While it may be impossible to accomplish 100% of the time, contentment is something that most of us want in our lives each and every day. I know I do!! And in all the years I’ve been in ministry, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t continually want to be content. In fact, I was recently in a conversation with a woman who was struggling with some difficulties, and her consistent, sustained comment to me was, “I just want to be content in my life.”
What I’ve noticed over the years is that there are some definite characteristics of people who stay content most of the time. And even though content people have troubles and personal issues just like everyone else on the earth, there are some very intentional and specific things that those who are content don’t do.
They Don’t Compare
Here’s the deal…comparison has the power to do two things. It will either make you feel superior to someone else, or it will make you feel inferior. And neither are beneficial if your goal is to be content and happy. A life of comparison keeps us looking to someone else as our standard of measure for who we are to be. And if we consistently compare our lives to others, we most likely will consider ourselves to be less than enough, and that is just not truth. Content people, therefore, are confident in who they are and tend to use comparison as a benchmark for improvement within themselves.
Read Galatians 6:4: Let everyone be sure to do his very best, for then he will have the personal satisfaction of work done well and won't need to compare himself with someone else.
They Don’t Hold Onto Hurts From The Past
We have all been hurt, and if I’m a betting girl, we will all be hurt at some point again. So is it possible to be content and stay hurt all at the same time?! Well you can try, but it could get incredibly exhausting. I suggest this: forgive the hurt, let it go, and begin to move on. Now letting go can be a process, and the time frame is unique and different for everyone. Remind yourself every, single day that ‘forgiving’ is the key to ‘moving on’. And ‘moving on’ is the key to keep you from looking back. Holding onto hurt is like being stranded on a boat in the middle of the ocean with no wind, sails or oars. You continue to stay in one place but want to continue on the journey. Letting go is the moment that the oars are placed in your hands, and you begin to paddle and move closer to your destination.
Read Philippians 3:13: I know that I still have a long way to go. But there is one thing I do: I forget what is in the past and try as hard as I can to reach the goal before me.
They Don’t Spend Time Around Negativity
Negativity is truly a buzz-kill. What I mean is this… Here you are, making a real attempt to stay positive, but still hanging out with people who continue to be negative and nasty, and the joy is sucked right out of you! The fact is, there are just some people who allow grumpiness and complaining to ooze from their pores. And those attitudes, unfortunately, can be contagious. If you’re not careful, their negative outlook can become yours as well.
Read 1 Corinthians 15:33: Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
They Forgive Quickly
Good days. Bad days. Nice people. Mean people. Life, at its best, contains positives and negatives and every combination in between. It’s important to realize that life is not perfect, nor are people, and your life will fluctuate through ups and downs and ebbs and flows. This is an ongoing challenge for me, and honestly, I’m not always good at deflecting the darts of meanness that people try to throw my way. Sometimes, I just want to find a gigantic spear and throw back at them in retaliation. But I’m still in process, and you are too. And if we can prevent what is said or done to us from going in too deep within our hearts, our desire for getting “back” at someone won’t be within us either.
Read Ephesians 4:31-32: Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
They Don’t Create Drama
Even before the onset of social media, drama has been in our world. “She said blah-de-blah. He said ‘blah-de-blah’. They did ‘blah-de-blah’. Oh, no, they did-ent!! Oh, yes, they did!” I have 3 daughters, one teen-aged and two in their twenties, so we have experienced our share of intense drama over the years. All of it was ugly, and not one bit of it was necessary. Drama can be defined as an interpersonal conflict that involves negative talk. Content people make the choice to stay clear of and avoid it altogether. They do not initiate the conversations, and they definitely do their best not to participate in it. Content people have learned the art of avoiding drama at all costs.
Read Proverbs 21:23: The one who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble.
This resource written by Linda Seidler for The Intelligencer Faith Section