To wonder what the bloody secret to contentment is?

(255 Posts)
Tailtwister Wed 24-Jul-13 15:28:01

AIBU to wonder if contentment exists and if so, how do you damn well get it?

You meet some people who just seem so content with their lives in general and appear to be able to enjoy all the great things and not be overly bothered by the bad. They are often not those who have the most in a material sense, but seem to be so happy with what they do have IYSWIM. I would LOVE to be like that, but I'm just a discontent and dare I say it, jealous person. I hate being like that, but wonder if that's just me, the way I am.

So, all those who are content with their lot. What's the secret? Is it just a mind set which you either have or not?

SkinnybitchWannabe Wed 24-Jul-13 15:30:43

I know exactly what you mean and I wish I felt total contentment.
Sadly I don't think I ever will.

peggotty Wed 24-Jul-13 15:35:07

It's definitely a mindset. Confidence and self esteem has a lot to do with it. If you're always striving for an unachievable 'end goal' of happiness/contentment it causes discontent and an inability to live in the moment. This has been a lifelong problem for me (am 37 now) and am only just starting to get it!

WestieMamma Wed 24-Jul-13 15:36:07

I found contentment when I stopped trying to live up to my perceived ideas of what society expected of me. We're 'supposed' to have successful careers, exciting social lives, expensive foreign holidays, the latest clothes etc. Whereas I get enjoyment from pottering around my garden, staying in with my husband and having takeaway pizza, camping in Wales and living in old comfortable clothes. Once I had confidence to embrace those things, contentment came rushing in.

Tailtwister Wed 24-Jul-13 15:41:09

Yes, that's another one peggotty, I find it incredibly hard to live in the moment.

I'm not particularly materialistic. I don't spend lots of clothes, drive expensive cars or go on big holidays. I just can't put my finger on it, but although I don't particularly desire those things I envy those who have them.

TylerHopkins Wed 24-Jul-13 15:45:04

With me it was something that came with age and experience. I would see people worse off than me or in poor health and it made me realise just how lucky I was to have what I've got. It may not be much to others, those with more money, more exciting lives etc but it's a hell of a lot more than those less fortunate than myself. I've learned to accept my lot. I still have wobbles from time to time and I still work hard to achieve certain goals but I know that if I don't reach them then it's not the end of the world.

BumgrapesofWrath Wed 24-Jul-13 15:46:39

I think I'm fairly contented.

One key thing is to really not give a shit about other people's lives! I notice a lot of my friends are ridiculously competitive and envious when looking at what others have and it makes them unhappy.

Also, though happy I am a pessimist and a realist, so it something goes well for me it will have surpassed my expectations. Being pessimistic I also feel incredibly lucky for everything I do have

freddiefrog Wed 24-Jul-13 15:46:54

I am quite content, but I've no idea how I got here.

I'm massively unambitious and quite laid back, maybe it's just the way I am.

UriGeller Wed 24-Jul-13 15:48:08

I found it after a bereavement. I went wild for a bit and then had a revelation, NOTHING could be as bad as what I'd already experienced.

This revelation liberated me. I have no 'stress' in my life. I don't judge the way other people choose to live and I have found patience. I am content with my lot. I feel I still have a long way to go to reach ultimate serenity but I'm working on it.

Read Eckhart Tolle 'A New World'. Concentrate on being mindful.

I agree too with WestieMamma, try not to compare what others have with yourself.

Tailtwister Wed 24-Jul-13 15:50:18

Yes, I agree Tyler it is very sobering to think of people who are very ill or worse off in other ways. The thing is, I do have a huge amount of empathy for other people (DH says too much), yet I'm still a discontented sod. It has become worse since having children and it does feel that whatever I do it's never quite good enough.

I sound like your friends Bumgrapes. Maybe pessimism is the way forward!

Yep, I am pretty contented....most of the time.

Agree with Bumgraes - am just content with my lot and don't focus on others, on what they have, on being liked/loved by everyone. I am also a realist and so tend not to get disappointed as I have no great expectations of things/people.

Basically, what will be will be - life is full of chapters, of shit, of highs - I just go with the flow and so far so good. I am very even keeled so don't really get mood swings etc.

Cakebaker35 Wed 24-Jul-13 15:54:25

WestieMamma I couldn't agree more. I'm pretty sure contentment comes when you stop comparing yourself to others or where you think society expects you to be by now, I.e. successful career, amazing talented happy smiley kids, fabulous husband, home, holidays,...the list goes on really. Think you have to look inward a bit, figure out what you want and not give a monkeys about what others have. Like others have said, I'm only just getting this and I'm 37.

TylerHopkins Wed 24-Jul-13 15:54:44

It's easy to feel envious of those around you but if you look a bit deeper you'll see it's not all a bed of roses in most cases. Sometimes people give off this air of having everything but deep down they're lonely or are having problems in another area of their life.

Life can never be perfect because it changes so rapidly. I suppose it's how you react to those changes that counts.

RoooneyMara Wed 24-Jul-13 15:55:17

I wonder if it is something our families give us very early in life.

I have never felt contented, always anxious and worried. Always. Even when things are 'good', well I'm not sure if they ever have been.

I think a lot can be said for having a solid, stable home and stable parents who love you more than anything when you're very young.

RoooneyMara Wed 24-Jul-13 15:56:34

Yes it is your own, personal baseline that matters - not what happens to you.

