Are you wondering how to be content with what you have?
For many people, linking our self-worth and happiness to our possessions and accomplishments is an established way of thinking that has been ingrained into us.
Our society and culture encourage this mindset, and our parents raised many of us to think this way.
We were taught to always strive for more.
More money, more “stuff,” and more accomplishments.
It requires a conscious effort to be a contented person.
- What Does It Mean to Be Contented?
- Why Is It So Hard to Be Content with Life?
- Be Content with What You Have: 13 Ways to Find Contentment and Peace with Your Life
- 1. Spend less time on social media.
- 2. Incorporate more gratitude into your life.
- 3. Cultivate a positive inner circle of people.
- 4. Stop worrying about what other people think of you (the good and the bad).
- 5. Practice stringent self-care.
- 6. Stop buying stuff you don’t need.
- 7. Embrace the joy of simple, free pleasures and activities.
- 8. Practice patience.
- 9. Show compassion to others.
- 10. Avoid playing the comparison game.
- 11. Believe in something bigger than yourself.
- 12. Become more mindful and present.
- 13. Allow yourself to experience awe.
- Final Thoughts
What Does It Mean to Be Contented?
What does being content mean? Contentment is the feeling we have when we are satisfied with what we possess and have accomplished.
The difference between being content and being happy is subtle, but it’s essential to understand how these two feelings differ.
When you’re more content, you will find that happiness is a natural result. Alternatively, a happy person is not always content.
- Contentment gives us a more profound feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment.
- Being content is a long-term feeling.
- Contentment allows you to focus on what truly matters to you in your life.
- When you’re content, you find yourself doing fewer inconsequential activities.
- If you learn how to be content with what you have, you will naturally be more mindful.
- Contentment breeds inner peace in a way that the “more” culture fails.
- A person who is content with what they have usually has more compassion for other human beings.
A contented person enjoys stronger relationships, a more positive outlook on life, and an increased understanding of what truly matters in their life.
Why Is It So Hard to Be Content with Life?
Being content doesn’t come naturally to us. Biologically, we are engineered always to seek more, whether the “more” is physical possessions, money, accomplishments, or status.
There are a few reasons we struggle with being content.
- We have too many choices available to us. Choice overwhelm is very real, and the more aware we are of what’s out there, the more we are inclined to be discontent with what we have.
- Human beings tend to hold onto negativity. Toxic thinking can weigh us down. Moreover, holding on to resentment, envy, and anger creep into our contentment.
- We live in a comparison culture that constantly bombards us with how we compare (or don’t compare) to other people. Social media has contributed to this cause of discontentment.
- Chemically, our bodies and brains thrive on dopamine, the rewards chemical in the brain. Unfortunately, the reward chemical suffers from the law of diminishing returns. The more dopamine we stimulate, the more we need to be satisfied.
- Our society encourages us to build our self-worth and satisfaction around material possessions, wealth, and accomplishments.
- We tend to work toward success instead of working toward fulfillment and satisfaction.
- We live in a capitalistic society that is bent on achievement and profit.
Re-centering and focusing on what’s really important can make you a more contented person.
Be Content with What You Have: 13 Ways to Find Contentment and Peace with Your Life
Would you like a life of contentment rather than one of longing and struggle? There are many science-backed strategies to help you foster feelings of contentment and inner peace.
1. Spend less time on social media.
Social media has contributed a lot of great things to humanity. People who were previously shut off from society can connect with others in ways they never could before. Social media is also a great way to educate yourself about things that interest you.
However, one problem with social media is that it encourages comparisons. Researchers have concluded that when people stay off of social media, they tend to be more content and more satisfied with their own lives.
Everyone puts their best face forward on social media, and most people don’t share their failures or mistakes. The fact is, no one’s life is perfect, and everyone has their own inner struggles.
2. Incorporate more gratitude into your life.
Being grateful for what you have takes practice. Take some deep breaths and quiet your mind. While you’re doing that, look around you and take note of what you’re grateful for.
Many of us are guilty of taking the true blessings in our lives for granted. If we have physical health, a roof over our heads, and all of the food we need, we are far ahead of much of the world’s population.
Here are some ways to actively practice gratitude.
- Be appreciative of anything positive that comes your way.
- Volunteer to help others.
- Be mindful as much as possible.
- Let other people know that you’re grateful for their impact on your life.
Studies show that writing down your gratitude can help you fully appreciate the good things in your life. You can use your journal to do this. One study even shows that writing down your gratitude can actually change your brain.
3. Cultivate a positive inner circle of people.
It’s not breaking news that when we’re around negative people, their negativity rubs off on us. The problem is that it’s not always easy to put all negative people out of our lives.
For example, if we have negative family members, removing them from our circle can be challenging or impossible.
However, if you can remove negative people from your inner circle, you’ll find that you make room for positivity, gratitude, and contentment.
If you have family members who drag you down emotionally, work toward setting boundaries and placing distance between you and them when possible.
4. Stop worrying about what other people think of you (the good and the bad).
Have you noticed that humans spend a lot of time worrying about what other people think of us? We also work hard to impress others with our accomplishments and material things.
Ask yourself how much time you truly spend contemplating someone else’s actions. Your answer is that you probably don’t put a lot of time into thinking about what other people are doing. People don’t think about others as much as we believe they do.
