Updated: Sep 7, 2020
“Maybe if I went to the gym more, I could look as good as she does.”
“Maybe if I was less forward, he would really like me.”
“Maybe if I looked as on fire for God as she does, I would be making more of a difference.”
If any of you are like me, you know, human... you’ve had thoughts exactly like what I just vocalized. As a psychology major, I started wondering why we just do this?
Our world is CHARGED on comparison and consequential anxiety, especially if you’re a girl on social media. It can be so hard to stop comparing ourselves in a world of filters and snapchat stories! This culture allows for a severe lack of what I would like to talk to you about today: contentment.
Being content isn’t a hard idea to understand, and yet, I found myself wrestling with it everyday. I know I’m not the only one with this problem. I’m here to explain exactly what contentment actually is and provide you with 3 practical ways to more easily find it in your own lives.
A psychology website called “Mellowed” defines contentment as “a state of being satisfied with what you have, where you are and who you are”. Notice how I didn’t say it had anything to do with anyone else? Being content requires the ability to look inward and focus on your own life as its own entity, uniquely purposed in this world. Which means comparison to other people and their lives will do nothing for finding genuine contentment. Being content involves recognizing worth in things deeper wealth or looks or anything the world promises to provide happiness. In short, being content is recognizing that the grass is perfectly green on the side God gave you.
...But how do we just start doing that??
#1 - Be grateful. Consistently and intentionally grateful. And I don’t mean just shooting up a prayer every time you eat thanking God for the meal. I mean in those circumstances where you just wish things would change, or you just wish you had something someone else does. I started making myself thank God for ten things I was really grateful for everyday I struggled with this. And they weren’t big-deal things. “Thank you for my grandparents that will play scrabble with me when I’m sad.” “Thank you for a house that keeps us all comfortable and safe.”
True contentment is found in practicing this in the most disheartening situations. “God, thank you for taking that person out of my life. It either wasn’t the right time, or you have something better for me.” “God, thank you for making me lean on you because I wasn’t doing that enough.” Not taking the positive for granted will forever be more powerful than accentuating the negative.
#2 - Be a servant. Being a servant doesn’t mean doing something that makes you feel lesser than other people. It means recognizing the spiritual gifts that God gave you, and surrendering to the plan He has to use those in others’ lives. Cultivating these gifts is hard work; but when we grow them to benefit other people, God’s plan prevails and we find much more contentment in fulfilling that plan. More than we ever could from trying to be someone else or have their gifts.
#3 - Be realistic. Recognize that there are things that you can control, and then there are things that you just can’t. You can’t control what she said about you or how he feels about you. You can control taking time to do things that build your own self-esteem and happiness. When you fill yourself up this way, you can control sincerely pouring into others in the ways God gifted you best. You can’t control things that have already happened and left their mark. But you can control learning from them. You can control treating other people better because of past mistakes. Be realistic and forgive yourself for mistakes that should become lessons and make you a better person. A person you can be more content with than the person you were before you grew and learned from that mistake.
I know that sometimes these things are MUCH easier said than done. Let’s look at advice from Paul, who claimed to be content in all circumstances, but who also knew he couldn’t do it alone. He relied on Christ, through whom we can do all things because he strengthens us - Philippians 4:13 :)
Don’t get me wrong, embracing these qualities is a daily, individual choice. But this choice is easier to make when we are promised a GREATER purpose for everything happening in our lives. In Romans 8:28, Paul teaches us that God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. This knowledge should grow within us a deeper desire to love every aspect of the individual life he has given each one of us.
Value yourself and your life for more than comparison, or appearances, or whatever else the world fuels. You are God’s BEAUTIFUL creation, and your contentment is worth fighting for. Be relentlessly grateful, be a powerful servant, and be gracefully realistic. I guarantee that with seeking a little help from God, these goals will allow you to passionately take hold of a life that you deserve to be living in content.
BibleGateway. (n.d.). Retrieved August 30, 2020, from https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians+4:13&version=NIV
BibleGateway. (n.d.). Retrieved August 30, 2020, from https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=romans+8:28&version=NIV
Website, A. M. E. life. L. mellow., Author Mellowed, & mellow., E. life. L. (2019, November 2). How To Be Content: 15 Tips To Find Contentment. Retrieved August 30, 2020, from https://mellowed.com/how-to-be-content/