Ever find yourself wondering how to be content with what you have? Imagine this: there you are, enjoying a happy Saturday at home. You just decluttered a closet, and you're feeling pretty good about the weekend. You decide to check Instagram to see what your friends are up to.
When you open the app, you find that one of your acquaintances just took a vacation to Hawaii. Suddenly, your Saturday at home doesn't seem so great. In fact, you feel like your day was pretty lame.
Many things in our lives make contentment a challenge. Being content with what you have may seem impossible with all the advertisements and comparison that comes our way. But it isn't. So, let's talk about contentment. What makes it difficult, why you want it, and how it can make your life way better.
What makes being content with what you have difficult?
Being content is pretty much a matter of being happy with your life the way it is. But this isn't easy. Why? Many influences make it easier to envy what someone else has or to want things you perceive as being important, whether they are or not.
This can come in the form of social media, society, marketing and ads, and comparison. All of these have the power to make you lose your joy and peace and live without contentment.
If there's one thing that makes envy and discontentment way more likely, it's social media. Seeing photos of others' (seemingly) perfect lives, latest purchases, or parties is an easy way to feel like your own life should be better somehow.
The thing is, these people probably aren't all that content with their lives, either. And once you realize that everyone experiences this feeling, it can be easier not to let it get to you.
You know all those unspoken rules we all observe? It may come in the form of overworking based on how much others work, comparing salaries, or comparing our family or home to someone else's. There are other things, too.
Eating at restaurants that are considered cool, wearing only what's deemed fashionable, being aware of whether you live in a trendy neighborhood or not - that's pressure from society.
To be content with what you have, it's important to let go of society's expectations. This means not letting others dictate where you work, your fashion sense, where you live, or anything else that is your choice.
Ads and marketing
Ads and marketing are more targeted than ever. And if advertisers think they can get you to buy something by making you discontent, they're going to try.
While marketing isn't necessarily bad, remember the goal is not to help you but to make money for the company that is selling something. Don't let yourself feel like your life isn't complete without whatever item is being sold.
Comparing ourselves to others has gotten way out of hand. This happens when we want our lives to look like someone else's or want something they have.
While it can be tough to see your friends or people on social media who have things that you want for yourself, it won't do any good not to be content with what you have. And it can impact your life pretty negatively.
Why choose to be content with what you have
Sometimes comparison and discontentment are pretty tough to avoid. Why should you actively choose to be content with what you have instead of trying to always have the best of everything? A few reasons, actually.
While we may not actively recognize discontentment when it's happening to us, we can definitely see the effects. Check out these reasons to avoid the comparison game.
Comparison is the worst
Comparison really is the worst. Why? Because it will never be enough. No matter what you buy, where you travel, or where you live, there will always be someone who has something else that you want.
Trying to fill your life with everything others have is exhausting. Not to mention, if you took some time to think about it, you might discover that you don't even want the things that someone else has. So to recap, comparison is a no-win game and tiring.
Comparison is an illusion
Comparison is not even a real thing. Think about it: you want something, so you go buy it. After a few days or weeks, you probably hardly notice that you have that item anymore, right? You're on to the next thing. You don't feel better or like your life has improved. So it's kind of an endless and pointless chase towards nothing.
It also keeps you constantly striving for more, without finding any real joy or satisfaction. But the good news is you can be happy and find purpose without constantly trying to buy or have the best of everything.
You'll be happier
Guess what you have if you aren't discontent? Peace. You can enjoy what you have without the constant need to acquire more. That will help you breathe easier, and you'll likely be a lot happier. Which is what we're all really after, right?
Still need convincing? Jacqueline Pearce, MSEd, LMHC, of Good Therapy, explains that contentment makes you happier because you are free to enjoy the moment. Plus, you can make your relationships more solid.
12 Ways to be content with what you have
Now that we've established that comparison doesn't do any good, let's find ways to break the habit. It can be challenging, but with some habit changes, it's possible to be content with what you have and not want to have the life or items that someone else has or owns.
We'd recommend trying out a couple of these techniques to find something that helps you break any unhealthy patterns. You don't have to do all of these, but you can if you want! Here are some ways to start being content with what you have.
1. Do a social media detox
It's a favorite for a reason. Free from social media, it's more challenging to even know what you don't have or what you could be missing. And after a short time, you might not even care!
Pick a set day and time to stay away from social media to do a social media detox. Delete apps from your phone, and vow to not check social media on your computer.
Do this for a day, a weekend, or even a whole week. You might notice a lot more contentment after you get this comparison trap out of your life for a while.
2. Try a no-spend challenge
A popular time frame is a month or a week, but you can pick whatever you want. Sometimes when you know you aren't going to buy things, the temptation not to be content can go away, at least some of the time.
