Like I said in my last post I feel that contentment and compassion are inextricably linked. I think it is impossible to have contentment without compassion and developing compassion leads to contentment.
Contentment isn’t the same as happiness. Happiness tends to be in response to something and is easily swayed away from happiness, whereas contentment is more gentle and underlying, I bob away from contentment and come back to it again when the thing changes.
So how did I develop this state of contentment? I’m not sure, which I realise isn’t very helpful. But, it has a lot to do with lowering expections. I was always so driven, career focused, looking for the next course to do, the next thing to do. I would always have multiple projects – both work and personal – on the go at any one time and still looking onto the next thing too.
I wasn’t happy in the day to day minutae of life, I wanted all the big grand things to happen. That actually being an everyday person, getting on with their every day life wasn’t enough. Needless to say this is exhasuting. I think that contentment comes with mindfulness, looking for the little things that make you smile.
When I walk Buster, I tend to go somewhere ‘interesting’ each day and then, if I am feeling well enough up to the local park (otherwise Gavin does it). The interesting places are country parks etc. I do not wear my earphones and I try to be really present, listening and taking great pleasure in hearing birds, the creaking trees, the warmth of the sun (if I am lucky) and seeing squirrels and other wildlife. Sometimes I think about whatever my writing project is at the time, sometimes client work – I often manage to solve problems while I am walking. But spending time outdoors, what ever the weather, makes me contented and sometimes happy too.
I have always hated housework and raged against it regularly. Not only was this a complete waste of energy, but it made me unhappy. Now I have learnt to be content with a tidy kitchen and the laundry put away. This little shift in attitude has made it easier and added to my contentment.
I was always looking for the high – the holiday, the big day out, the theatre trip, etc etc, now I enjoy pottering around the house and garden, cooking food, baking, gardening and spending time with my husband and dog. I have learnt to take pleasure in sitting and chatting to Gavin while he cooks, or vice versa. Curling up on the sofa together to watch a favourite programme. Playing games together and just ‘being’ together rather than ‘doing’ all the time. It is really nice when we sit in our office together in the evening, or both sit reading together in the same room.
Learning to ‘be’ rather than ‘do’ all the time has been fundemental in learning contentment. Not comparing myself to other people (Instagram and blogs are a major contributing factor to the comparison) – trying my best not to compare my insides to someone else’s insides.
Radically overhauling my life and my expectations have been key and a major part is surrender and acceptance, which I will go into in another blog post at a later date!