Being Enough: 5 Ways to Find Contentment with Who you Are and What You Have
Do you know one of those people? Someone who’s at peace with who she is and what she has? I do. This friend doesn’t compare herself to others or talk about what she wishes were different in her life. She doesn’t look back on yesterday with longing or tell herself that she will finally be happy when she loses ten pounds or earns $500 more dollars each month. My friend doesn’t gossip or put other people down to make herself look or feel better. She is just okay with herself, and although she isn’t perfect, she is convinced she’s enough.
How does she do it? And how can you?
When will you be enough?
When will you have enough?
When is enough actually enough?
I spend a lot of time thinking about this topic and working to cultivate this feeling of peace and contentment in my own life. I’m getting better at it and, although I’m not perfect, let’s say I’m good enough. Here are a few things that help me:
1. Be Where You Are
I am nostalgic. So, it’s easy for me to look back at the past with a rosy filter and long for simpler, happier, less stretch-marked days. At the same time, I’m a planner. So, I’m always looking forward with a notebook in hand trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up and how I can get there.
There’s nothing wrong with remembering or planning to improve, but the real life, the real living is all now. Obsessively dwelling on the past or fixating on the future aren’t helpful because they involve comparison. We look at the best aspects of our past and compare them with the worst things about our current situation. When we look at the future, we imagine all the amazing ways things could be and we don’t measure up now.
So be you today. Live in the now.
2. Imagine that You Could Never Be Better or Have More Than You Are or Have Now
If you found out today that you could never be better than you are now or have more than you do now, could you find a way to be happy with your life?
One of the things I complain about most is my 80s kitchen. I don’t love it. When we were looking at houses, I saw the worn honey-oak cabinets and laminate counter-tops with their blue and pink splatter-paint design and thought, “This is an easy fix.”
It may be an easy fix but it takes money and there are always other priorities that pop up just when I think It’s time to update the kitchen. Then I get frustrated and annoyed. I’m a blogger. So, you know, my kitchen is supposed to look like a page from Real Simple magazine, right? Well, it doesn’t but I’m-a keep on bloggin’.
So, in search of contentment and enoughness with my kitchen, I recently asked myself the questions, “What if we never got solid surface counter-tops or gorgeous modern cabinets or hardwood floors? Could I live with it?”
Of course I could. I looked around and started thinking about all the things I love about my kitchen. I have a great gas range that I love. I have enough space to do some pretty insane cooking projects. I have running water and a little kitchen sprayer in the sink and nearly every utensil and appliance I could want. I am super blessed to have that kitchen and it is enough.
There was something so freeing about imagining it would never get better and deciding it could be enough. If it could be enough forever, then it’s definitely enough now.
3. Look at Old Pictures of Yourself
When I look back at old pictures of myself, I generally think I looked better then than I do now. It seems like I was always younger in older pictures and often thinner. Frequently I’m overcome with a feeling of regret. I wish I’d known how beautiful I was and enjoyed it.
You know the saying, “Youth is wasted on the young.” Sometimes I think the present is wasted on the people living now. What’s the point of life if you can only enjoy it in retrospect? I wish I’d known how good I had it and enjoyed my life while I was living it.
Take some time to look at old pictures, think about how little you appreciated what you had and who you were. Then close your eyes and take a picture of your life now, your body now. Choose to enjoy the heck out of it so you never look back on today and say, “I wish.”
4. Take a Break from Social Media
I once finished a phone call with a friend who had called me to vent. For half and hour she talked about how everyone in her house was driving her crazy and being a mom was literally the worst. She was a great mom and a generally positive person and her kids were typically not psycho-beasts. So, I knew that in a day or so, she’d feel better and call me in a much better mental space.
However, immediately after we finished our conversation, I got on Facebook. Seconds after our phone call, she had posted a glowing status about the transcendent joys of motherhood. The heck?
Of course I didn’t expect her to go to the internet with her very personal struggles, but the falsely glowy post really bothered me and I think about it whenever I start to compare my life with the lives of my friends, as viewed from social media.
Most people aren’t posting about how they left the entire cooler full of carefully packed vacation food sitting on the counter to rot or how they did not run 5 miles yesterday or how they DID run 5 miles yesterday only to achieve a personal worst time. You can’t compare your real life with everyone else’s Facebook life.
So, if you’re discouraged by all the perfect children in matching outfits, record marathon times, fabulous tropical vacations, romantic gestures by well-trained husbands, and wise epiphanies you are not currently having, step away from your social media friends and spend some time talking to a real friend. Chances are she just spilled an entire bottle of maple syrup on the carpet and she wants to tell you about it.
And if she did just get a job promotion or find a cure for cancer, it’s easier to be happy for a real person than it is to be happy for a parade of internet braggery.
Remember, if you’re friends with 1000 people and every one of those people goes on a Hawaiian vacation every ten years, you will see posts about 100 Hawaiian vacations each year. That doesn’t mean that everyone but you goes to Hawaii every three days.
5. Make a List of What’s Right
I’m convinced that for every one thing that’s wrong with your life, a hundred things are right. So, if your life is 10 points a mess, it’s probably 90 points awesome. That is pure science, people.
Take a minute to find the 90 points. I tried this exercise in my 80s kitchen this week the day after a peach-canning, car-in-the-shop extravaganza of epic proportions. Here’s a little walkthrough.
First. It looked like garbage. Utter garbage. That’s my ten points for Suck-indor
But here’s what I found for the other 90 points.
Evidence that I’d been hydrating.
Special flowers of love from my favorite 6-year-old.
Peaches I’d spent hours canning when I could just as easily have purchased them at the store, something I often do.
Garden cucumbers dropped off by a loving neighbor.
Dishes from a lunch I made quickly but didn’t have time to clean up from because I was rushing to a friend’s birthday party.
The pan my husband used to bake corndogs because I asked him to pick up something for dinner that wouldn’t require the use of the stove or the dining room table while I was in a peach canning sweatshop. Dinner on a stick. I love that man.
My Loch Ness ladle.
A flower given to me by a friend after my surgery. It’s dead but looking at it makes me happy.
And finally, a freshly clean 80s kitchen that’s prepped and ready to go for the next round of awesome.
Take a minute today to sit and think about your life and realize that you have enough and you are enough for the moment. You may not be enough for a year from now, but that’s okay. You have a year to grow and learn. Let yourself feel like enough for right now. When you mess up, learn from it rather than beating yourself up about it. You don’t have to have a perfect life to be perfectly enough.
Focusing on the blessings and not the beasts in our lives is a sure way to be happier every day! Here is a little more inspiration you might enjoy, to help you find the ‘awesome’ in every day: