Shortly after having my second child, I signed up for a parenting class offered through my Church. I was ready for a fresh perspective and some new ideas as I headed into life with 2 kiddos. One of the opening exercises we did was to reflect on the question of what kind of children you wanted to raise. I wrote down a sheet full of adjectives that I would use to describe my dreams for my children. During the group sharing portion, I offered one idea. "Content", I blurted out. "Content?" he questioned. "Well, let's leave that off the list. That one has so much more to do with how they feel about themselves. And do you really want contentment? Isn't it better to be going FOR something?"
I left that evening puzzled. Contentment, as I had seen it, was a good thing - a state of being that said I am pleased (enough) with myself and my surroundings that I can be happy.
Enter Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project. I've been reading it all summer and posting my reflections on each chapter. My curiosity was piqued when I came to Chapter 11 entitled Keep a Content Heart. Hmm. What would she have to say about contentment?
Her resolutions were these:
- Laugh out loud.
- Use good manners.
- Give positive reviews.
- Find an area of refuge.
She talks about "a heart to be contented" Do I have a heart to be contented? Much like Gretchen, I weigh in more on the dissatisfied, fretful, and a pain to please. Just ask my husband. Oh, wait, don't. :)
Contentment is our perception of happiness. It is in some ways the highest form of happiness because it adds the rest together and makes the broadest brushstroke, and, when actively present, contentment allows us to evaluate ourselves as happy.
As Gretchen quoted in this chapter, "It is easy to be heavy; hard to be light." Perhaps contentment is the lifting off of the heavy to allow the inner lightness to float up and out.
Let me leave it with this. I read this sign, that was in fact over my head on the ceiling today, as I went for a yearly check-up. It's where I am with contentment.