The previous post gave some guidelines on longevity, marital and otherwise. “We live with contentment,” said John Behar. Did any of you hesitate at that word when you read it? Sounds so simple. Yet, all day yesterday after posting it, I wondered how many of us feel contentment and/or even know what that is?
Does it take becoming a certain age after striving for and achieving certain goals in one’s mind to feel contentment? Or is it a matter of the kind of values that you grow up with or find for yourself that feels like your purpose in life? How many of us when asked what we want to be when we grow up would say, “be contented?” Lest you think I am poking fun at this concept, I am actually doing just the opposite: that is, reflecting about what it takes to be content with one’s life on a daily basis.
Many of us have what we need to live each day: food, shelter and a way to pay our bills. What we THINK about all day long is what may account for an empty hole in our perception of how we are doing: we need more money; we want a better job; we want to re-do the kitchen; we want a new car; we have to have (fill in the blanks.)
I was thinking about the article about the Behars and that my stage in life seems to complement theirs: which is to watch my family grow and to go with the flow. I have discovered that all the nagging things that had to be a certain way actually are made-up ideas in my head and so I sent them packing. When G. forgets or does something that annoys me, I stop myself and say, is it worth it to nag him about it or what difference does it make anyhow? Believe me, it’s taken me a long time to get here. The driving motivation for me to stop “sweating the small stuff” is that I actively want to be contented. I want to acknowledge how lucky we are to be together and to live a life that is fairly simple except for all the cooking forays that I embark on. I knit and read a lot. I like to clean house and clear off the kitchen counters so that our place looks neat. We have avoided the flu so far this winter.
Contentment doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s how much we humans pile onto the idea of contentment that makes it, well, farther out of reach. For example, we can take contentment in little bites: when we have a cup of coffee or tea that tastes so good and hits the spot; or when we listen to a favorite song or piece on the radio while we’re driving in the car. Or when we sit down to a meal with someone we care about and enjoy eating it together. I wonder if feeling grateful has something to do with it? What do you think?