For the past few years, I have chosen one word to be my New Year’s resolution. I try to pick one word that I want to embody or even just pay more attention to throughout the coming year. This year, I chose the word “contentment.”
I’m almost four months into 2015 so far, and what I have learned about this word surprises me more than any other word I have chosen as my #oneword. Turns out, contentment, more than any word before, has a completely different meaning than I thought it did! I always thought that to be content was a form of happiness. If you were content with your situation, then you were pretty happy with your situation. I pictured contentment as happiness sitting in a rocking chair. Sort of an older, wiser, calmer, more confident form of happiness. But what I have discovered this year is that contentment doesn’t have a darn thing to do with being happy.
For me, contentment has been all about being present where I am and with what I am doing. I’ve cut back on multi-tasking this year, thanks for this big word. Because if I am sitting at Bean’s tee ball practice, but grading papers for school, then I am not content to be at tee ball practice. Instead, I am wishing I were somewhere else doing school work. And that just isn’t the case. I WANT to be at that tee ball field. I WANT to sit quietly in the lobby for an hour while Gracie is in ballet class. I WANT to go grocery shopping. I WANT to go to bed early.
The problem I always have encountered in my adult life is balancing the wants with the shoulds. I might want to be at the tee ball practice, but I SHOULD be grading papers. I might want to sit in the quiet lobby and breathe for an hour, but I SHOULD be responding to emails. I might want to go grocery shopping, but I SHOULD be signing the kids up for swimming lessons. I might want to go to bed early, but I SHOULD be up late blogging. With a focus on contentment, I have stopped this mumbo jumbo called multi-tasking. If I am content to sit and watch Bean play tee ball, then that is all I am going to do at that moment.
Surprisingly, this has not meant that I haven’t been doing things that I SHOULD do because I’m just doing the things I WANT to do. In fact, the opposite has happened. When I am at school, I know that I will not give myself the option of working while sitting at tee ball or ballet or wherever I am, so I better get it all finished while I am there. I know that I won’t give myself the option of checking my email while I wait for the grocery clerk to check out all my groceries, so I make sure I get that done in the time I am supposed to be checking my email.
When I am working, I am content to be working, and when I am playing, I am content to be playing.
It’s all very zen of me.
More than any other year, more than any other word, I think contentment is making the most profound impact on my life. I am sleeping better than I ever have before (and that is a minor miracle), I have almost no anxiety right now (another minor miracle), I am happy and fulfilled.
I am content. And it’s not what I expected, at all.