3 Concepts that Help Me Be More Content

posted by Andrea | 02/24/2017
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If I’m really honest with myself, I’m not naturally a super “content” person. I would much rather work towards a goal — fixing, updating, improving, growing — versus sit back and just take in my surroundings. And while I don’t necessarily think it’s bad to strive for more, it does get tiring after a while — and I think it has the potential to rob us of happiness.

Over the past few months, I’ve thought quite a bit about what exactly I do to (try and) be more content… and I came up with 3 super simple concepts that seem to help me.

1. Stay away from things that cause me to struggle, stumble, envy, etc.

For me, I stay away from home improvement stores, furniture stores, and other blogs who are way bigger than me and offer many more features (books, printables, online courses,  etc. etc.)

However, I know the things that sometimes make me feel unsatisfied with my life are not the same as the things that might trip you up in your journey to a more content lifestyle.

So instead of listing specific examples, I’d simply encourage you to think about times when you feel the LEAST content, and then try to figure out why.

  • Is it when you visit a friend’s house who is bigger, nicer, fancier, cleaner, or better decorated than your house? If so, try requesting that you get together at your house instead… or meet at a neutral location.
  • Is it when you shop online or in stores? If so, stop driving yourself to those stores, and only go online when you need to buy something specific.
  • Is it when you browse your favorite fashion magazine or watch HGTV? If so, stop reading those magazines or watching those TV channels.

I realize these examples are very ‘black and white’ and it’s not always as easy as simply “not shopping” or “not going to specific friend’s homes”, but I’m 100% confident that by trying to avoid places, people, and situations that cause you to feel unsatisfied with your own life, you will be well on your way to living a more content lifestyle.

2. Make a DONE List and/or Keep a Gratitude Journal

I don’t do it as much as I used to — but making a “Done List” is still one of my most favorite ways to instantly give myself a little pick-me-up after a particularly rough day.

A Done List helps me appreciate everything I did accomplish and be more content with my day — even if I feel like I did nothing useful or productive.

I also highly recommend keeping a gratitude journal. Even if you don’t faithfully write in it every day, it’s amazing how content you might feel after thinking about some of the many things you’re grateful for (or re-reading past gratitudes).

3. Purge the items and activities I no longer need, use, want, or love.

When I think of contentment, I think of being happy with what I already have and not always wanting more, bigger, better, newer, shinier replacements.

However, you know as well as I do that overlooking bigger, better, newer, shinier things isn’t always that easy to do!

One thing that REALLY helps me curb my desire for more is to purge things I already own and am not using. As a very regular and ruthless “purger”, it is always amazing for me to see how much stuff I am willing to purge time and time and time again.”

You’d think I would eventually run out of stuff to purge, but it just keeps coming in — and I just keep sending it back out again! And by recognizing how much stuff we have and don’t even need, use, want, or love, I am more willing to pass by those opportunities to buy bigger, better, newer, and shinier things (at least most of the time!)

I realize there are lots and lots of other tips, tricks, tools, ideas, and concepts I could share — but in an effort to keep it extremely simple, I truly do feel like these 3 concepts cover the bulk.

Of course, they aren’t always “EASY” to pull off! 

It won’t be EASY to stay away from people, places, and situations that cause you to want more. It might not be EASY to get in the habit of making your own done list or writing in your own gratitude journal. And it probably won’t be EASY to purge various areas of your home.

But I do think your efforts will pay off with more contentment, simpler lives, a less cluttered home, and greater appreciation for everything you already have.

How do you practice contentment?

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18 comments

  1. Weekend reading: March 4, 2017 | Life Your Way

    03/04/2017

    […] 3 Concepts That Help Me Be More Content | Andrea Dekker […]

  2. Michelle

    02/28/2017

    My idea of contentment is to stop comparing yourself, your things, and your life to others. We all need to live our lives with the confidence we are doing the best we can at the current time of our life. We need to be happy with the way our lives are because we have choices every day. If we don’t like something about ourselves we can make changes, even small ones, that would make us feel better. For example, although you may not be able to change the size of your house…just make the best of it and be confident that is exactly what you are doing. If someone else’s house is nicer, fancier, cleaner, decorated nicer than yours, it’s as simple as making a few changes that make it more desirable to you on your budget….living within your means provides contentment. Constantly wishing your life was different robs you of contentment and joy. Avoiding going to a friend’s house just because you’re envious doesn’t change the fact. Jealousy robs you of contentment which can also affect a relationship. Find something that makes you feel good and focus on that. Don’t focus so much on what you wish you had and find contentment in what you do have. After all you’re living your life and not your neighbor’s, friends, or anyone else’s.

    Andrea, I hope you don’t struggle with and aren’t envious of bigger blogs that offer the things you mentioned because you have lots of followers that are perfectly content with your blog exactly the way it is. You, yourself, have told us that because of your season of life you do things the way you do at this time. Maybe the people with the bigger blogs are in a different season than you or just don’t have the same priorities you do. I admire you for putting your family first and I am sure we’ll see more from you in the future as your children become less dependent on you. I’m excited to see what’s next and I’m not going anywhere.

    Perhaps it’s ok to visit home improvement stores, furniture stores, bigger blogs, fashion magazines, etc. because it inspires us to make changes that would leave us more content?