If you've got a wonky baseline then everything will phase you, even if nothing happens, it still makes you worried or unhappy.

AnnabelleLee Wed 24-Jul-13 15:57:32

I think your mistake is seeking a constant, nobody is happy or content ALL of the time.
Contentment is not being envious of what others have, and not always pining for more than you've got. Striving for better, to improve, thats one thing. Sitting around coveting what others have is the worst thing you can do.

ProfYaffle Wed 24-Jul-13 15:58:11

Having a dh with a brain tumour helps! He's fine, had the ops, all clear for 5 years so far (fingers crossed, touch wood etc etc) I can recommend it for putting everything into perspective, living in the now and all that jazz.

I would say I am contented - for me I try to only stress about the big stuff. I remember worrying to my mum about something possibly going wrong on my wedding day and she said well if it does you just have to go with it and remember it will make it memorable and you'll look back and laugh as you can't change it! That sentiment I think has really stayed with me. I think for me my relationship with DH is what makes the biggest difference though, if course there are things I want/that upset me (been ttc #2 for three years) but at te end of the day if this is my life forever more I'd take it!

mrscog Wed 24-Jul-13 16:01:02

I'm a very contented person in the main, and I'd agree it comes from being true to yourself, your likes, dislikes, being honest about your bad points. And also trying to let tiny things make you really happy, even on the shittest days. I've been pretty down at times, and then one day I decided that no matter how sad I felt, every day I was going to find one thing to make me smile. One day it was simply finding the shiniest 20p you've ever seen in the street. I've held on to this (approach not the 20p - I imagine that got spent on booze as I was at uni at the time) and I think it's partly why I'm so content now.

Tailtwister Wed 24-Jul-13 16:02:34

That must have shaken you very badly ProfYaffle and posts like mine must seem very self indulgent to you.

There's a lot of food for thought in these posts and a lot of very good advice. I am reading with interest and will re-read once I have some headspace (children currently fighting).

farrowandbawl Wed 24-Jul-13 16:02:47

For me it was the day I decided not to care about what any one else thought. I stopped trying to please everyone. I stopped looking at facebook. I stopped comparing not just myself but my children to everyone else too. I stopped giving a mokeys about what I'm supposed to do, what I should be doing and what people expect me to do.

Now, I'm contented. I answer to no-one. I don't regret any decisions I've made, I don't second guess myself, I realise that everyone else is just the same. Have the same insecurities, the same niggles, the same voices of self doubt, the same wish for something better....and none of it matters. None of it at all.

If you are happy in your choices you make, not just in your life but day to day. You can sit back and review the choice you have made, learn from the bad and make note of the good, everything else just melts into the background.

AidanTheRevengeNinja Wed 24-Jul-13 16:03:14

My gran used to have the Desiderata on her wall, and one line stuck with me:

"If you compare yourself to others you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be others greater and lesser than yourself"

I think of this when I find myself getting discontent, as it's usually a result of feeling I am missing out on something x has (not necessarily a material thing).

insanityscratching Wed 24-Jul-13 16:03:23

I'm pretty much content but then I've always been easy going, laid back and probably boring tbh. I'm happy just having my family near and I don't really want for more than what we have. I have two children with disabilities and I think my outlook changed and really so long as we are happy together as a family then that is enough for me.

Wetwood656 Wed 24-Jul-13 16:04:07

For me I live in thankfulness for what I have (hope that doesn't sound twee!) and that helps me feel content and happy with my life. I've had a lot of sad times but I thank the universe every day for my children, job and house etc and it does mean I am in a more positive state than if I dwelt on bad things

TylerHopkins Wed 24-Jul-13 16:04:19

ProYaffle so happy to hear such a positive outcome.

Ragwort Wed 24-Jul-13 16:04:56

I think I am very content with my life, it is not 100% perfect, I struggle with being a parent, my marriage is only 'so-so', I don't have a particularly close relationship with my siblings, don't have a pension grin, struggled with being fat over-weight all my life BUT I know I am very, very fortunate compared to most people throughout the world; I don't have to go out to work, can be a SAHM with school aged child, have a very comfortable home, have my own car, no real money worries, have a wide circle of friends, do lots of interesting voluntary work, within reason can do my food shopping without some of the worries you see on Mumsnet, am more than happy to buy my clothes at charity shops.

I have a strong faith, I think that helps me, material things mean very little to me. I have a strong sense of self esteem as well so I am confident and I think that counts for a lot. I have a lovely saying on my desk 'Happiness is wanting what you have'. smile.

Although as someone else commented, I am not at all ambitious, in fact I am probably quite lazy and happy to coast along with my life.

PoppettyPing Wed 24-Jul-13 16:05:29

I'm also pretty content. I don't have much money or things. I couldn't give less of a shit what other people have or what people think of me. I treat others with compassion and dont get too wound up about things I cant control. I think reading a lot about mindfulness and Buddhist philosophies is helpful to understand how we create a lot of our own miseries, and how to let go a little. I think happiness is a skill that anyone can learn with a bit of patience.

Keztrel Wed 24-Jul-13 16:06:24

This will sound random but I'm contented and have been ever since I came off the Pill. The Pill affected the way I saw the world and made me worry constantly about the future instead of being happy with the now. So I think it's your baseline mood rather than actual circumstances in your life (within reason) that allow you to be contented.

