I have found such joy in the simple things;
A plain, clean room, a nut-brown loaf of bread,
A cup of milk, a kettle as it sings,
The shelter of a roof above my head,
And in a leaf-laced square along the floor,
Where yellow sunlight glimmers through the door.
I have found such joy in things that fill
My quiet days: a curtain’s blowing grace,
A potted plant upon my window sill,
A rose, fresh-cut and placed within a vase;
A table cleared, a lamp beside a chair,
And books I long have loved beside me there.
Oh, I have found such joys I wish I might
Tell every woman who goes seeking far
For some elusive, feverish delight,
That very close to home the great joys are:
The elemental things-old as the race,
Yet never, through the ages, commonplace.
~Grace Noll Crowell
Regularly I have clients approach me about anxiety, agitation, how they are searching. They are looking for happiness, positivity, joy, etc…but the one word they never use is contentment. If we were looking at a sliding scale, as Tim Ferriss discusses, the opposite of happiness is boredom. I disagree, I think the opposite of happiness is indecision. Neither places can a person live in at all times, because the greatest tool being overlooked is contentment. And its contentment that we as a society are in constant battle with. The closest anyone has come to labeling contentment to me has been by using the word ‘peace’.
Contentment is both the gateway and the destination.
The Paradox of Choice, is when a person is presented with so many options, they are less satisfied with the choice they do make because they are not sure the choice they made was the best one. With so many options out there, how do you know you made the best choice? In truth, you don’t. As the internet brings the world closer together, people doubt many of their decisions: Did I buy the best vacuum? Did I pick the best thing on the menu at the Cheesecake Factory? What to watch on Netflix? Am I with the right person?
Please don’t get me wrong, Im not asking you to consider ‘settling’ for the first person/job/vacuum that comes your way. Nor am I asking you to seek happiness within an unhealthy environment. I’m suggesting you pause. Just stop, before you see something you ‘need’, before you see someone who might be your soulmate, and just take a look at the place you’re in.
In this moment, can you find contentment if nothing changed? Not your job, not your home or your relationship status? Can you be ok within this moment if everything froze?
Now, the expectation of everything staying the way it is, isn’t realistic. We are forward moving creatures on a planet that doesn’t stop moving. So freezing can only be an idea as opposed to the reality. But the suggestion of it, the pause it creates in you to consider. That’s the moment I want you to think about.
If you’re chewing on the idea of contentment in this moment with some peace, allow yourself to come back to this question when you feel chaos coming back into your life.
If you’re feeling a twinge of, ‘I’ll be ok, but this one thing has to happen first’ Im going to ask you to consider if it doesn’t and how you will respond to the alternative. Again, considering contentment.
If the idea of nothing changing sends you into a panic, grab a pen a paper and begin to write down those fear-zones. Write them all down, but keep them in the present. If you find your language jumping into the future, dial it back to now. What if you stay in the same house, same job, same car, etc… And with each area, can you focus on each item and find some contentment within each of those spaces?
Finally, look at yourself. Just as you are. Don’t focus on places in the body that are uncomfortable, but look at you as a whole. Can you look at yourself without needing to change anything? Notice when the language moves into the future, or into the past, you’ve begun to compare. Can you keep the internal dialogue present?
Loving yourself implies surrounding yourself with boastful energy, while contentment implies settling. If you truly look at what those phrases are asking of you, they are asking for you to take away comparison. They are asking you to remove your inner ‘mean girl’ and find the person you are when nobody’s looking.
Looking for some more ways to work on self-love, acceptance and contentment? Join us at the studio Sunday, November 5th as we host Amber Karnes of Body Positive Yoga, as she leads the ‘Radical Self-Acceptance Workshop’. Sign up at www.mainstreetyoga.com/workshops.