Contentment can be elusive, as we all navigate this fickle human condition. With God, Gratitude, Good friends and Good deeds, we can get close to finding it.
1. God First
As human beings, we tend to pursue bigger, better, faster and stronger. These are good goals, if kept in perspective. We might want a bigger number of customers to keep our business flush. We might strive to run our business better –more efficiently. Accomplishing jobs faster means we have more time for our spouses and families. Being stronger means we can recover from illnesses and injuries sooner, or live longer for our loved ones.
But when we think of these four superlative adjectives, bigger, better, faster, stronger, in regards to ourselves NOT being enough, then we cannot be content.
Time with God first thing in the morning reminds us that we do enough, we have enough, we are enough. His love is unconditional! Goals are good, but so is loving ourselves right where we are.
Studies have shown that whenever we get upset about something or in a general funk, speaking out loud a gratitude list, or writing one down, immediately lifts our mood.
We can begin with the non-leaky roof over our heads, a working vehicle in the garage (Yay! we have a garage)!– plenty of food to eat daily, despite how ridiculously expensive that has become, our healthy children, our spouse, our own health. All of a sudden some petty thing loses its power over our outlook.
I was at sixes and sevens the other day –discontent with certain things in my life which have not panned out the way I’d hoped, and then I had a conversation with a dear friend who told me that when she was younger she had 30 surgeries in 5 years. Whoa. My internal, negative flotsam and jetsam shut up immediately. The extent of my surgeries in 59 years is one, measly C-section. I admire this lady so much for her faith and her “patience in affliction”.
3. Good Friends
We’ve all had the kind of “friends” who are jealous, competitive and untrustworthy with a confidence. The kind of friends we need to do life with are those safe, encouraging, funny ones who have our best interests at heart. These blessed beings can whip us out of our brooding with one funny quip. They can help us with good opinions which are not crammed down our throats in a patronizing way, but dispensed with humility and respect. They are in the trenches with us, always. When we find our tribe, we feel as content as possible, despite all the vagaries this human life dishes out!
“A true friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one has a treasure.” Sirach
4. Good Deeds
When we have an important life purpose, we get more contentment. This can be raising our precious children, tithing to worthy causes around the world, serving meals at the soup kitchen or listening to someone going through a rough time. Any time we are giving our time, talent and treasure, we feel more contentment. We know we are doing all we can on this Earth, and acting as God’s hands and feet. When we are sharing our resources with others, our problems shrink.
I love Apostle Paul’s words: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” Phil. 4:11-13
Tony Dungy, Incredible Football Coach and Believer
Tony Dungy has an acronym that he instills in his players: S. O. U. L.
Selflessness, Ownership, Unity and Larger Purpose. I believe these four values breed contentment. We want to respect others in our lives, as we hope they respect us, for group harmony. We want to own our mistakes and humbly apologize for them. We want to practice God’s unity, not Satan’s division. We all desperately need a larger purpose.
When we realize we are a part of something so much greater than ourselves, we are suffused with contentment. We are all brothers and sisters in the Lord. We are achingly fallible, but we have tools, when things go awry, which help us reunite with each other.
Through the practice of the Four Gs, and Tony Dungy’s S. O. U. L., every single one of us can become more content!