I am very sentimental and like to keep things just in case I might need them in the future. But over the summer break, my wife and I joined the decluttering phenomenon that is sweeping the world. After the job was completed, I looked at the pile of stuff destined for the Sallies, and I thought, why did I ever think I needed all that?
This got me pondering about being content with what we have, and perhaps being more considered when purchasing things.
So, I wonder, what is the secret of being content with my lot?
I’m sure it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t set goals, and just drift through life. But it does imply that I can stop striving to get more and more stuff – a bigger house, a faster, flasher car, an exciting holiday, or moving up society’s ladder?
I relish having goals to aim for. I don’t seek them because I am not contented, I chase them because I love a challenge. When Sir Edmund Hillary was talking about goals, he said that it wasn’t the mountain that we conquer but ourselves. Goals enable me to face challenges and weaknesses in myself and then overcome them, to gain a sense of achievement.
Richard Swenson, in his book A Minute of Margin suggests that contentment is the freedom that comes when prosperity or poverty do not matter – to accept what we have and to want but little.
I think there are some useful attitudes to adopt:
- Being grateful. When we start to feel discontented, think about all the good things in our life. Stop comparing ourselves to others – then the focus is on what we do have, rather than what we don’t.
- Trust. Whether we believe God is in control is a personal matter. However, I’m sure contentment comes from knowing that nothing happens by chance.
- Focus. Let’s make sure that the things that are important are not all physical things, but real things: Family. Friends. Faith.
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