If you spend time and energy trying to impress someone else, you’re taking energy away from your own inner peace development. Accept yourself as you are, and don’t waste time and thinking about what other people think of you.
5. Practice stringent self-care.
One of the easiest ways to find contentment is to give yourself a lot of love and care. Practicing self-care can feel selfish and indulgent. Some people equate self-care with making themselves look better, like working out, having cosmetic procedures, and investing in clothing meant to impress.
You should practice self-care for yourself, not to impress others. Of course, if you look your best, you’ll feel better about yourself, which adds to your contentment. But working on your inner self is equally important.
Here are some simple ways to practice better self-care.
- Get into nature. Take a walk outside or sit on your patio to experience the outdoors.
- Meditate. Meditation helps you to go inward and work on your true self.
- Take a hot bath. Soaking in a tube feels good, but it also makes you appreciative of simple things like hot water and bath products, which many people in the developing world don’t have.
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6. Stop buying stuff you don’t need.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that bombards us with advertisements for stuff that we really don’t need.
Also, when we see our friends buying nice things, driving expensive cars, or wearing designer clothing, we tend to think that we have to keep up with them.
Have there been times that you bought something that you thought you needed but could have lived without?
Did you feel more content after buying it? That air fryer you just had to have probably added some value to your life, but is this the case with everything you buy?
Consider having a “no-buy week” every month. During this week, avoid buying anything except necessities such as food. You may find that you actually feel more content when you take the focus off of buying stuff.
7. Embrace the joy of simple, free pleasures and activities.
Simple pleasures and simple things may not make you wealthy or successful. However, taking pleasure in simple things is the key to true contentment.
What are some simple pleasures? How about some of these:
- Seeing a child’s smile
- Smelling a rose
- The feel of raindrops (or snowflakes) on your face
- That first sip of coffee in the morning
- A hug from someone you love
- Breathing fresh air
- Walking your dog
- A morning walk or run
These are all simple things that don’t cost much (if anything), but when you really take the time to be present and fully experience them, your contentment will grow.
8. Practice patience.
Most of us spend a lot of time “hurrying up” to get to the next thing in life. It’s challenging to be patient and present because our society encourages busyness. However, you will be more content when you can stop rushing and be patient.
Have you ever been stuck in traffic? There are a few things more frustrating, especially if you’re going to be late to work. However, getting upset isn’t going to get you there any faster.
Being patient with yourself is also important. If you’re trying to learn something new, be patient with yourself and allow yourself time to process things.
9. Show compassion to others.
It’s not always easy to show compassion in the negative and competitive world in which we live. However, focusing on compassion starts with you.
When you show yourself love and compassion, it’s easier to make the pivot to being more compassionate to other people. Be compassionate with yourself by allowing yourself downtime, practicing kindness with yourself, and doing things you enjoy.
To show compassion to others, you can try any of these things.
- Volunteer at a homeless shelter.
- Visit older adults in nursing homes.
- Help out the workers at animal shelters.
- Donate books and other items to organizations that need them.
- Give blood.
- Bake cakes or cookies for your neighbors.
- Place uplifting bookmarks in library books.
- Install a bird feeder outside your window.
10. Avoid playing the comparison game.
There’s a saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Truer words have rarely been spoken.
Think about times you’ve compared yourself to others. Perhaps you have a sibling who is better looking or more accomplished than you are. Or maybe your co-workers seem to be more talented than you.
The problem with comparison is that if you can somehow get what these other people have, there is no guarantee you’ll be more content.
Also, remember that as much as you compare yourself to them, they’re probably also comparing themselves to you. It’s likely that you have traits that they wish they had.
11. Believe in something bigger than yourself.
NASA recently shared some photos they took with the James Webb Space Telescope. The images revealed thousands of vast galaxies in detail that had never before been seen.
These photos have given us a deeper glimpse into a universe impossible for us to imagine fully. The universe is huge, and seeing these photos can make us feel humble and smaller.
Whatever your faith, if you can remember that there are things larger than yourself every day, you’ll find that your problems aren’t really that significant in the great scheme of things. Commit to your beliefs and values and find contentment within them.
12. Become more mindful and present.
Most of us have become increasingly aware of mindfulness, and it’s because our society doesn’t encourage the practice of being present.
We live with constant distractions, and it can be challenging to tune them out and focus on mindfulness. People are busier than ever, and that won’t change anytime soon. What you can do is focus on finding mindful moments throughout the day.
Many people spend a lot of time focusing on the future and the past without enjoying the moment. This is natural, but a conscious effort to be mindful and present is a critical key to contentment.
13. Allow yourself to experience awe.
Many of us have developed an immunity to awe.
The fact is that we live in a world that constantly bombards us with everything imaginable. Also, because of technological and societal advancements, we can experience nearly anything our hearts desire.
All of this can be amazing because we get to experience more than any generation before us. However, there is a downside to these experiences that largely goes unspoken. Constant exposure to so much stimulation has made us jaded.
If you can step back and truly appreciate the small and beautiful things around you, you can move closer to contentment. Stop and really notice the sunset, a bird feeding outside your window, and the color of the grass.
Is being content important to you? If you’re ready to become a contented person, choose an item on this list and focus on it for the next few weeks or months.
Keep a journal to track your levels of contentment and inner peace. You may find yourself happier with life than you’ve ever been.