New job, new car, new outfit… It seems we’re never satisfied with what we have right now. Contentment is an elusive emotion, but here’s how to be happy with your life today
How many times have you caught yourself envying a friend’s new car or spent an hour eyeing beautiful, if out of our budget, properties online?
It’s only natural for us to have aspirations, but finding a balance between desire and satisfaction is the secret to happiness. Wanting too much is likely to lead to disappointment and an empty wallet. Even if we were able to buy all that our hearts desired, that brief moment of satisfaction would be unlikely to create a lifetime of pleasure.
RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW
Part of the problem lies in the fact that we tend to live in the future, rather than the present. Living in the moment is important in many aspects of life, but by convincing ourselves that we want what we already have we can save ourselves much heartache about the unattainable.
At the beginning and end of each day, take a moment to think about something you are thankful for, whether it’s having time to sit with your child, or catching up with a friend over coffee. Dwelling on the good stuff is far more satisfying than pining after what’s just out of reach.
WORK THE A-LIST
We are constantly bombarded with messages to tempt us to buy more, succeed professionally and grasp
the next rung of the social ladder. But what if we choose not to do these things?
Thinking about what we really want out of life and then creating a strategy to pursue the things that matter most to us can hugely improve our chances of success. Instead of chasing every dream, we have a clear focus on the goal that we really want to achieve, and a greater ability to take positive steps to reach this.
Try this simple technique to clarify what it is you want to achieve. Write a list of the things that you hope to make happen in your life. Then write a second list for the month ahead – what small steps can you take in the next 30 days to work towards hitting that goal?
Maybe it’s writing the first chapter of a book, making improvements to your home or paying off a credit card? Breaking the task down into bite-sized chunks means you have a greater chance of success.
Strange as it may sound, one of the tactics to achieving what you really want could be to give up what you
A common technique suggested for people who tend to hoard things is to adopt the one in, one out rule. For every item bought, another must be relinquished. If you hanker after something, take a look at your
possessions and get rid of anything you haven’t touched, used or
enjoyed in the last year. Sell or
donate these and create space for the things you really do desire.
Experts also suggest forcing
yourself to wait for the things that you think you want – as you go to buy the latest tech product, tell
yourself to wait a week. If you still have the same level of desire in a week’s time, you know this isn’t an impulse buy and will be truly useful to you.
Similarly, ask yourself if you’re
buying something as it’s what you desire, rather than because it will impress others. After all, no-one else will be paying for it, only you.
We all love a bargain – who hasn’t been drawn in by a BOGOF offer in a supermarket, or tempted to take home those ‘free’ toiletries when staying in a hotel?
But it’s our survival instinct telling us that excess creates security. In actual fact, so long as we have enough for today and tomorrow, we will be fine. Try to discourage yourself from the surplus mentality, and celebrate what you have in your cupboards and drawers before you buy more.
GIVE IT UP
It might sound counter-intuitive, but giving to others can help you to achieve inner contentment. Particularly when times are tough, we have a tendency to hunker down, protect our stores and close ourselves off from the world.
Going out of our way to help others, maybe with a donation to a charity, cooking a meal for friends or helping a neighbour with some repairs makes us feel good about ourselves. That sense of wellbeing can keep us in a far more positive state of mind than worrying about what we don’t have in life. Try it next time you’re feeling low, you could be surprised at the positive feeling it leaves you with.
The journey to contentment could be easier than you think. One of the techniques that can help us to enjoy the moment, feel alive and believe we have everything we need is to self-reward in small doses.
We’re not talking buying that new car that we’ll be painfully paying for over the next three years. Treating yourself to a bag of cherries because they are in season, smell and taste delicious isn’t going to break the bank but will help you to enjoy the summer season.
What’s more, sitting in a park on a sunny afternoon, with a book as you enjoy them must be one of the simplest yet glorious ways to feel that the good life is within our reach.
So, before you embark on a year of material pursuit, think about what you have. Next time you find yourself hankering after the next ‘must-have’ item, remind yourself just how
fortunate you already are.