More than once, I’ve thought how absolutely perfect it is to be finishing my 90-day Contentment Challenge during the most gorgeous week of the year. Everything is in bloom in Virginia. The days are getting warmer but not hot. The grass is greening up but doesn’t need to be cut just yet. There is more sun on my face and more Vitamin D soaking into my body. The winter doldrums have lifted in our house. We feel. . . content.
In a few days, my 3-month commitment to resist spending for my wardrobe and my home will be over. I’m looking forward to snagging a new pair of tennis shoes—I can feel how worn my current pair is when I run—a spring dress, and a candle in that order. I have a kids’ bathroom project that I’m thinking about completing in April. And, just to appease my GenZ daugther, I’m going to look for a pair of non-skinny jeans for summer.
When I began the Contentment Challenge on January 1st, I started a note in my phone to make a running list of all the “wants” I couldn’t have. For the first few weeks, I added a lot of items to the note. But now, three months later, that list has dwindled to the bottom of my app. I haven’t updated it in weeks.
Just as more begets more, I’ve learned that less begets less.
I’ve given away more clothes than I have in years these last 90 days. I’ve shrugged my shoulders at decorative home projects I thought would be done by now, opting instead to spackle and paint the holes in the mantle from our Christmas stockings, or that 100-year-old map of Maine we couldn’t quite hang correctly. I’ve framed art made by my oldest daughter, and white washed a used canvas to be repainted for our bedroom.
I’ve cared more about the things I already own.
I’ve cared less about the things I don’t have.
Somewhere along the way, I realized that there are purchases in my life that bring joy (plants, books, paper products) and purchases that anesthetize pain (clothing, frivolous beauty products, some home items). I’m sure those lists aren’t all encompassing and are probably individualized, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to guess that there is a psychology around your buying habits, too.
As the Contentment Challenge ends, I plan to reenter the world of consumerism with care. After all, I never really left. I just made a three month commitment to flip the script, get to the bottom of my discontent, and decide that joy looks more like a cherry blossom blooming in my neighborhood this week than an extra 40% off at my favorite retail store.