    But, I do understand, if you’re not the type of person who can do this it would be best to avoid instead of embrace the possibility of it inspiring a positive change.

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  3. Debbie

    02/26/2017

    I really like the Done and Gratitude journal or list. I do enjoy seeing HGTV or getting the latest on interior design, home decor, etc. If something isn’t broken it doesn’t need to be fixed but if it’s broken and we just don’t have an idea how to fix it it does help to see how others have done their homes.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes exactly! I don’t think magazines or pinterest or TV are all “bad”. I get lots of great ideas from them — when I actually NEED the ideas. So I usually reserve the use of Pinterest and HGTV for when I have a specific need, versus just browsing through them every day. Sounds like you have similar feelings!

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  4. Marisa

    02/25/2017

    I’m not just saying this to flatter you–your blog has a very different feel from a lot of them. So positive and yet reasonable about everyday things. It really brings me back down to earth and reminds me of all the ordinary good things. Not in a head-over-heels, emotional-about-sunsets, taking-pictures-of-lattes way (and I admit that’s my tendency), but in a low-key, satisfied, get-on-with-the-day kind of way. It fosters contentment without apathy.

    Also, for me, enjoying nature alone is good for my contentment level.

    And making sure my intellect is engaged in something worthwhile. As a SAHM, it’s easy for me to get, well, like a German Shepherd left home alone. All worried and nervous and unintentionally destructive because I need a certain type of mental work. (Not simply the challenge of toddlers.) Sometimes shopping can sort of scratch the itch a little (planning, figuring, searching, discovering, comparing, etc.) but in the long run it’s unsatisfactory. I have to make sure I take the time to engage my mind in some worthwhile activity every so often so that it doesn’t start “chewing the sofa” in boredom.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Marisa — that’s a great compliment and I appreciate it!
    Also, I had to chuckle at your last paragraph relating a SAHM to a German Shephard — good analogy 🙂

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  5. Rhonda

    02/25/2017

    I like this article. Our home, for example, is relatively small compared to families in our community. We have a neighbor with a much larger house (but same size family), and her son is in first grade with my daughter. They have a first grade activity where they write a page about the kid whose birthday it is. They recently celebrated my daughter, and this neighbor boy wrote a lot of nice cute things, including that my daughter “has a small house” and a “tiny kitchen”. At first I felt a little embarrassed about it, but then I snapped myself back and thought okay – we have a nicely landscaped yard, 10 acres of attached land, and no risk of neighbors building right next to us…plus, we probably have a lot more free money for other things! In fact, the mom of this boy told me that they had tried to sell the house back when the housing market crashed in 2007 – for FOUR YEARS! They eventually ended up staying because they couldn’t sell it. So…like you and other readers have said…keep it in perspective!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, it’s all about perspective! This is one reason I stay away from excess social media, magazines, and advertisements. They are all selling “bigger, better, more” when I have enough right where I’m at!

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  6. Chris

    02/24/2017

    I love to declutter. We also paid our house off 9-1/2 years ago. So with no mortgage and loving the “less cluttered” look, it helps a lot. If I see a house I love, I think to myself how great my home is with no mortgage. We also have a great location in the country on a dead-end road with woods on three sides of us. I still buy things sometimes, but after decluttering, I certainly love the more clean look. These things are what help me.

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh yes, not having debt is a huge source of contentment for many people I know. Also, my parents always said the same thing to us when we were kids. We asked why we couldn’t move into a bigger, nicer house and they would just say “because ours is paid off!”

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  7. Morgan

    02/24/2017

    LOVE the done list. I do this for work – the first day of each month I list out everything I did the prior month (thanks to noes + excellent tracking in outlook). It makes me feel so accomplished! Also taking 12 of those lists to my annual review is always impressive!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — that’s a great idea Morgan! I would have never thought to do this when I worked in an office! And how smart to save the full year of lists for your performance review!

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  8. Leanne

    02/24/2017

    I throw away most catalogs…
    I only watch HGTV when working out at the gym…
    I love pinterest, but I unfollow boards having to do with health and fitness, especially if they are showing a lot of skin…
    I don’t watch the news as a general rule (even though I don’t, I still seem to know what is going on in the world!)
    I read my bible to remind me that there are just bigger things to care about…
    I practice hospitality when I can…it makes me appreciate what I do have because I can use it to bless others 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    love this list — thanks Leanne!

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  9. Kellie Denton

    02/24/2017

    I agree! Reading your blog is a reality check – it helps to have others that are encouraging you in contentedness. Another thing that I do is avoid the mall and cancel any retail magazine subscriptions (I actually think I got this idea from you several years ago). It’s really freeing – and surprising how little you want when you don’t see it!

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    Andrea Reply:

    avoiding the mall is key for me too (or basically any store). It’s amazing how many things I think are cute or a great deal when I’m just browsing with no intention of buying anything. If I stay at home, I don’t even see the “good deals” and save even more!

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  10. Heidi

    02/24/2017

    This is ironic- but reading your blog helps me with my contentment! You have a way of keeping it real and keeping it simple which goes a long way in the contentment department!

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    Andrea Reply:

    well good! I’m glad!

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