And as mrscog said, focusing on your own likes and desires and goals rather than wanting what someone else has is essential. If you're working towards your own, genuine goals, that come from within you rather than from an idea of what you think you ought to be doing, then you're not going to care what others are up to.

TylerHopkins Wed 24-Jul-13 16:07:33

Other people's possessions do not matter to me in the slightest. If a friend buys or boasts about a flash car then I ask the question why do they need a 'flash' car? If it's because they worked hard for it then I'm glad for them and can share in their happiness. If it's just to boast then I have pity on them because deep down they're really only seeking attention and acceptance from others.

tumbletumble Wed 24-Jul-13 16:08:43

I am a very happy content person and I think it may be genetic - my Dad is the most optimistic, sunny natured person I've ever met smile

ShesAStar Wed 24-Jul-13 16:08:57

I think if you've had your fair share of bad luck (numerous deaths in the family and a brain tumour) you appreciate what you have and love life in a way you can't before you come close to losing it.
I watch my friends and DSILs and feel frustrated because they appear to miss all the good stuff while they worry about all the meaningless crap. The only problem is I always plan for the short term now, I never dare plan long term because I feel I'm tempting fate!

toobreathless Wed 24-Jul-13 16:10:32

I am generally pretty content & people comment on it occasionally.

I think it is personality mixed with a large dollop of luck.

I am lucky to be in good health as is my family, happy marriage, two children conceived easily, good job & no money worries.

I'm just fortunate. I think being a 'homebod' helps, I have no burning desire to climb mountains or set Olympic records, earn lots of money. I'm happiest at home with the kids.

TylerHopkins Wed 24-Jul-13 16:11:57

Sometimes a surge of happiness comes over me and for that moment there and then I feel so happy with who I am and what I have. I know it's just a snapshot of the here and now because minutes later I can be brought back down to earth when a bill lands on the doorstep and a friend rings with bad news. Life changes constantly.

This thread is very inspirational smile

toobreathless Wed 24-Jul-13 16:12:08

I am generally pretty content & people comment on it occasionally.

I think it is personality mixed with a large dollop of luck.

I am lucky to be in good health as is my family, happy marriage, two children conceived easily, good job & no money worries.

I'm just fortunate. I think being a 'homebod' helps, I have no burning desire to climb mountains or set Olympic records, earn lots of money. I'm happiest at home with the kids.

toobreathless Wed 24-Jul-13 16:13:10

Oops...so content & posted twice!

YouTheCat Wed 24-Jul-13 16:15:02

Happiness has come with age, experience and no longer putting up with emotional leeches and petty bullshit.

And never take AIBU too seriously... that way madness lies. grin

Happiestinwellybobs Wed 24-Jul-13 16:17:21

I only said to DH the other week that I finally feel content with my life. I am 36. I don't live in a massive house or have wow holidays, and whilst do drive a nice car, could live without it.

If I look back say 6 years ago, we had loads more money, stayed in hotels at the drop of a hat and went on some VERY wow holidays. I wasn't content.

But I now have DD (after many years of trying) and it has changed my whole outlook on life. I work part time which means I'm not rushing around all the time. I am at my happiest pottering in the garden, feeding the ducks. Having a great family, friends and neighbours around me helps. I am a naturally anxious person, having suffered with depression and panic attacks frequently. Whilst I still have moments of anxiety it is nothing compared to what it was.

I honestly put it all down to adopting DD. My outlook on life has changed dramatically.

BastardDog Wed 24-Jul-13 16:18:07

I don't suffer with envy, but I do find it hard to live in the moment. There always seems to be something just on the horizon that I feel I will be happier when it happens. For instance at the moment it's the kids going back to school. I have an attitude of getting through the next seven weeks and then I think I'll be happier rather than just enjoying the now as best as I can. That's just an example, but while I'm waiting for the next 'thing / event / change of circumstances' my life is going by. I'm in a perpetual state of waiting and that can create unnecessary anxiety.

On the positive side though now I'm a bit older I do try to notice the little things every day that make me happy, watching a bird, noticing the clouds, noticing a small child having fun or an old couple holding hands for example.

The most serene and content person I have ever met was a nun who I met in a work capacity a few dozen times. She'd had happy and sad times in her life like the rest of us, but her faith gave her an unshakeable rock solid base that underpinned everything.

I also worry far too much about what other people think which makes me try and be brilliant at what ever I do. Obviously I fail. I'd love to care less about what others think of me.

waterlego Wed 24-Jul-13 16:18:57

Like a previous poster, I think a lot of it is tied in with self-esteem. I used to feel discontented and on edge a lot of the time and always focused on what other people were doing with their lives and if they were 'better' than me. Whether they looked better; were better mothers than me; were cleverer, slimmer, more ambitious, had a healthier diet...I could get fixated on almost any aspect of others and what made them 'better'.

My focus has begun to shift in the last few years, I'm not really sure how or why but suspect that it's partly aging that has helped.

And I have had another huge shift recently. My not-elderly, healthy and active parents have both become terminally ill. Mum diagnosed in January; Dad 4 weeks ago. My perspective on everything has changed. Getting through each day alive, supporting my parents and doing the best for my children are suddenly the most important things. The only important things. Any opportunities to smile/laugh/hug someone...all are treasured; because I realise how important they are now that I really know how precious and fragile life is.

