Confession time: I am constantly thinking about what I’d like to buy next. I have a list of skincare products I want to purchase I’m sure will make me look 20 again. It’s spring so of course, I want a whole new wardrobe full of florals and stripes. Did I mention I want a new car? Not brand new, but larger for sure. I also have a million items saved on Facebook marketplace I’m hoping to eventually buy. Oh, and I want a beach house. (As long as we’re being honest here.) But even amid all these desires, I fight for contentment where I am, with what I have today. Here are a few tips I’ve learned how to be content with what you have right now.
How to Be Content With What You Have Now
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Is it any wonder why we desire so many things? We are being bombarded by advertisements not only in commercials but on social media and even discreetly placed in our favorite TV shows. We need THIS product to look younger. We need THAT product to keep up with our neighbors. Imagine how you’d look driving THIS car around town.
But the truth is we don’t need that shirt, or that vacation, or that house or car or watch or exercise bike. At least we don’t need any of them to truly be content. Sure, they might provide happiness, but that’s temporary, and we want to pursue the lasting stuff here.
So here are 4 things I do whenever the sly devil of discontentment peers around the corner (usually after scrolling Instagram.) This week give them a try yourself and see how your attitude (and desires) change.
1.) Practice gratitude.
Every morning name one thing you are grateful for that day. Every night, name one thing you were grateful for that happened that specific day.
Before I get out of bed each day I thank God for a very specific blessing in my life. And before I fall asleep I do the same but for something that happened to me that day. It might be as huge as getting a job promotion or as little enjoying a new book.
Contentment begins with gratitude for what you already have. And guess what? Once you start naming your blessings you’ll find that they seem to grow too. Also, I love this Contentment Journal I found that guides you on a 90-day find contentment journey.
2. Practice the “Art of Making Do.”
The art of making do is not a no-spending challenge (although I will talk about that next).
It’s a learned skill that teaches us to use what we have instead of going out and buying something new. I can think of no better example than any of those shows about living off the grid or living in the backcountry of Alaska.
Many of them live hours from the nearest store so when they need something they either make it from scratch or repurpose an item they already have for something new.
For inspiration, here are 10 reasons I like owning less stuff!
They are resourceful to the core.
While I’m not suggesting we need to make our own shoes from bark found in our backyard, we too can learn the art of making do.
For instance, say you were going to a wedding in two weeks. Our natural inclination is to buy a brand new dress. But if we told ourselves we HAD to make due I’m pretty sure we could find 2 or 3 dresses that would work perfectly fine already hanging in our closet.
Next time you’re tempted to go out and get something new say, “what can I use that I already own JUST for the next week instead?” I think you’ll be surprised how resourceful you are and a few weeks later, may not even need to buy that thing.
The art of making do is all about re-wiring our brands as to what we really need and what we just want. And when we find out we want (and even need less) it starts to breed contentment with what we already own.
3. Try a no-spending challenge.
A no-spending challenge is similar to the art of making do, just more in an active form. I recently saw a woman on Instagram who was participating in a full-year no-spending challenge! (Besides food and the essentials, of course). While I commend her I’m not sure I could ever do that. I have, however, participated in two-week no spending challenges and was greatly affected by them.
If that seems like too much try one week. It’ll still be hard but maybe not as daunting.
And a funny thing happens in our brains when we tell ourselves not to spend, our hands start itching for that wallet and we all of a sudden think we need EVERYTHING. But stick with it.:) And continue to practice the art of making do and your daily gratitude exercise. My friend Rachel tried a no-spending challenge and has lots of tips to get you started.
When you get to the end you’ll not only be proud for making it but find you’ll be more intentional about spending going forward.
4. Begin praising or complimenting others.
Wait. What does this have to do with “being content with what you have now?” A lot.
Many of the reasons we’re not content with what we have are because someone else has MORE of it or a BETTER version. But the truth is when we start comparing our clothes, our homes, our cars, our jobs to others’….there will always be someone else that has more of it or has a better version.
Or maybe they’re in debt because they always have to have the best.
Or maybe they just make it appear that way on Instagram.
Or maybe they have everything material wise but because they haven’t mastered contentment they are still miserable.
Or maybe quite frankly, they do have more money and are able to afford things we won’t ever be able to.
It doesn’t matter. Comparison and jealousy will get us nowhere.
But here’s a trick. Next time you feel that ping of comparison or jealousy, “like” their photo. Compliment them to their face. Compliment them behind their back. Say a prayer for them. I promise you, by not giving in to the feeling of jealousy but instead extending a compliment it takes the power out of the comparison.
It might not be what they were expecting to you do. It certainly is not what the devil was expecting you to do. Fake it ’til you make it until you can smile at what someone has but not let it detract from all the blessings you already have.
I truly hope these tips are helpful to guide you to find contentment in your own life. Practice all four of them daily and share with someone who you know is struggling with discontentment in their life.
If so, one day soon we’ll be able to admire the grass in each other’s yard while continuing to water our own.
How did you learn to be content with what you have?
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One of the positives of Covid is that my spending has gone way down. That’s a bonus.
Fatima T says
Praising others is important. Sometimes the hardest part is appreciating yourself as well.
Absolutely, that could be included with gratitude.
Kelly Bolen says
Bravo! This is wonderful advice and some tips I probably need to work on more!!!!! Thank you for the reminders I needed to see today!
I need to work on plenty myself!
I try to remind myself that comparison is the thief of joy. I know that Instagram is constantly pushing fast fashion and other products that we think we need, but as you said, I try to practice gratitude (and limit my social media screen time)!
Yess I’m trying to combat fast fashion too
I have learned to practice gratitude daily, along with being okay with things not being perfect. It allows me to enjoy life more!
Finding the good things in even the simplest of blessings is the secret to happiness.
These tips are practical and inspiring— I think the fourth one is my favorite. A kind acts begets contentment— thank you for this post!
Put forth what you want to get back, that is always my motto. That with these simple steps above are great advice to make the most of life.
I absolutely love this post. You have so many great suggestions! It is so funny- I have said the opposite of you (It’s easy NOT to spend for a week or two…or a month)…but I’m always surprised at the “emergency” spending that I try to justify. It really is harder than you think- but so rewarding.
Nicole Anderson says
I just love the message you have shared here. Contentment forms the basis of being happy and for the most part, we all pretty much have what we need to get by – so why get caught up in obsessing in what you might not have? Much better to focus on what you do have and on all the reasons you have to be happy. Rather than thinking about how some people have more than you, instead think about all those that are far less fortunate than you. That alone should make us feel grateful and hopefully help us to help others – which in itself can be a wonderful reward.
Heather LeGuilloux says
Practicing gratitude (towards ourselves and others) can be so powerful! It can be so important to take a step back and look at what we have and cherishing things in the moment.
Marilyn Nutter says
Lots of wise ideas here to draw us to a place of contentment. I’m going to make a note of these.
When my husband and I moved back to Canada, we definitely practiced the art of making do! We didn’t buy any furniture for our house; we just waited until friends and family were tossing old furniture and took it into our home. We have a nearly fully furnished house now and it didn’t cost us anything! Plus it was fun to get creative with our decor as we waited for free stuff to become available :p
This is something I try to live by every day. I think COVD has helped me focus even more on what truly matters in life – and plus, being in lockdown all the time means I don’t need that new cute spring dress (although I do look forward to it down the road)! I also love looking for beauty in the simplest of places and for me that comes with being in nature. 🙂
Janette Foreman says
I love these tips! I especially identify with #1 and #4. It’s truly amazing how quickly our perspectives change when we practice gratitude and praising others. Such profound effects on our lives as well as others! Thank you for these reminders. Imagine how beautiful the world would be if we all participated in these practices. It starts with us!
I love this! I think it’s so important to be content with where we are and what we have. All the time, I see people who are so caught up in keeping up with everyone else. and it’s such a joy-killer!
So interesting. You really don’t need a lot to be grateful, and sharing and being kind to others is the greatest feeling in the world.
These are great tips! I love the idea of a no-spending challenge as a way to appreciate the things you already have. I tend to stress-shop, so this kind of challenge could help me with that as well.