That thing called contentment

Contentment is a strange thing. It is something that a lot of people desire, and a lot of
advertisements promise. Equally, it seems as if –advertisements in particular- discourage us from reaching this thing called contentment.

“Don’t be content with what you have. You need this other thing so that you can be…. You need to be richer, slimmer, prettier, more muscly, less this or that or the other… so that THEN you can be content!” “Oh you are not content yet?! Do this/buy that and you will be!” (I am clearly not in marketing as you can tell :D)

It is promising contentment at the end of some changes, as it is creating discontentment with the current reality. But surely if contentment was the goal, all one would need to do is not change anything?!

These thoughts of mine were inspired by reading a post on motherhood. It was something along the lines of women who are stay-at-home mums being seen as “not working”, and laying out clear how ridiculous this idea is by showing their daily schedules of taking care of children and what that involves.

This article was to leave the reader in awe of what mothers do every day for their families, as well as praise these busy and dedicated women.Now, please do not get me wrong. I am all for these sorts of eye-opening posts, and if you are at all active on any social media, you too will stumble across them time after time. However, what it did spark in me was some thinking around contentment.

I was wondering whether reading this, and if I was a stay-at-home mum, would this little article cause me to be more contented? How much is contentment due to outward affirmation of my circumstances and how much of it is indeed an inward attitude already needing to be present.

If I was a mother who was deeply dissatisfied every day due to struggling to keep on top of the kids’ attitudes and needs and the lack of time to myself, muddled in the mountains of house-work and a lack of sleep…would the article cause me contentment? No, I don’t think it would for me. Would it provide some temporary encouragement? Yes probably, but eventually I would be heading back again to where I came from: being discontent with my situation!

child's breath shutterstock

If I was generally content with life and happy to be with my children despite their demanding attitudes and needs, despite a lack of time to myself and all the housework, but if I just had a bad day and read the article, it would probably remind me of different days to come. It would remind me of the value of what I am doing and point me towards my own inner contentment.

Based on this thinking, I am led to wonder whether contentment is and is much more of a heart-attitude than a circumstantial feeling. This in turn leads me to think that not the circumstances are the decisive factor of whether I am content (nor is that new car, that new house, that new –whatever-) . Instead, contentment needs to sit a lot deeper than a hinged on temporary boost. My challenge to you and me is to think whether we are content with our lives in or despite our circumstances, and if we are not, what will we do about it?

I personally have come to the conclusion that contentment sits deeper than an outward
encouragement, and I also believe that it can be learned as it becomes part of our daily lives. I wonder how much of it lies with addressing deeper questions such as “Why am I here?”  and “What is my purpose in

life?”. Have you spent time to think this through? And if not, why not?

Antonia