SirChenjin Wed 24-Jul-13 16:19:38

I'm not at all bothered about material possessions - a slightly bigger house would be nice for our growing brood and enough money so that we could do more in the way of travelling and having adventures, but other than that I really don't care. However, I don't feel content because I haven't done what I wanted to do with my life. I fell into the course I did at university, have a good job as a result which doesn't really fulfill me, don't live in the kind of place I envisaged bringing a family up in, and haven't travelled much. Sadly, life just kind of took over and before I knew it we had a big mortgage and the kids were settled in school.

DH is very content, but sometimes I feel so frustrated I could scream. I cling to the hope that one day, when the kids have finished with the exam stage, we can do the things I wanted to do - and hopefully then I'll feel content.

TylerHopkins Wed 24-Jul-13 16:21:25

Oh waterlego I'm so sorry about your parents sad

We're all here to offer you support at any time.

raisah Wed 24-Jul-13 16:26:14

I have learnt to be content with my lot in life but it hasn't been easy. However I am much happier now then I was 10 years ago. I think as you mature & grow older certain things don't hold your attention in the same way as it used to. I have had my ups & downs with deaths, redundancy and so on but I have accepted (reluctantly!) that I can't change people or events bur I can alter the way I respond to them. Sometimes you have to look at a problem upside down to find the answer.

Failing that Mark Harmon on NCIS & a box of chocs is all I need really!

Dilidali Wed 24-Jul-13 16:29:22

Ever heard of no8 fencing wire mentality? This is my secret, I live by it. All the pieces of all the puzzles fell into one place in one fell swoop.
It's an inexpensive piece of metal that fixes everything. I am me, there is no other prop, the answer to any problem lays on me, my trial and error and my stuborness. There is no 'no can do', nobody but me can tell me where my limits are.

Look it up smile

NotAnotherPackedLunch Wed 24-Jul-13 16:29:38

I'm a lot more content now I've made the conscious decision to not watch adverts and avoid reading glossy 'aspirational' magazines.
Good marketing is designed to make you discontent with what you have so that you'll upgrade to whatever product is being promoted. Cutting it out of our lives has been very easy and very positive.

grovel Wed 24-Jul-13 16:30:46

In a word - wine.

HTH

grovel Wed 24-Jul-13 16:31:32

And good quality coffee, of course.

waterlego Wed 24-Jul-13 16:33:11

Notanotherpackedlunch I was going to say something similar re advertisments and glossy mags but forgot. I don't watch much telly either so most celeb/media type stuff passes me by. Avoiding all that shite really helps.

Thank you Tyler, that's really kind.

mrscog Wed 24-Jul-13 16:34:15

YY to notanotherpackedlunch I gave up magazines 2-3 years ago to save money (realise that I was probably spending £100 per year on adverts!). I think it's really improved my happiness.

Owllady Wed 24-Jul-13 16:36:20

it's drinking a bottle of cold cava after a chinese takeaway

grovel Wed 24-Jul-13 16:37:18

Good thinking, Owllady.

NotAnotherPackedLunch Wed 24-Jul-13 16:38:21

grovel I'm with you on the good coffee too.

I know that feeling of discontent OP and it is miserable. I lived like that for years and probably still would if we hadn't had our second child born with complex disabilities and life limiting epilepsy.

I'm not saying your world needs to come crashing down around you for you to gain 'enlightenment' but for me it was a life changer.

Life is on the surface of it much much harder than it ever has been, emotionally, physically, financially etc, but I am very happy and content with my life. It took having DS for us to leave the south east (where IMO a lot of people are constantly striving for material things/status and therefore there is a cloud that hangs over it) and move 200 miles west to the coast. Looking out at the sea every day, the lighthouse flashing in the bay and the moon shining down on the sea at night has also changed the way I think about life.

Ditto magazine habit. Misery on glossy paper!

LupeVelez Wed 24-Jul-13 16:42:37

I think life fluctuates. There have been times when I've felt I'm free from various unhappinesses (if that's a word) and everything is lovely, but it doesn't last, and then things change again. People who are more driven might be able to change things more, maybe. I seem to be a bit of a fatalist.

encyclogirl Wed 24-Jul-13 16:43:24

I always seem to be striving for the next thing.

I have a lovely family life and that gives me enormous contentment, but I am very restless in other ways. I wish I could just sit and 'be' for a while.

stuckonsmallrock Wed 24-Jul-13 16:45:59

Westiemama & Waterlego both put it perfectly for me. Waterlego my situation isnt exactly the same as yours but not far off - it is amazing how it changes your perspective on life.

I also never read magazines or watch much TV (apart from Cbeebies!)

PoodleFlavouredFreddos Wed 24-Jul-13 16:54:58

I such an anxious, worried, control freaky person I get worried that i will never feel content, but striving for contentment is what keeps me fighting through the awfulness of all the anxiety - I know what I want out of life & I think if I fight hard enough I'll get there. my DP drives me around the bend as he isn't content (we have had a lot of very hard and sad times lately, and everything is a bit shit) but he seems to think everything will be okay because that is how it should be, but he won't fight to get there. he just sits and wait for everything to fix itself. I think people who are not content, can be, but I think it takes effort.

Oblomov Wed 24-Jul-13 16:58:04

I find it hard to find enjoyment.
I just trot along with every day life. Mostly fine. Going on nursery days out, or end of term picnics.
But I don't seem to be able to take much PLEASURE out of these things. And I can't quite put my finger on why. which makes me even more worried about what is actually wrong with me........
goes off to ponder. I know this is not good, but not sure what I need to change to alter this.

