I can probably count on one hand how many times in my life I have uttered the word “content”. It is not part of my vocabulary to note that “I am content” with anything or anyone. As you can imagine this makes it hard for those people that are committed to me and I to them. I am always pushing and while that is a personal choice for me, many times it means that those around me are also pushed without choice. For example, my husband is content, I am not and that makes it hard for him to maintain his contentment.
To really dive-in the proper definition is required:
- in a state of peaceful happiness.
- satisfy (someone).
- a state of satisfaction.
I certainly experience various states of happiness and satisfaction but I don’t relate those states or moments as “content”. To be content, in my opinion, is to be happy or satisfied with the end result. Rarely am I ever truly “finished” or “content” with anything as I believe there is always something more that can be gained.
I was watching an interview with Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, this morning and he noted a new term I had not heard before, “Relentless Perfection”. As he explained it is about making “it” great, not accepting mediocrity and not giving up. He made clear to note that it is not about perfection at all. I related with this theory as I do not believe in perfectionism nor do I consider myself competitive. I am about making my world “great” but “perfect” is not something I subscribe. I am always striving. Striving for the next phase, next lesson, next milestone; never expecting to stop or in this case “be content”.
I am grappling with this theory of contentment as my therapist recently noted that you cannot ever truly be grateful with yourself until you are content. He has said it more than once and the more I think on it the more I realize the importance of this theory. Let me break this down…(Don’t you love it when I break it down into tiny over-analyzed granular particles of truth – ha!)
- Let’s start with my marriage. (Oh boy, somewhere in the world Gary is sighing and saying “Here we go!”.) I have been married nearly 24 years. We have a great marriage, friendship and partnership but am I content? My instant reaction is “No” because I know we have to continue to work on it. We are in transition as our youngest is finishing up high school and has very little needs (outside of money) for us to do anything for him. What this means for us? We are soon-to-be-empty-nesters. Haven’t we waited 30 years of raising children to finally have an empty-nest? Gary would answer “YES!!!!” and I would say…”Well…our youngest is welcome to stay through college” to which Gary would say “NOOOOO!!”. Ha! My point here getting back to contentment is that my marriage is not in a state of contentment because we are in a state of transition. While everything around us is changing, so are we which leaves many couples at our age looking at each other and say “Who are you?”.
- Let’s go to my career. This may be the one area I am closest to contentment. I have had to work on this state for a while now as it has been hard to get to “content”. The tough part of finding contentment has been in the “climb”. I spent YEARS getting “here” and once I realized that there was no more rungs on the ladder to climb; I had to get used to the idea of simply “being” here. I am still a bit restless and have to remind myself frequently that I have the title, the expertise, the company, the EVERYTHING I could want in this career and that is contentment.
- Last, let me breakdown the area I spend the least time content and the most work on; ME. I am happy with myself and happier with my healthy-self yet I am always studying on how to be better. I think it is always important to invest in oneself but not to the point that everything is up for negotiation. While I love learning and revel in being a student of life I also recognize that there has to be a time when you relish being a master at something which allows you to appreciate where you are, knowing where you have been and the work you have done. Well look where we ended up…that my friends is GRATITUDE.
I am longing for more contentment in my life and less effort spent on making better things that are absolutely perfect in their current state.
- I will continue to work on contentment in my career and simply enjoy the ride. It doesn’t mean that I won’t strive to make things great, it simply changes the state-of-mind that makes restless to “move on” to the next thing.
- After my last few half marathons are complete this year I will stop training and start running based on how far I “feel” like going and not how far my training plan tells me I “have” to run. Running for pleasure is not something I have yet known.
- I have already stopped tracking every single thing I eat understanding that I don’t have to “do the work” any more as my life of dieting is in the past. I am content with my weight, I am content with my health and I am GRATEFUL beyond words for this contentment.
In hindsight, I actually have contentment in various places in my life and am absolutely content with who I am admitting that I am not perfect but am also not afraid to fail. Most importantly I do have GRATITUDE l as I could be CONTENT in every part of my life TODAY without doing another thing.
Life as I see it – L.