Being content with what we have is sometimes difficult, but the Bible gives us some direction in this area.
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:11-13
I don’t know about you, but contentment is something I often struggle with.
Part of it comes from my ambition I think.
I’m always so focused on moving forward, climbing the next mountain, seeing what’s around the next corner, etc, that sometimes I forget to simply focus on being content.
At the end of the day, any actions you take or don’t take in your life are meant to move you toward happiness (pleasure) and away from unhappiness (pain).
Our forefathers said that we all have a right to the pursuit of happiness.
It’s interesting that they were wise enough to not say everyone has a right to be happy.
They understood the human condition.
We only have the right to the pursuit of happiness.
Nobody is entitled to happiness.
I believe most people are not happy.
So how do find joy and happiness in our lives?
Finding Contentment Requires
Entering Through the Back Door
Unfortunately, the strategy most people have to happiness and contentment is to focus on it and chase it.
I’ve found that pursuing happiness though, is one sure fire way not to find it.
Happiness is like a thick fog on a cool morning.
At the expense of looking foolish I’m going to share something. I know I couldn’t have been the only one to do this…
When I was a kid, if it was a really fogging day, I would try to run into the fog to see what it was like.
But it’s an impossible task.
You never get to be in the fog because as you chase the fog, your perception and vision changes, putting it just out of reach.
Even if you’re physically right in the middle of it, you’re not be able to experience it.
Happiness works the same way.
If you chase it and make it the object of your pursuit, it will always be just out of reach and you’ll never find it.
Just like the fog, you’ll be able to see where you think it is.
You think happiness is around the next corner, the next big house, the next income level, the next promotion…
but as soon as you get to where you thought it would be, it’s gone again like a ghost.
It can be maddening.
The promotion won’t bring it.
Your success won’t give it to you.
Wealth won’t bring it.
Money is just paper (actually cotton).
Nothing outside of you can bring you happiness.
You could meditate and try really hard to internally just decide to be happy… but that foo-foo stuff doesn’t work either.
Focus instead on being content.
Being content leads to happiness.
Focus on serving others and taking the focus off yourself and your contentment will increase.
If you focus on being content with your current life and helping other people, you will wake up one day and realize you’re happy.
One way you can refocus your mind on being content is to take time every day to be thankful.
It’s a process. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians he stated that he has “learned to be content whatever the circumstances”.
This suggests to me that it was even a process for Paul to learn it. He didn’t just do it automatically.
If the apostle Paul had to learn it, how much more so do we?
You can’t just decide to be happy, but you can decide to be content.
Your happiness will grow as a byproduct of your ability to cultivate contentment in your life and to serve other people.
Questions for Reflection/Action Steps
- What is one thing in your business or personal life that you should just be content with?
- What things in your life should you be experiencing more fully, but you’re missing out on them because you’re so focused on what’s next?
- List 3 things you are going to do this week to start developing the routine of finding contentment in your life.
Lord, I know I can do all things through you who give me strength. Please remind me and help me every day to be content in this life. Help me be content regardless of my circumstances. Develop peace in my spirit God and thank you for everything you have already blessed me with.