• Tash McGowan

Eight Simple Steps to Increase Contentment

Updated: Sep 2, 2019

I've been taking steps for a while now to pursue a more simplified life. By this I mean to live in the now, enjoy what I have, and pursue my dreams while holding on to less. Even though this is my aim, I seem to find myself in seasons where busyness creeps in, or an unexpected curve ball heads my way. I imagine it's the same for us all. Rather than striving for perfection, I'm working on developing some ways to increase contentment in my life.

Here's some tips I've found useful for increasing a sense of contentment:

1. Living your values

When your thoughts and actions are in line with your values, you are able to be your authentic self more easily. Being your authentic self is ultimately going to provide you with a greater sense of contentment, and will attract clear and genuine connection with purpose and with others. There's really nothing like it.

2. Take time to nourish yourself, heart, mind and body

There are an endless number of ways to take care of ourselves. For a long time there seemed for me an endless number of reasons I just didn't have time to fit them in. I was robbing myself! For me this has begun slowly with taking time, each week for some self kind of self care. I've introduced exercise that I enjoy that is just for me, introduced different foods that I like that nourish me, and become more intentional around taking time to do the things I enjoy. Sometimes this is spending time with friends that nourish me, or it could be using a favourite skincare product, or taking some time just for myself.

3. The art of saying no

I love life, and want to live it to the full. One of my biggest challenges has been accepting my limits, and listening to the quiet voice. Learning to say no has helped create space for me to function within my capacity, and to be more fully present in situations where I can thrive as my authentic self.

4. Spend time in connecting in nature

There is something about time spent in nature that just slows us down, allowing us to be present and breathe. I find time every day to get out in the fresh air, in my garden, or perhaps for a short walk. The early morning light is said to increase serotonin levels in our bodies, making this time of the day a great time to tap into light that will naturally lift our mood.

5. Stop comparisons

I am not them. So what. I bring unique gifts to the world, at this time, like no other. The quicker we stop comparing ourselves with others the better. Comparison is the direct thief of contentment. We are all amazingly complex unique creatures, capable of more than we can imagine. We need to believe good things about ourselves, it's that simple.

6. Expand time for daily tasks

I used to be such a crammer. I'd fit in as much as I could, thinking my efficient multi tasking was achieving more in life. I was robbing myself, and I wasn't truly present with others. Now I try to give a good buffer around my tasks for the day, and my objectives for the week, or season. I try to fit in time to reflect and plan, and have lowered my expectation on myself.

7. Find joy in a few simple things

I've come to realise that I can't do everything, and I can't have everything. And, I don't even want to. The pursuit of things is like chasing the wind. Joy for me is simply spending time with those close to me, finding common ground in the things we enjoy.

8. Embrace curiosity

Never downplay the power of curiosity. Asking questions and learning about new things and people can give us so many answers, and unlock new connections and adventures in our lives. We can either embrace our curiosity or spend our lives wondering what it might have been. Be curious about everything, and you'll live a life full of wonder.

The strange thing about contentment is that it’s possible to feel fulfilled inside yet have outer struggle at the same time. That’s because contentment celebrates the simple good in life while simultaneously working through the tough. The tension between the place of inner calm and the struggle of outer chaos is to me the art of being fully alive. The challenge in life is to be, (or to sit) in the tension.

I don't think we can exist in life in an enduring state of happiness, because let's be honest, there are ups and downs, and from time to time life throws the unexpected our way. I do think however, we can work on cultivating a sense of contentment, enabling us to find an inner state of calm, neither striving or resisting the currents of life.

These are not the only steps you’ll need for living a contented life. Perhaps the best ones will be the ones you discover yourself. Try these and see what happens — I think you’ll find out something new about yourself, and be well on the way to enjoying a contented life.

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