Contentment is a funny thing. Some may see it as reaching a point where you don't push yourself any further and accepting the status quo. Others see it as the ultimate objective of their life. We all, at some level, have that whole "grass is greener over there" thought cross our minds, or "if I only had this, then I'd be happy." Some spend their entire lives trying everything imaginable to find contentment or happiness. Inventors create gadgets, authors write books, musicians sing songs, and motivational speakers make big money to convince you that where you are and what you have are not enough, and that you need something else. Shoot, it's even the first sin of mankind listed in the Bible. God gave Adam and Eve this beautiful and perfect garden and tells them that they can have the run of the place, but to just stay away from this one tree. The devil approaches them and says to Eve - you can be even better! Just eat the fruit from that one tree and you can know and understand even more!!! And she bought into it.
If you have ever had a life-threatening encounter, it has a way of reshaping your thoughts and ambitions. Mine happened a couple of years ago, and I am not the same man today that I was with then. I now have four priorities in my life:
They all work together to bring contentment to my life. I'm very driven. I am extremely competitive. I like to win. For me, contentment is not a "I've done enough" mindset. It's a temporary abbreviation where I can feel good about picking it up from there tomorrow. There are a few things that I try to do each day, not always successfully, that help me get to that place though. Here are a few that might be helpful to you as well:
- Schedule time to accomplish the most important, time-critical issues. I live by my calendar. During a business day, I put everything on my calendar and make sure to address those things that absolutely must get done that day. The only way that thing gets bumped is if there is a severe emergency.
- Build relationships with those around me. For the most part, this impacts my co-workers because I spend a lot of time with them throughout a normal day, but it carries over to friends, family, and new people that I meet outside of work as well. Just a few minutes of meaningful conversation with someone can go a long way! Do it every day - even multiple times per day.
- Do something unexpectedly nice for someone each day. Let me warn you - you may not get a thank you. The other person may completely blow it off. You may not get any credit from anyone else. I do this one a lot and it brings me joy to give a gift, or surprise someone, or sacrifice of myself to help another person. But, I'll also admit that sometimes I question why I'm doing it because people will take me for granted or even complain that they would have preferred something else. Understand that this one is to benefit YOU and create a mindset in you of always considering others above yourself, then it helps to make it tolerable when the reaction is not what you hoped for.
- Tell someone else that you care about them. Again, I went through a life threatening time in my life, and I now make it a priority to always tell my family, friends, and people who matter greatly to me that I love them. I don't want there to be any doubt where they stand in my mind. Maybe it's weird, but I sometimes consider that this conversation might be the last that I ever have with them.
- In your work, do more than what is expected. I actually consider what I think most people will do in most business situations, and then I bump it up a level. I've found that it usually doesn't take that much more time or effort to take that additional step - but the payoffs can be huge!
- Laugh. Have some fun. Play a joke. Tell a story. But make it a point to laugh every single day - no matter what your circumstance. The day I was diagnosed with cancer, I still joked with other people and helped them (and myself) to relax a bit in the moment and not bathe in desperation or despair.
- Exercise. Do what you can and then a step more. I've had many days when I have worked 20 hours. Those can be stressful times for sure. But by taking a little while and going for a walk or a run or playing some basketball or golf, it helps to reduce stress and anxiety from me. There were days a couple of years ago when I physically could not walk from my bedroom to my living room, so I do not take my health for granted now. Enjoy life and go experience it fully! I'll be running my 3rd 5K in the past year next weekend.
- Be thankful. Think of the ways that you are blessed. I have found that no matter where I am or what condition I'm in, someone else has it tougher. Think of people who have invested in your life or taught you something. be thankful for where you are at that very moment.
Those work for me. I have big plans and lots of things that I want to accomplish in life. I am rarely satisfied, but I can be content with where I am today so that I can pick up my higher pursuits again tomorrow.