Bumblequeen Wed 24-Jul-13 17:02:52

I often feel discontented; that others have better lives, jobs and are more loved/liked than me. I Definitely have self esteem issues stemming back to my childhood.

I am unhappy that I am not working in the area I studied. I am not proud of where I am in life. I feel I should be earning more. I am so hard on myself and take the blame for things that are not my doing.

I do not like myself very much and never really have sad

Weaselicious Wed 24-Jul-13 17:09:08

Owllady - that's known as Chizz in our house and is a Friday night staple. Chinese and fizz. Can't beat it smile. I was talking about attitudes to life with a very dear friend the other night who's had more than her fair share of shit to deal with. I have too - I lost my father and my FIL within three months of each other, got made redundant, have been helping my mum who has MS and have recently had an ectopic. It's been dreadful. But. As my mate was saying, you have two options. Curl up and give up, or keep battling on and, like others have said, find joy in the small stuff. Do the stuff you love, love the ones you're with, and there's always room in my life for Anthony Di Nozzo smile.

Owllady Wed 24-Jul-13 17:13:16

dh has agreed we can have chizz tonight shock grin

I think going through shit does make you weigh up things better but I do think in some ways it can make you more frightened and often overwhelmed too. I think i am quite content though I think

My MIL always says rearranging your furniture often is a sign you are not content (wtf?!_)

Weaselicious Wed 24-Jul-13 17:16:33

Chizz on a Wednesday? That's just crazy talk!

Owllady Wed 24-Jul-13 17:18:14

last day of term weaslicious, last day of term grin

I don't think contentment is something to look for.

Sorry to go against the flow but I think striving is part of being human. Not being content is what drives discovery and creativity. It's a good thing.

Not being happy is not a good thing but content sounds too accepting to my mind.

I am happy (very) but hope I am never content - I always want to be on the edge looking for more, not necessarily more stuff but more experience, more fun, more knowledge....

and more chinese and fizz (though not sure about the order of those)

ShesAStar Wed 24-Jul-13 17:33:41

ThinkAboutItTomorrow - you can want more experiences, more fun, more knowledge but still be content. Without new experiences we may as well be dead!!

katydid02 Wed 24-Jul-13 17:40:25

Yes. I have no money and little time to do things for myself but I have a job that I love and a lovely family. I'd say I am fairly content smile I wouldn't change anything anyway.

Can you though? I though contentment was having everything you want or need?

middleclassdystopia Wed 24-Jul-13 17:53:55

I think capitalism tries to keep us in a state of want. I try to stay true to myself in that I really don't believe fancy cars and holidays matter.

I found my true self after coming through an abusive childhood. Cutting contact with my abusers was the biggest step I took to contentment.

I am introvert, a home person. I read and write. I have two children and a happy marriage. They are worth more than all the gold in the world.

cory Wed 24-Jul-13 17:55:46

I am sure contentment can include being content with your own aspirations of learning more and achieving more.

Discontent can just as easily be paralysing. My mother has been affected by this through life, though being very easily content in terms of money and status. But despite being brilliant has never been able to settle to one field because that has always left her feeling discontent and insecure about not achieving in other areas. She doesn't have the basic placidity to stick to one area and do it well.

(not meaning she couldn't stick to a job, she has always been most conscientious; but if she had been a calmer person she could have done something BIG)

Owllady Wed 24-Jul-13 17:57:40

it must be more than that, it can';t mean everything, we have to break it down into smaller things....

Contentment is
the third day of your annual holiday
sitting on top of a hill with your dog and looking down
snuggling under the duvet with wriggly children
just finishing watching a good film
finishing a good book
anything cava related
on so on

add your own <bossy>

SophiaStantonLacy Wed 24-Jul-13 17:58:31

I remember my mother declaring contentment as the ultimate goal in life and thinking how sad that was. Now, at the ripe old of age of 42, I think she was spot on.

I think the trick is mindfulness - noticing when you are happy. Happiness is a fleeting thing, contentment is more enduring. So if you can be mindful in the midst of a busy life, you learn to spot those little moments of happiness. Feeling the sun on your back when hanging out the washing, the feeling of a small warm hand tucking into yours on the school run, the swing of a beloved child's hair as she dances in the garden to a tune only she can hear - at the risk of being nauseatingly Pollyanna-ish, its noticing these things that bring me pleasure. And each little noticing builds to a cumulative state of contentment. It is something that you can practice - a little daily reflection for 5 minutes will bring the revelation of that days happinesses.

Other fundamentals - for me - are exercise and yoga, not watching too much TV or reading glossy magazines, having some form of creative outlet be it gardening or sewing or cooking and finally contributing to a community or volunteering. From those you get health, immunity to social aspiration, creativity and altruism. All adds up to contentment.

123bucklemyshoe Wed 24-Jul-13 18:02:42

So...I'm going to risk sounding trite - deciding to be happy is a start. You can still strive, e.g. I am doing a MA ...it is just done from a different perspective. It probably won't make me richer and I will be different because of the experience...it just won't make me happier.

I'm content with what I have - mainly my gorgeous DCs (though not a possession I know !), my home and garden, a few possessions which mean something to me (but not many), a car that goes and plays Classic FM !

What makes me a little discontent is the quality of my relationships (mainly with DH - also DCs at times) and my frustration at the difficulty of finding rewarding work for which I'm appreciated (just a little !) - perhaps I'm expecting too much of work, though I don't think I'm expecting too much from my relationships smile It's all about relationship and experiences for me.

