Today could be one of them. You know, one of those days when you look out your car window while thinking “I hate my life. Is this even worth it?”. And before I continue any further, I must let you know: it is. You can feel content with your life right now how it is…
Although feeling hungry for something more in life is normal, feeling upset and unsatisfied with anything and everything all the time isn’t healthy, let alone normal. Even if your life isn’t as perfect as you would think you would want it to be (there will never be such perfection), you can feel happier if you focus on the right things and change your habits.
But, how do you do it?
Let’s look at different ways you can feel content with your life.
To feel content you must…
Ungrateful people aren’t happy, period. Think about that cousin or uncle who is always complaining about his job, his wife, his car, the traffic, the weather… It seems like nothing could make him happy and it is exhausting to listen to him to go on and on about how everything sucks.
Could you imagine how more exhausting and miserable it is “to be” him? Nothing makes you happy, nothing satisfies you.
You need to appreciate how privileged you are to have certain things or to be able to do others. Only then, you can be grateful and feel content about life.
It really doesn’t matter to whom or what you want to be grateful to. It can be either to God, the universe, or your family. Be grateful for what you already have and for what you are about to achieve.
Love what you do
“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs is one of those famously widely known figures because of everything he achieved in the industry of technology. Whenever you hear a speech from Steve Jobs or read something he wrote, you can definitely tell one thing: he loved what he did.
The truth is, although sometimes it takes discipline in life to make sacrifices and to adhere to certain unattractive tasks or goals, you cannot expect to feel content if every single day of your life you feel unhappy about what you have to do.
Indeed, working is part of life. However, we may choose a work that sparks the passion in our eyes and hobbies that we actually love to do.
You can’t feel content if you live a certain way because “you don’t have any other option”. Make sure everything (or at least everything you can control in life) you do is something you love doing.
Remember when we were kids and every day was interesting because we had something new to discover or we had something new to achieve? We always played games driven by the wish to win, to catch someone, or to make it faster to the finish line.
Back then we felt excited and content… Why? Because we had a goal to reach. We were facing a challenge that made everything more interesting and exciting.
Now as adults, our minds haven’t changed that much. Having personal and professional goals can give a purpose to our actions and to our daily lives. The feeling of getting closer to the “finish line” will make us feel content and satisfied with even the smallest actions.
Stop comparing yourself to the people on social media
Oh, social media, the seller of false lifestyles, goals, and body image… As humans, we had always watched our peers to see “what we should be doing”. However, with social media, things have scaled to a whole new level.
Now, people can see in the palm of their hands how “well” a friend from high school is doing, how he got married to the perfect partner, and traveled the world. Not only do we compare to this friend, but we also compare ourselves to a same-age complete stranger who is showcasing his dream life on Instagram.
Please, read that again. You are comparing yourself with a stranger, who only took a snapshot of a moment he “seemed” happy or “seemed” to have the perfect body. How could you possibly feel content when you are comparing your whole life to a single photograph, probably manipulated or photoshopped?
Now read that again. Doesn’t it feel ridiculous? You can’t feel happy with your life if you are comparing yourself with others on social media. Every person’s journey is different. Social media, if anything, should be motivation. If it isn’t then you should discard it.
Face your fears
Having fear of something is expected and therefore normal. Nonetheless, when we let our fear decide our course of action, we are destined to become slaves to it.
For example, have you ever been so afraid of meeting someone that you avoid places where you could meet that person regardless of the necessity to be there? I have, and although you might feel relieved from not facing such situations, you don’t feel content. Why? Because we are letting fear control us.
Overcoming your fears is a form of personal growth and self-improvement. You’ll feel content and free when you let go of the fears limiting you.
Let go of the past to feel content
Letting go of the past is probably one of the most difficult things you could ask a human being to do.
We are constantly troubled by the “what if’s” and the grudges. Up to this point in history, we can’t control time. The past can’t change in spite of everything. However, we insist on letting something we can no longer alter define our present and our future.
In order to feel content with our lives, we have to abandon our regrets. Instead, we should learn from them and use them as an example of what we no longer want in our existence.
If you can’t let go of the past by yourself, you should always look for assistance.
Focus on the present and on what you do have
Take a break.
Tell me, who are you? What are your qualities? And your greatest achievements? What do you feel proud of?
Now, isn’t what you’ve done so far great? If you don’t believe it, then, you definitely need to give yourself more credit. Even living up to a certain age can be a challenge.
Learn to recognize your current virtues and stop being so hard on yourself. Everyone has space for improvement. Nonetheless, you should always recognize and reward yourself for what you’ve done so far. You are enough.
Take care of yourself
I’m glad self-care is a term you hear with more frequency nowadays. I believe our bodies and minds should be a priority in life. Moreover, we can hardly expect to feel content about ourselves if we are overloaded with anxiety or stress.
In addition, if we look in the mirror and feel like our reflection is “someone we don’t know” (excuse the Mulan movie reference, I’m a fan) could we possibly feel happy about it? The lesson? Take care of your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
Stop trying to feel content with materialism
Consumerism is real and it drives the current capitalist world. Commercials and publicity constantly sell us happiness, success, and fulfillment in the form of a product.
For example, Coca Cola’s slogans in the past decade have revolved around how one bottle of Coca Cola can give you happiness. For example, this commercial titled “Coca Cola Happiness Machine” depicts how different persons become happier after receiving bottles of Coca Cola.
Is this real? No. Not for Coca Cola nor for any other product. Material things can only produce temporary gratification.
Even if you acquire all the material things you could wish for, you won’t feel truly satisfied. Why? Because if you still feel discontent with what you’ve already acquired, it means you value something else, something those material things don’t have.
Save your time and money. You can’t feel content with material things
It doesn’t matter how antisocial you might believe you are, humans are social beings. We like to form relationships and to feel loved, even if it’s just by one person.
Experiences we the people we love are what remains at the end of our lives. Material things come and go, but the relationships we’ve formed follow us wherever we go.
Besides deepening your relationship with the people you already know, try to meet new people to bond with. Life is always happier and more bearable when we are surrounded by the people we love.
Live in the moment
Mindfulness is one of those things that they don’t teach you in school but that it is vital for living. It is about being present at every moment. According to a Mayo Clinic article:
“Spending too much time planning, problem-solving, daydreaming, or thinking negative or random thoughts can be draining. It can also make you more likely to experience stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression. Practicing mindfulness exercises can help you direct your attention away from this kind of thinking and engage with the world around you.”
Mindfulness is feeling content and delighting in the smell, the temperature, and the flavor of the coffee cup you are drinking and enjoying that moment alone without stressing about what comes next.
When you live your daily life without dwelling about the past nor overthinking about the future, you allow yourself to feel content about the present you live in.
A final word about the ways to feel content
There isn’t a formula to become “instantly happy” in life. There are dozens of actions and changes we could do to feel content and satisfied. However, remember some part of your “hunger for more” is normal. Don’t mistake yourself by thinking you will reach a point in life where you no longer want to achieve something else.
Always wanting something more is what drives us. However, while we move towards new goals we should enjoy the process. If we only focus on the future things we will have or achieve, we’ll forget about living in the present.
Feeling content about life is not necessarily to feel like we no longer want or need anything, but to delight in what we have known, what we can do, and what we’ve achieved until we reach our next destination in life.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020, September 15). Mindfulness exercises. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/mindfulness-exercises/art-20046356
Ted, R. (2019, February 27). Coca-cola slogan through the years. Coca-Cola Australia. https://www.coca-colacompany.com/au/news/coca-cola-slogans-through-the-years