, because not everything is meant for us to hold onto for a long time.
So much of life is in a transient state with people, places, and situations coming and going, spurring us on so we can grow and mature.
Peace is found in accepting these cycles.
Not everyone is meant to be with you for the rest of your life.
Not every dollar you earn will be in your bank account ten years down the road.
Things constantly change. Things constantly end.
The key to peace and happiness in those cycles of change is to embrace it, to know that even though you are experiencing an end or a change now, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t something else for you right around the corner.
You just have to keep walking forward on your path and work toward that continued growth.
It’s a hard thing to do and it won’t happen overnight. It requires concerted effort and reminders over a long period of time to come to terms with it.
2. Do some volunteer work.
It is often said that we should not compare our journey to that of anyone else.
Yet, that’s not as absolute as one might think it is.
It is definitely a bad idea to look at another person’s journey, see what they have, and wish for that.
It is also a bad idea to look down on people that have much less than you.
However, it is a good idea to reground and recenter oneself with a reminder of what you do have in life, what you have attained, what goals you have crushed, what you can take credit for.
Volunteer work is a solid way to stay humble in our fast-paced, competitive world. There is nothing like the human touch to help one feel grounded and appreciative for what we have.
Putting more positivity out into the world is also healthy for our own soul and well-being.
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3. Realize that happiness is often different than we believe it to be.
Love and happiness are two hot commodities that drive sales of self-help books, seminars, and gurus who want to sell you their idea of happiness.
Look at commercials and advertising. All of those happy, bright, smiling faces out partying or vacationing in a tropical paradise or using the newest gadget! Don’t you want to be happy? Then buy our product! It’ll help you be happy!
And then we turn around and post our own versions of happiness all over social media. You look at your friends sharing their own perfectly curated versions of happiness, their allegedly perfect relationships and friendships, their gorgeous vacation, their wonderful job… but it’s all just marketing.
Truth is, happiness is a state that comes and goes.
No one is happy all of the time.
No one is having great adventures or an exciting life all of the time.
No one is easily making their money without a lot of effort put into it somewhere.
Everyone who accomplished something is making sacrifices, putting in effort, and grinding their way toward whatever goals they have.
Happiness? I repeat: happiness comes and goes. No one is happy all of the time.
And there are plenty of people out there who are more content and peaceful than they are happy.
To be happy not only with what you have, but with oneself, one must first determine what happiness means to them, because everyone has different perspectives.
Is it a big bank account?
Is it just being comfortable and not worrying about bills?
Is it a nice house or just a shack?
Is it the newest model car or is it an old one?
Is it the relationship you presently have or would it be something different, more exciting?
4. Remind yourself that greener grass can be deceiving.
“The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”
Why? Because we do not have an accurate or fair assessment of what we are seeing on the other side of the fence.
We don’t see the work, the blood, sweat, and tears, the suffering that was passed through to attain it.
All too often, we can only see our own immediate suffering or turmoil and think things would be so much better if only we were on the other side of that fence, but that isn’t necessarily true.
Once you get over there you will quickly find that there is more at work than was previously visible.
And even worse, what you find may not have been real at all. It may turn out to be a nightmare that is absolutely not right for you. Grass that looks too green may be a complete fabrication.
The truth is that the grass is greenest wherever you water it, nourish it, care for it. That can be your own backyard so long as you dedicate the time and the effort to it.
5. Stop minimizing the positives and amplifying the negatives.
There is a trap that too many people fall into…
They look at the things they have around them and they deem them not good enough by amplifying the negative qualities of those things.
They do not take the time to stop and appreciate all of the positives that they have to offer.
Perhaps it is a flawed spouse, a job that allows us to live a good life but doesn’t provide fulfillment, or maybe it’s where you live.
Whatever it may be, it is important to take some time to stop and appreciate the positive qualities of whatever the thing may be.
And if you can’t find any positive qualities?
Well, then there is no reason you cannot keep working to better your situation, to have more. There is nothing wrong with wanting and working toward more.