Like many of you, I have a word for 2019. I personally prefer this to the never-ending lists of resolutions, but it can be hard to keep a mindset—which is essentially what the word stands for—in my head all twelve calendar page turns of the year. Come to think of it, I don’t remember what my word was last year. Which proves my point. But 2019’s word is different for a few reasons:
Contentment started popping up in my mind long before December, shall we say, 28th, when I likely chose my word the year before. Discontentment is something I’ve struggled with for a long time and more so the last year or two. It’s that feeling in the pit of your stomach telling you something just isn’t quite right with your circumstances. It can be as simple as wanting a new lamp for your living room or as complex as a deep desire for a way out of your present situation. Discontentment can be debilitating until it’s clarified, but it can also be incredibly motivating. It’s what spurred me to make big changes in 2018 like leaving a job that was no longer fulfilling, charting a new course in a different field of work, reclaiming my health, and slowing the pace of our family life waaaaay down to make room for rest.
Another reason my word of the year looks different is because it IS different. Contentment is not like the other, more dynamic words you’ve heard: Conquer, Warrior, Growth, Transition, Freedom, Justice, Courage. All of these are beautiful and meaningful and. . . not me AT ALL right now.
My struggle isn’t with bravery, it’s not a battle for independence, or equality, or knocking the ball out of the proverbial park in my career. I don’t have a goal to run a marathon, win a competition, or read 52 books in as many weeks. No, my struggle is with contentment which happens to be the least radical, shiny word in the whole wide world.
Here’s the thing, guys. Discontentment has taken a lot from my adult years. I bet it’s done the same for some of you, too.
Discontentment has me believing that my work isn’t meaningful enough, my marriage isn’t healthy enough, my home isn’t beautiful enough, my body isn’t strong enough, and my writing isn’t creative enough. Discontent has a way of filching what you have—two working cars with no car payments on either, for instance—and twisting it into what you don’t: a perfectly groomed vehicle with no goldfish crackers permanently crushed into the floorboards or stains on the seats. It seeps into what brings you joy and replaces it with anxiety and pre-emptive worry. Discontentment takes hostage a beautiful vision for your life and family, and berates you with all the reasons it won’t happen because of your circumstances RIGHT NOW.
Understand my struggle here?
Over the next six weeks, we’ll be dissecting what contentment really means. We’ll get to the root of it and treat the causes and symptoms of our dissatisfaction. I’ll teach you how to search your soul, find your people, and turn discontentment on its head. I look forward to giving you practical tips from a girl who shares the same struggle so we can all get better at this thing in 2019. By the way, not all discontentment is inherently bad. There are many times in my life when I felt unsettled, agitated, and uncomfortable because something needed to CHANGE. So we’ll talk about that, too.
My homework for you this week?
Collect your thoughts.
When do I feel most discontent? Is it a place? An activity? With a person?
Is there a time of day I’m more likely to feel content? First thing in the morning? At work? At home with family? Just before bed?
How are my habits feeding my level of contentedness? Think about the following: time on social media; time with people in and out of my socio-economic class; what I read, watch, and listen to; time spent outside.
What would a content life look like a year from now?
I’ll be back next Tuesday to discuss the roots of discontentment and how it manifests and grows into a big ol’ weed. See you then.
A restful weekend was photographed from The Sanctuary, an Airbnb home in Vesuvius, Virginia.