Also, after 14 years of parenthood (and it's largely domestic world) I would like to widen my horizons a little. I love travelling and have a wanderlust itch !

ShesAStar Wed 24-Jul-13 18:12:45

ThinkAboutIt- you can be content within yourself. I.e enjoy your holidays and not worry that someone somewhere had a better one or enjoy your days without feeling you are missing out. If you are content you will have a new experience and enjoy it for what it was - if you aren't you will have a new experience and feel it was a let down, or you may feel someone else who was with you on the experience was having a better time than you.

MrsHoarder Wed 24-Jul-13 18:31:43

Its a mindset. Deciding that the small child refusing to go to sleep means more cuddles rather than focusing on less wine.

And I still strive, I'm loving the chance to do an msc atm, being intellectually stretched and developing my own work

BrianTheMole Wed 24-Jul-13 18:43:05

Its about not worrying what other people think of you, as well as seeking the positives, however shitty the situation.

Happiestinwellybobs Wed 24-Jul-13 18:43:08

Owllady

- Getting up before everyone else on a sunny Sunday morning and sitting with a cup of tea whilst the dog potters round the garden
- Watching DD and dog playing together
- DD when she has just woken up
- First night in a clean bed

qumquat Wed 24-Jul-13 18:48:51

I'm a lot more content than I used to be, I was discontent and pretty miserable for many years.

Things that have helped:

NEVER compare, EVER! If I catch myself comparing myself to others (good or bad) I give myself a good talking to

Mindfulness meditation (read Full Catastrophe Living/ 5 Minute Meditator/Thich Nhat Hahn books) - also recommended in recent TV programme on how to change from a pessimist to an optimist

When I'm dwelling on something bad that happened that day, I force myself to focus instead on the good thing, eg. yesterday some oaf shouted 'massive boobies' out of a van at me and made me feel like shit, but then the garage hoovered the inside of my car for me when they were fixing the air bag - I had to force myself to focus on the good one but it worked!

Similarly, if I'm dwelling on all the bad things I've experienced, I try to counteract them and think of good memories, even if those are weaker or more distant, I remind myself they are still there.

It's a daily battle but I feel like it's mainly working at the moment.

jellybeans Wed 24-Jul-13 19:25:50

I'm content and agree with the person who mentioned difficult life events and feeling grateful for what you have. This is what made me re evaluate life. Having 2 stillbirths and 2 m/c I am so grateful for my living DC. Nothing else matters; jobs, holidays etc. I am happy with the simple things in life. I am not materialistic and happy with my lot. I am totally fine with friends having more probably as am happy in my own life. And we are not well off, small house share a car etc. I am a SAHM which helps as it is what I feel is right for us. I am not saying that is right for everyone though!! I know some people get contentment from working and I may well do so at some stage. I think though being happy with your choices helps.

sazzle82 Wed 24-Jul-13 20:12:07

I'm by no means fully content all of the time, but I am far more content overall than I have ever been before. Part of this is having pretty much rebuilt my confidence after a rough time with 3 m/c and being bullied by my boss at the same time a few years ago. It's like when you first feel well after feeling sick, you feel REALLY well and that memory of how bad things can get has stayed with me.

The other reason is a course I went on through work and we were being told about an inspirational man who was now running marathons after having lost his legs in a landmine. The point being made was that you choose how you react and how you feel about everything. You can't always help what happens, but you can choose your reaction. It really clicked with me and I try to follow that as best I can.

brightnearly Wed 24-Jul-13 20:40:47

In my mind, contentment and comfort somehow conflate, and happiness and gratefulness, so feeling content seems more fleeting and difficult than feeling happy.

And I would think only babies can feel totally contented; later in life there are always things one might miss or wish for that to have a lasting feeling of contentment there needs to be a measure of resignation. I don't think that is a positive feeling - or is it, maybe??

Somewhere I read something on envy which stuck with me, that with every talent, advantage or possession there comes some burden, too; and also that everyone has their unique gifts to give and, nobody is superfluous. Better to enjoy the beauty and gifts of others and share the burdens.

I think feeling happy is my baseline, I'm sometimes contented, and also worry, feel frustrated, angry and hopeless sometimes...

Kiwiinkits Wed 24-Jul-13 20:57:16

Quasi scientific response.
I think contentment is a brain-wiring thing, and it's set down in early childhood (0-3 years old). If you were loved and cared for by someone who was consistent, warm, responsive you're more likely to take feelings of contentment into adulthood. On the flipside if you were cared for by multiple people, inconsistent and unresponsive then your young brain had to develop in a way that was ultra sensitive to stress, feelings of not-quite getting what you need.

Kiwiinkits Wed 24-Jul-13 21:01:47

I want chizz now, dammit (only 9am here, and a Thursday, so it will have to wait).

HearMyRoar Wed 24-Jul-13 21:08:14

I've suffered anxiety and depression in the not so distant past but would now say I am pretty content most of the time. I reached a very low point and was forced to realise that unless I took drastic steps I was going to end up in rather a pickle. the things that changed it for me really do sound terribly trite and a little sickly but they did work, so what can you do.