3. Write thankfulness notes to yourself
Write notes or letters to read later about things you're thankful for. Include people you appreciate, what you like about your life and what you're grateful to have. This helps you remember everything you already have and can help you be content with what you have.
Place these notes around your home, in a notebook you use frequently, or as sticky notes on your computer. These reminders will bring you right back whenever you feel like your attitude is moving towards discontentment.
4. Declutter your life
Sometimes realizing how much stuff we already own can help with contentment. When we declutter and get rid of things, the last thing we want to do is add more stuff to an already crowded space. This can do a lot for your contentment level by making you appreciate all the items you own.
Start with a part of your home that stresses you out, like kitchen cupboards or closets. Or a whole room if you're feeling ambitious! Then move on to something else when you think you've organized and decluttered the space enough.
5. Make use of what you have
Next time you want something new, think of things you already have that are similar or look for ways to use what you have instead of buying more. For example, maybe you want a new dining table, but the one you have would look brand new with a coat of paint.
Or you can't afford a vacation, but you can spend next weekend having a staycation at home. Use what you've got and learn to appreciate creativity.
Plus, you may find that the joy, time with family, or peaceful atmosphere you were searching for isn't something that can be bought. It's something you already have access to. Using some creativity and thought, you can make use of what you have and be just as happy as anyone else.
6. Tell family and friends you appreciate them
Tell people you care! Take the time to tell each person individually that you appreciate them and are thankful that they're in your life.
Find ways to enjoy the present instead of missing out on good memories and moments with loved ones due to discontentment. Watch a movie, go to the park, or just have fun being with the people you care about.
7. Save for the future instead of spending
Discontentment can lead to overspending on items we don't need or even truly want. Instead of wasting that cash, save up for something in the future that you really care about. Emergency funds, retirement savings, or even something fun like a weekend trip or a handbag are great places to start.
The point is that you begin to think about what you'll want in the future instead of just what you want right now. To save, try using a glass jar to fill with money if you want to be old school about it.
Or set up a savings account for the specific purpose you decide. Commit to a certain amount to save each month or save whenever you start to feel discontent. Whatever works better for you.
8. Create a capsule wardrobe
A capsule wardrobe is full of simple items that all go together. Use only clothing items you already have and primarily neutral colors that will easily match. Then spend some time figuring out outfits. Making a capsule wardrobe will do a lot to teach you how to be content with what you have.
Having a capsule wardrobe will keep you from feeling like you need to buy every new trend that comes out. You won't feel like you need to purchase something constantly, especially if you choose flattering outfit combinations.
9. Change your dialogue
If you want to practice being content with what you have, notice the words you say. Discontent phrases are usually things like, "I wish I had," or "once I get the (promotion, house, car)." Having goals is good, but discontent talk will only make you unhappy. Learn to differentiate between the two.
Use positive, content language instead. Phrases like "I'm happy for that person" or "I'm grateful for" are good places to start. And you can still talk about your goals while staying content. It's okay to say, "Next year I hope to move to (city)," or "I'm working hard to get a promotion," and still be happy about where you are.
Volunteering is another great way how to be content with what you have! This will help you think about others instead of yourself and what you don't have. Plus, it can remind you that some people are content with very little and are still happy.
To volunteer, find a cause you care about and find a way to get involved. This might mean working at an animal shelter, delivering meals to the elderly, or helping out at a homeless shelter. Find a way to contribute, and see how quickly you start to be content.
11. Make it a habit to compliment others
Rather than wishing for what someone else has, be happy for them. Compliment people on their hairstyle, excellent grade on a paper, or their beautifully styled home. People will appreciate your thoughtfulness, and it will make you feel better, too.
This also helps you be excited about others' accomplishments without wishing for your life to be exactly like theirs. Sarah DiGiulio of NBC News states that it's important to give compliments that are honest and to make it a habit to do so often.
12. Think about what you actually want, not what others want or have
Have you paused to think about what you actually want? Sometimes social media and society try to tell you what you want without you ever deciding anything. To avoid this, next time you feel envious, ask yourself why. Do you actually want what that person has?
For example, maybe you feel discontent when you see one of your friends has a bigger and fancier house than you. But pause for a moment, and you may discover you don't really want to clean or decorate a home that large, anyway. That means you can be content with what you have.
Once you realize what you don't want, you can decide what you do want, free of influence from others. Whether your dream is starting a business, completing your master's degree, or visiting every country, you can begin working towards your own goals. When you know what you want, focus your efforts on that, and ignore what others buy or do.
Life will become better when you can be content with what you have
Living and enjoying your own life is absolutely the best way to get rid of envy and discontentment for good. You'll feel so much better, appreciate more, grumble less, and may have a better outlook on everything.
Be content with what you have and use these techniques to help you get there. You may be surprised by how quickly comparison disappears when you're busy enjoying your own life!