Days of Gratitude, Day 11: Being Content

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Why do I write this?  Each day I try and get down a thought and throw it out there, because doing so helps me appreciate what I have, and through appreciation and gratitude, I feel a sense of contentment.  It’s not that my life is perfect, far from it. It’s just that when I am thankful for what I do have and focus on that, the problems and challenges in my life seem smaller and more manageable.

I’m not always content, either.  I can still be temperamental at times and prone to feeling helpless and depressed.  There are times when I am not in the moment and I become inundated with worry and fear of what’s around the corner. There have been many times where fear has stolen contentment from me because I believed that nothing good ever happens to me without a catch.  Another shoe dropping.  Just when I thought I had “made it”, the trap door opens and I’m back to where I started.

It took me a while- no, wait.  It’s still taking me a while to understand that nobody “makes it”.  All we have are moments, and then things change.  For better or worse depends on our perspective and whether or not we can appreciate what we have.  If we cannot, then life will always seem tilted towards the negative, the doom and gloom, the fear and the worry.  We will always sleep with one eye open wondering when the next crisis is going to strike.

That is no way to live.

I’m not going to tell you that it’s easy to change this pattern of thinking.  It’s not, and I am not immune from it.  My good friend Mako Allen has reiterated to me many times that mindfulness and living in the moment is a discipline.  It takes practice every day.  That’s why I write this.  Mindfulness is not something that happens without effort and continued doing.  You get better at it the more you do it, but I don’t think it ever really becomes automatic.  You still have to do it.

Contentment happens when we make the choice to be thankful for what we have, not when “good things” happen to us.  What happens to us is fleeting, temporary, and transient.  What we appreciate, what we do, is far more lasting to us. 

Be good to yourself.  Be grateful.  Even when you feel like there’s nothing to be thankful for.  Anyone who has known me more than a couple of years knows what a ranting, Negative Nancy I was.  I’m not that guy anymore.

I’m pretty thankful for that.

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