1) I got very lucky and found the right man who would give me understanding and support without any drama or judgement.
2) I made a very conscious decision to stop worrying and getting angry about things. particularly things I can't do anything about.
3) I realised that there are things about me that are just not going to change however much I would like them to, but that this is fine and does not make me a failure
4) in a last ditch attempt to stop being anxious all the time I took up meditation. Much to my surprise it worked where all else had failed. Who would have thought it.

ThisIsMummyPig Wed 24-Jul-13 21:16:18

I have a job I enjoy, children I love, a home that we own outright, and a hobby I really enjoy.

Sometimes I'm really content, most of the time I'm just really busy, but I'm very rarely discontent. When I am discontent its nearly always because I'm trying to do too much

I haven't stopped striving, I'm always trying to help the kids do better, do more interesting things in my hobby and so on.

However, I don't really care what I look like (I would like to be fitter, rather than thinner, and that's about health) I don't worry if the house is a mess, we don't have expensive holidays or cars. I know people look down at our house because we are on a council estate, but it's not a priority to me.

Of course if one of us lost our job I would probably be very different.

I am very content but it has only come to me relatively recently.

Growing older helps you to really understand that all things will pass, the crap that today has dealt you will be forgotten tomorrow.
I am very calm and relaxed and deep thinking. This seems to stop the immediate discontent that I feel, and helps me to process it and work through why I feel discontent. Usually you would not swap your own life for someone else's.
The biggest thing that makes me content, though, is random acts of kindness. I am happiest doing something for someone else. Not huge, life changing things, just tiny little things. That is what makes me truly happy. On other threads I could be called a people pleaser or a doormat or sanctimonious or do-gOoder. sad

Thank you for this lovely thread tailtwister

scottishmummy Wed 24-Jul-13 21:19:44

I'm extremely happy with my lot,yes.I value what I have and I'm pretty relaxed
Nothing fell in my lap,no bank of mum&dad - worked hard to be where I am
I have good health,healthy family,I'm solvent,good pals.so yes thumbs up from me

marriedinwhiteagain Wed 24-Jul-13 21:28:29

My philosophy is that every cloud has silver lining and my glass is always half full; never half empty. I know I am lucky but I don't think luck comes purely by chance - it is what we make. Also, I'm not a moaner and I don't care what others have. I have buried a child and a part of me always thinks - well I wouldn't have this wonderful third child if a tragedy hadn't happened. Sorry I know that sounds trite but I could be bitter rather than just sad.

BaconAndAvocado Wed 24-Jul-13 21:29:31

I feel extremely grateful for my lot and, although I don't follow any organised religion, I'll often thank God/someone up there/my lucky stars for what I have in my life.

To be very very honest I often feel an embarrassment of riches and wonder when the shit will hit my personal fan......

deleted203 Wed 24-Jul-13 21:30:25

I am content with life, but I'm pretty easy going and laid back. I don't know if there is a secret to it. I genuinely am not very interested in new clothes, new car, posher house sort of stuff. Am vaguely amused by 'competitive' anything (parenting, career boasting, etc). And I suspect being idle and inclined to drift happily through life without giving much of a shit about the untidiness of my house means I don't stress much about things.

I do often focus on how I'm feeling with a genuine sense of cheerfulness. I'm the type of twit who can be wandering down the street in the sunshine thinking, 'this is LOVELY! I'm really happy at this moment'. I also often find myself thinking, 'Ha! I'm sitting in the garden when I could actually be ironing/at work/doing something useful. Isn't this fab?'

I think it probably is a mindset. I'm a glass half full sort of person.

SlangWhanger Wed 24-Jul-13 21:31:30

For me contentment is

Making a concious effort to appriciate what I have
A stable and happy family
Doing things for other people
Doing things for myself
Learning things
Achieving things (not nessecerily important things, I leaned the bins and the patio today and made a lovely supper)
Being active and as healthy as possible. Sport is v important to me
Compartmentalising crappy stuff (like my shitty brother)

qualitytoffee Wed 24-Jul-13 21:31:58

I love my son, my home my friends, but i have nothing of material value, well nothing thats important to anyone else...why?
Because one thing i've learnt is that everyone else worrys about their needs no matter if they're millionaires, or paupers. Its Human Nature. It took a while for me to get it..but my Nana who was very wise taught me not to judge, just be happy with you. She was a very frugal lady who was compassionate and kind, shes dead now, but she's always there.
If you can look yourself in the eye every day, well then, to me, you're doing a brilliant job xxxx

scottishmummy Wed 24-Jul-13 21:36:08

I'm content because ive also made it through hard times,and that's shaped me
I wouldn't have chosen to experience these things but stoically I have
I have learned together we are stronger.and we are

shufflehopstep Wed 24-Jul-13 21:38:02

I'm fairly content. That's not to say that I'm happy with every single bit of my life. In fact if I were to list everything that I'm not happy with, it'd look pretty depressing but I think it's the way you look at it and to do with which bits are the most important to you. The most important bits for me are great and so the other things don't worry me as much. I either accept that they're out of my control so not worth worrying about or in my control and if they bother me that much, I can work out what I'm going to do about it.

