Contentment is a topic that comes up frequently in conversations around me. To be content with what we have. It’s one of the themes found throughout the Bible. Being satisfied with what we have, who we are, and where we’re going. “…I have learned the secret to being content in any and every situation…through him who gives me strength” Phil 4:12-13 In my own estimation, being content is a sister to mindfulness which is a state of active, open attention on the present.
Over the last couple years, I’ve spent a great deal of time learning about and practicing mindfulness. At the same time, I’ve been diving into learning about human behavior. I’ve become a student of Brene Brown, learned behavior tools – DISC and the Enneagram (and dabbled with others) – become a coach, listen to a wide range of podcasts that probe this topic, and read, read, read. Honestly, much of what I’m learning, I can apply to my own life, and do.
And I love it. Love learning new concepts about human behavior, how to apply it in my relationships and in my own life. Yet, I wonder sometimes if I’m not being content.
My immediate response would be that I’m content, but that I’m growing, and that’s normal. I went to the dictionary to break down contentment and here’s what I found: defined it’s: a state of happiness and satisfaction. A mental or emotional state or satisfaction maybe drawn from being at ease in one’s situation, body and mind. To be free from care because of satisfaction with is already one’s own. That seems to simple. I am content with my surroundings, generally, with some of the aspects of my life, but believe that I’m “not there yet.” Life is not perfect, I am most certainly not perfect (and never will be), and I am continuing to evolve.
I suspect part of my challenge with the idea of contentment is that it feels like complacency. I’ve gone back to the dictionary to ensure I was understanding that term accurately. Complacency: self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies. Satisfaction with yourself. A feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like. Complacency feels like sticking my head in the sand.
It’s the tension between contentment and complacency that plays out in my mind. How to balance the two so that I’m not constantly seeking, but am content, while at the same time not being complacent. That said, I know that if you look hard enough, or maybe not even that hard at all, you will find areas of your life where you can improve. But I think there’s a different between circling that drain and honestly looking for areas where you want life to be different. Where you want to engage with life, in relationships, differently.
When I ask myself if I am content, I would say yes. Certainly, yes with belongings, with my general circumstances. But I’m still a work in progress, aren’t we all? There are passions I’m still pursuing, ways that I want to engage with life that I continue to work on. It doesn’t come from a place of dissatisfaction, but rather a place of curiosity. My authentic self is coming out slowly, but it takes curiosity to see the places someone else’s definition of how my life should be is what guided me.
Back to contentment. Yes, I’m content. Yes, I’m curious. There is room for both. What there is not room for is complacency. Life’s changing too quickly for that. Authenticity requires the curiosity. Peace comes from contentment. I hope you find both in your life today my brave friends.