I’ve realized that whatever I engage with is either going to give me something, or take something away from me. So I’ve figured that for the sake of my wellbeing, it’s worth paying some attention to what takes the stuffing out of me, and what brings me to contentment and calm.
If you find yourself feeling more down than up, then what are you engaging with?
If I want to, not only feel, but BE contented, then I can’t let chance decide that for me. Instead I’m a lot more mindful now of what can drive me to feel low, and what can keep me steady.
Here are four ways to bring yourself into contentment.
- Don’t engage with Critical Crud.
I could have used a much stronger word there, but that wouldn’t have been very polite.
The critical stuff is the shaming, judgmental, better than you crud that comes at us from all angles. The glossy magazines, the billboard advertisements, the judgmental group at work, the better than you attitude of a social crowd.
You don’t need that rubbish in your life, so step away from it. Really. Life is short, and aren’t we all just muddling along trying to do the best we can? If this is the stuff that surrounds you, then you may also be judging others and critical of them too. I’m really talking about the smaller stuff here. Not the ethical dilemmas of the world. It’s so easy to fall into, but it doesn’t give you anything back. Feeling criticized or judging others is going to rob you of something important. It never feels good, so learn to leave it out.
- Connect to Something Bigger.
Something bigger than you, that is. I know it’s difficult to live in a human body, and wouldn’t we all like to find the off switch sometimes? But there’s more to life than your body, and yes, even your thoughts, feelings and emotions. Sometimes I feel we can get trapped in a whirr of self-thoughts and forget the huge world out there, right under our feet. And what I figured stops me thinking “me, me, me”, is to become a nerd. Yup. I’m a bit of a nature nerd. Unabashedly so in fact. Notebooks, guidebooks, binoculars – the works. It allows me to connect with the amazing natural world and takes me out of myself. And that is a relief. Others connect to a cultural expression through creative arts like paintings, theatre, dance, poetry. Read books. Be inspired. Get out there, and live life. It certainly fosters that steady foundation of contentment inside you that is going to heed you well on the days when you have potential to fall down into gloom.
- Time Wasting – or Life Wasting?
As much of an entertaining thrill clicking on endless links on the web is, it never feels totally real to me. Click, click, click. That’s not what life it about. This is where mindfulness can save your butt. I’m never going to stop browsing the web, but I’ve identified it as one of those things that makes me feel less alive. What makes me feel alive is engaging in the above ‘Something Bigger’ – but also something small. Using your hands in creative endeavours is innately human and completely satisfying. To create and to make is a part of the human experience. To look down at your hands and work away at a drawing, a knitted hat, or a whittled wooden spoon gives you something back. It feels empowering and joyous to bring about something into existence. And sometimes I create, and watch stuff on TV at the same time. But that takes the ‘alive’ edge off. If you fall into creative flow, and really see each line appearing on paper and each piece of wood shaving curling right in front of you, it wakes up something inside you. An unique experience just for you.
- Gratitude Equals Super Contentment.
Finally I come to gratitude. Nothing can make me feel so content, so lucky, so blessed and so alive than to be grateful. You can practice it wherever you are and at any time. Whatever struggles are going on for you, if you cultivate the life affirming habit of seeking what you can be grateful for, life will seem a lot bigger, kinder, wilder and wonderful. If you engage with the dull self-talk of “life is so bleurgh,” then you will see life just so. However you see your life – is however you’ve chosen to see it. If you want a better life, then open your eyes and see it right in front of you today.
Being mindful means mindful of how we are engaging with our very own lives, and mindful of the fact that we can engage with other stuff that will make us feel so wonderfully content.
What do you find gives you something back in your life? Do you find that when you engage in certain behaviours, slowly you feel robbed of something important?