How to Find Contentment on a Daily Basis
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. - Philippians 4:11 NIV
Last week we talked about the anxiety-filled “what ifs”. Now let’s look into “what ifs” sister, “if only.” While what if is rooted in fear, if only’s foundation is discontentment.
I remember the years leading up to meeting my husband like they were yesterday. I had a fun job, worked with amazing people, spent time with incredible friends who always had me laughing, and lived within a mile of some of my closest family members. From the outside looking in, you might even say I was happy. But that couldn’t be further from my truth.
Happiness from my viewpoint only included a husband. While God had blessed me with more than I could’ve ever imagined, I had a fixed viewpoint of what I wanted and wasn’t willing to accept anything less. What’s more, I was telling God I was content in the hopes I could trick him into sending someone into my life sooner. But with my actions and my emotions, I was saying, “Things are good, but…..”
It wasn’t until years later when I married my husband that I realized the “if only” perspective didn’t go away when we said, “I do.” The mindset only grew worse. I wanted desperately to be settled but found myself following up every blessing or good thing in my mind with another requirement for my contentment.
“If only he’d affirm me the way I do him. If only he’d plan more date nights. If only he’d pursue me the way he used to.” As the list grew longer, my perspective only worsened. My discontentment became my gateway drug to resentment, loneliness, and bitterness, only pulling me farther from my husband and my joy.
What was I missing? What could I do differently to beat the if only disease and find joy? I needed to cultivate gratitude.
Paul’s letter in Philippians chapter 4 is very specific about his contentment. He wasn’t finding peace from God in only the good or satisfying situations. He was seeking and finding the good when he was hungry, sitting in jail and in danger. He was thinking about things that were excellent and praiseworthy. His gratitude and the deepening relationship he had with God resulted in his contentment.
Over the past few months, I’ve made a point to start my day with gratitude right off the bat and it’s made a massive difference in my mood and in my marriage. By taking my eyes off my circumstances and lifting them up to the Lord in thanksgiving, I’m finding joyful contentment on a more consistent basis. And I found the more joy I have, the more it spreads to my environment, resulting in even MORE joy.
I once had a mentor tell me that contentment is a moving target. While that statement encourages me to not lose hope when I have down times directly following great ones, I have to add to it. Contentment may be a moving target, but it’s a target we should wake up and aim for every day. Even when we miss the bullseye, we’re creating the muscle memory to seek it no matter what our circumstances look like.
Challenge: Create a practice of cultivating gratitude every day. Set aside 10 minutes to journal what you’re grateful for every morning, and put a reminder on your phone to reflect on each day’s goodness every night.