Happiness and contentment are popular topics nowadays I feel. We are generally an unhappy society, and so this question of what helps us to be happy, or satisfies us, is important. Also important is the question of what is making us so UNhappy (probably a topic for another blog post).
What I’ve learned over the years, with all the ups and downs and nonsense I’ve seen and dealt with is that everyone’s situation is so different. In addition, each of us has our own barometer and our own expectations from life. Those factors affect ultimately 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 a long 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
For anyone new to this site, I’m single, have had a ton of first dates, failed dates, weird situationships, and disappointments. I’ve always taken breaks at random intervals in order to regain my sanity, re-balance myself, and find some perspective. However, after each interval, I end up feeling like I need to get back out and try again, because without trying how do you find your person, right? 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 for the first time in a loong time, I was perfectly content with where I was. I was content with work; I was 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. My fear was that if I started dating again, I’d lose this feeling.
So What Does True Contentment Feel Like?
Freeing. I do what I want, when I want, and how I want to.
I’m alone the majority of the time, but I’m not lonely. I miss my friends, and I do 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’s plenty of things to do alone, that I highly recommend. I go out to eat, out to the movies, go shopping, visit the gym, take walks, all on my own. I don’t need another person to talk to, and if I decide I do want to talk, then 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 be worried 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) hehehe.
How did I get to this point?
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 for the sake of bettering myself.
I consciously decided to become selfish
How am I selfish? 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 putting myself out there for the sake of challenging 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 some day 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, I think this differs for everyone because each have different things that bring us happiness. However, I think there are some underlying commonalities in those people that are able to 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, I’ll also add that you have to 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. Its 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 and work life, and any other aspect that takes 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. By letting go and focusing on myself, and making myself a priority, everything shifted. When you’re taking care of number one, you put yourself in the best position to receive and accept good things; and, 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’re always wanting what you don’t have, you’ll put yourself back to a place of unhappiness. If I always thought about my lack of 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.
What are your thoughts on finding contentment? Share your comments and thoughts below!
Sanjana is a physician anesthesiologist, avid traveler, and entrepreneur. She founded The Female Professional in order to give women a voice, a community, and provide resources to help them overcome hurdles and achieve success. With her experiences as a physician, as a CEO of a startup, and as a writer, she understands the struggles and frustrations that women face. She also understands what it takes to move past those things and come out on top. Through this platform, Sanjana aims to empower women to be their best, authentic, selves, achieve work/life balance, and live life to the fullest.