by Sylvia Gaston
With greater access to other people’s lives through social media, it’s very easy to fall into the bad habit of playing the “comparison game”. Sadly, in this game, there are no winners.
If you have children, you’ve seen that they also compare themselves and what they have (or don’t have) with those around them. As a mom of high schoolers who are neck-deep in the observation of their peers’ lives, I realize how hard it can be to instill the value of contentment into your family’s life.
But, comparisons always leave us wanting more. And discontented is a horrible way to go through daily life. It can lead to depression, stress, and a general ugly attitude.
All of us have less than others. All of us have more than others. Do you tend to focus on what you don’t have rather than feel grateful and content for what you do have? When we become so focused on where our life falls short, we miss the wonderfulness of how great our life actually is.
Contentment is defined as a state of happiness and appreciation.
Contentment. You have to want it! You have to fight for it!
Developing a discipline of contentment is easier said than done – but it is possible. Just as we work out our bodies, we can learn to work out our minds. The battle begins there.
We can have great power over our lives if we learn to stay in control of our thoughts and actions. There is a great book about this called, “Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyer.
Here are just 2 suggestions to begin your journey on the road to contentment:
1. Trade in grumbling and complaining for thankfulness and appreciation:
Let’s face it, some of us are just in the habit of, or even addicted to, whining and complaining. We automatically see the worst in people or situations instead of looking for the best. When you catch yourself doing so, immediately ask yourself, “What is the bright side of this situation (or person)?” Turn your focus there BEFORE you spiral down that negativity tunnel. You will feel better about the situation, about yourself, about life!
2. Focus on and appreciate what you have. The antidote to discontent is thankfulness:
When we focus on what we don’t have, we completely overlook our blessings. I sometimes ask myself how I can possibly complain when I have health, love, a place to live and good food and water. And, yet I do! Tsk, tsk.
I have invented a mental game called “Kodak moments”. I remind myself to look around and take a mental snapshot of what is right in front of me (“click”) – kids who are healthy and have goodness in them, a husband who loves me and works hard, a job where I am valued, and a God who loves me, unconditionally – even when I’m not being very lovable! “Click”, “click”, “click”!
Another thing you can commit to in 2017 is to make an ongoing list of things you are thankful for. This can jumpstart the optimism in your brain and squash some of that Negative Ned (or Nelly) thinking.
God tells us in the Bible that we are to “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you…” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)
Pull out the Bible and find out what God has to say about how we are to live satisfied and fulfilling lives. Or visit a church near you. We were created to be content.