Monday, February 21, 2011

A Conversation about Contentment

 I wanted to share an instant message conversation that I had with a good friend this week, because it provided me with a very "Ah-ha!" moment, as Lady Oprah says.
me: I'm looking through our house before and "after" pictures and MAN our condo was a craphole when we bought it
friend: yeah
does that make it harder to believe you are in the situation you are?
me: No, because we always had the vision of what it could be. And it had more than a lot of the other similarly priced places had (the den & and the 2 car garage)
And sadly it was not the worst/most expensive place we looked at
friend: Too bad you weren’t in GA
you could get a lot more House in GA... ;)
me: yeah, but then I'd live in GA! :)
I'm content with the situation right now.
friend: yeah yeah
me: I know you can't fathom that, but I am
friend: no, I can
And as long as you aren't miserable, I'm cool with it, since you need my blessing and all... ;)
 me: it is a very "accept things I cannot change" stance 
I'm actually in a pretty good place about it.
friend: Like a year or so ago, you were not so Zen about it
 me: I was in a very different place a year ago.
 I was miserable at work, my favorite aunt was dying, my dad was sick, we'd put off having another baby, Diesel  was part time, our house was tiny with a giant mortgage, etc.
But this summer I just made a conscious decision to get okay with it.
I realized my frustration with it was toxic and was infecting other parts of my life. I was spinning my wheels about it and it was using a lot of energy.
I figured I could sit there and wallow in the mud or I could figure out a way to turn it into something positive.
friend: right
and you have come a LONG way
and your life has really turned around
 me: And really, really, really,
I am happy.
I am content.
Sure, I still sometimes wish it were different, but 95% of the time I'm happy with what we have.
We have MORE than enough. 
 This conversation made me realize that I have made a tremendous amount of progress in the last 12 months (even if it doesn't always feel that way!). It also made me realize that contentment and happiness really are a choice. The circumstances that impact your life are not always in your control, but the way you react to them is in your control.

A year ago I was terrifyingly miserable. I was feeling completely powerless and let me tell you, that is a dark place in which to dwell. I look back on that period of time and remember being filled with this overwhelming feeling of sadness and, worse, utter hopelessness. I felt as though I no longer in charge of my own life and that because of decisions I had made and because of events beyond my control.  I bemoaned and belabored this point to anyone who would listen.

Then on August 9, 2010, I happened upon an article, titled “But Will it Make You Happy?,” which featured Tammy Strobel’s attempt to simplify and minimize in her own life. It was as though this article had been written for me. I had not really heard of the terms “downshifting” or “work-spend treadmill,” but the content of the article resonated with me. I realized there were ways that I could regain control of my life.

Because of that one article, I decided to make a change. I voraciously consumed all the blogs and articles and books that I could find on the topics of minimalism, downshifting, simplicity and frugality. I started this blog to follow my progress. I started actively looking at our family budget and trying to figure out how to become debt free. I purged the stuff I didn’t want or need.

In that moment I took control of my life and I cannot begin to tell you the happiness that has come in the last few months. I no longer feel that my life controls me, but that I am in control of my life. I am looking ahead to the next year and seeing a path clearing in the direction of where I want to be. It has taken a lot of hard work and a lot of thought, but I’m finally on my way to where I want to be. I have a plan and I will not be deterred!

And it feels AMAZING.


  1. Good for you! I'm happy that you are happy, er...content.

  2. I just stumbled across your blog and have to let you know that this post totally resonated with me. Thank you

  3. @Anonymous-- I'm glad that it resonated with you! I hope you've either found personal contentment or are in the process of getting there! :) (and I'm excited to have someone randomly stumble on my blog! that made my day!)
    @Clara-- Thanks! I am both happy and content!


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