Happiness and contentment are popular topics nowadays. We are generally an unhappy society, so this question of what helps us to be happy or satisfies us is important. Also important is the question of what makes us so UNhappy (probably a topic for another blog post).
I’ve learned over the years, with all the ups and downs, that everyone’s situation is different. In addition, each of us has our own barometer and expectations from life. Those factors ultimately affect how we feel each day and our level of contentment in our lives.
What follows in this post is not some crazy philosophical breakthrough; it’s a story of how I’ve come to experience contentment and some realizations I’ve made along the way. I believe that hearing each other’s stories not only gives us a sense of hope and “oh, it’s not just me”, but also inspires us to find peace in knowing that we aren’t alone and that it is possible to attain the contentment and happiness that we seek.
A Story From My Own Life
I have had a ton of first dates, failed dates, weird situationships, and disappointments. I’ve always taken dating breaks at random intervals to regain my sanity, re-balance myself, and find some perspective. However, after each interval, I feel like I need to get back out and try again because without trying, how do you find your person, right?
A couple of years ago, I was on an extended dating break, and there was no sign of it dissipating. Usually, I would get restless and start (swiping), but this time I had zero desire to do so. I realized that I was perfectly content with where I was for the first time in a long time. I was content with work; happy with friends and family; I had a routine down that kept me busy, and I was traveling all over the world like a crazy person. I feared I’d lose this feeling if I started dating again.
So What Does True Contentment Feel Like?
Freeing. I do what I want when I want, and how I want to.
I’m alone most of the time, but I’m not lonely. I miss my friends and get bored on the occasional Friday night, but then I’m also perfectly happy hanging out by myself.
On that note, I’m not afraid to be by myself. There are plenty of things to do alone, that I highly recommend. I go out to eat, out to the movies, go shopping, visit the gym, and take walks, all on my own. I don’t need another person to talk to, and if I decide I want to talk, I hit up some of my besties on speed dial. Or my Mom, she could talk until the end of time.
There’s no more FOMO (fear of missing out). I used to worry that I’m missing out on some opportunity or someone special if I’m not dating. That the right guy was just a date away.
I no longer feel that way. I don’t have the anxiety because I’m “not trying.” I actually have JOMO now (joy of missing out).
How Did I Here?
At that time, I had just gotten out of dating two guys (one after the other, not at the same time), both situations were pretty terrible, and it got to where I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t handle wasting so much time on people who didn’t care about me and didn’t treat me well.
At the same time, the idea that someone was “a date away” became silly. I believe in fate, and I believe in destiny. Everything that has happened in my life has happened for a reason. I realized that if I had ended up with some of the guys that I thought were “the one,” I wouldn’t be where I am today in my career, nor would I have the freedom to pursue the goals I’m currently mapping out for myself.
Another thing: somewhere along the way, I stopped doing things for the sake of a relationship and started doing them to better myself.
I Consciously Decided To Be Selfish
How? I only spend my time with people I want to be with or those that truly interest me. I protect my time to go to the gym (versus sacrificing it for a date); I hoard my “me” time like it’s a pot of gold. I’m selfish with the permission I give myself to go do the things I want to do, no questions asked.
I stopped “putting myself out there” for the sake of meeting people and started to challenge myself out of my comfort zone to help myself grow in some way or gain a new skill.
Funnily enough, since I’ve gained this contentment, I’ve had friends coming out of the woodwork to set me up with guys they know. I’ve also met people organically that I’ve genuinely liked. Nothing concrete has materialized yet in regards to a relationship, but it’s gratifying to know that by “not trying,” I’m still able to meet interesting, fun people; that I don’t need to pursue online dating or dating of any kind; I don’t need to worry about “putting myself out there,” because by focusing on me, trying new things, and challenging myself I’m already out there.
I’m content knowing that I can be me, do me, and work on me…that someday the pieces will fall into place and that when the time comes, I’ll be ready for whatever is meant for me.
Where Contentment Comes From
To start back at the beginning with a contentment definition:
a state of happiness and satisfaction.
So basically, to be content is a mindset. Again, this differs for everyone because we each have different things that bring us happiness. However, there are some underlying commonalities in those people that can find contentment.
- Being thankful for all that you have
- Taking care of yourself
- Being charitable
- Finding your purpose and pursuing it (or passion, or interests)
- You don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s.
To take it a step further, you must like who you are and who you’re becoming. It’s knowing deep down that you’re working on yourself, trying your best, and are practicing integrity. It’s the knowledge that you’re not letting yourself get bogged down by things you can’t control. I think this is true of your personal life, work life, and other aspects that take up your time.
Looking back on my dating stories as above and personal and work experiences, I’ve also realized that my trying too hard was a major contributor to my misery. Everything shifted by letting go, focusing, and making myself a priority. When you’re taking care of number one, you put yourself in the best position to receive and accept good things. If those things don’t come, you’re not bogged down or disappointed because you aren’t dependent on those things for happiness.
Bringing It Home
So, take care of yourself; surround yourself with people you actually want to be with (or make time to be by yourself if that’s what you want); remove yourself from situations that don’t serve you well, and continue those pursuits that interest you and help you grow.
On your journey, don’t forget to take the time to practice gratitude and appreciate everything that you have (many people don’t!). If you always want what you don’t have, you’ll put yourself back to a place of unhappiness. If I always thought about my lack of a life partner, I would be in a constant state of misery; don’t get me wrong, the comparisons and the wishing does creep up, but when that happens, I make a conscious effort to take a step back and remind myself of my goals, purpose and everything I’ve got.