Morebiscuitsplease Wed 24-Jul-13 21:47:02

Feel very contented. I still have dreams (nightmares) that I am not with DH or in my old,job. Having suffered depression, been very
Lonely and had a job which I enjoyed but sucked me dry, I truly appreciate having DH, my lovely part time job and gorgeous DC. Feel so blessed. Life throws us challenges, redundancy, illness but we are lucky. As they the saying goes, happiness is a way of life not a destination. We don't live in a big house, as would rather have savings and spare cash. No fancy cars either. smile

Snugglepiggy Wed 24-Jul-13 21:59:53

Thank you so much for this thread.I have been feeling a bit down,withdrawn and reflecting on a recent tough time the last few days when really there are so many good things to be thankful for.My perspective just got skewed.
Like Scottishmummy going through a turbulent time has only made me feel more content with the small and simple things. A walk and a good natter with a friend.Nursing a cup of coffee and taking a small chunk of time out to myself.A funny text from one of my lovely DDs .Time spent cuddling my lovely old dog who loves me unconditionally.A soak in the bath with a good book.Doing competitive crosswords with DH -him on the IPad and me with paper and pen and seeing who finishes first.Wild eh?!
Think one thing from this thread I need to hold onto is to stop worrying and getting angry about things I can't do anything about,or that happened and I can't change.Then I would be even more content.

Viking1 Wed 24-Jul-13 22:22:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BridgetBidet Wed 24-Jul-13 22:38:43

I am kind of lucky because it took me 12 years and a lot of fertility treatment to have my son. After struggling so long and then having him (he is 16 months now) I think I am probably as close to contentment as I ever will be. It's kind of like winning the lottery in some ways.

Smugsmuggler Wed 24-Jul-13 22:40:14

I work in the frontline of the health service and every day see people whose lives have turned on a dime and imploded. They and their families will never ever fully recover from the effects of the car crash, the fall, the rape, the heart attack..these things happen to someone, somewhere everyday.
And every day I thank Christ for the utterly blissful boringness of my life...which doesn't mean I can't be pissed off when I get a parking ticket or my neighbour's dogs wake up at 5am, but it does mean I know what box to put all that trivial shit in.

SlangWhanger Wed 24-Jul-13 23:15:54

Smugsmuggler. That a great post and very true.

qualitytoffee Wed 24-Jul-13 23:21:35

smugs xx thats it xx

Dfg15 Wed 24-Jul-13 23:43:59

i'm content. i'm divorced, got my own place, have two lovely daughters that I see regularly. I have a well paid job, its pretty boring, but its a job. My life isnt very exciting, but its what I want and what I enjoy. I do what I want, went I want and its great. I have a handful of very good friends and thats all I want really. More money would be good, but I make do with what I have.

alwaysinamuckingfuddle Wed 24-Jul-13 23:50:47

I'm content.

42 now and have grasped it in the last couple of years. I have stepped off the career treadmill and am currently doing a creative (poorly paid) job. I now have time to pootle around in charity shops, shop for food every day or so and cook from scratch. My house is now permanently clean and tidy. I have a great DH.

I also stepped away from Facebook and LinkedIn. I've stopped comparing myself to other people and that helps a lot!

apatchylass Thu 25-Jul-13 00:08:07

hi OP,

I'm very content. In my mind I have everything I've ever wanted: great career, great kids, home, loving husband, brilliant stuff to do in spare time. So much so that almost every day I catch my breath at some point and think: wow - how did I get this lucky?

Looked at through a more negative lens I could say I'm badly overweight with health problems, DH is out of work and has been for some time, the house is a tip and needs repairs we can't afford, I'm not that close to my family and don't have vast numbers of close friends. But even writing that feels very odd, because although it's all true, it's just not how I feel about life - it's very far from what I focus on. I love our big old scruffy home full of pets and plants and books and music. I love my big old scruffy husband, even though he is a grump who brings in very little money, because he's great with the kids and does his share of housework and is very funny and reliable and great at bear hugs and singing silly songs. The DC are brilliant and cuddly and funny and cute.

And so on.

You're right, it's a mindset and it is learnable to some degree. Lots of discontented people won't do the work that leads to contentment. I give thanks every day. You don't have to have faith, or thank anyone or thing in particular, but just list, consciously, on paper, in prayer or in your head, last thing at night all the small good things about that day. Do it every day. It helps you focus on the good stuff. Then it becomes second nature to do so, and the bad stuff loses its power over your happiness day to day.

Quit bitching, gossiping and hanging around people who bitch and gossip. These really do drain you. Keep an ear out for contented people and spend longer chatting to them.

Best advice I was ever given about envy: envy is a good thing. It's a way of learning what you'd like out of life. If you envy one person's home, not someone else's, it's because there's something about that home you aspire towards. Same with career/relationship etc. So you can then take steps to have similar, do similar work, behave in a similar way with people around you. Envy helps you focus on what you want most out of life.

Obviously if you envy six foot tall brunettes and you're five two and blonde, that's envy for something you can't get, but you can still transform that envy into a more useful emotion. It tells you you're not accepting of yourself, so you can then work on ways to feel better about who you are, as well as ways to look better in the skin you're in.

Roof over our heads, food, clothes for the kids.

Anything else is gravy.

thebody Thu 25-Jul-13 00:17:47

wine!!!

LadyLech Thu 25-Jul-13 00:27:29

I'm another one who is content with my lot.

I live in an affluent area, and I would say that 90% of the mums at the school gate have bigger houses / better cars and so on than me. Yet, I'm not concerned with any of that.

I think for me, it was the realisation that when you scratch beneath the veneer of these so called 'perfect families', life is actually far from perfect - perhaps some have marital problems, affairs and the like, or the husband works very long hours, or is away a lot, or issues with parents or inlaws, or problems with children. Practically everyone has got their 'issues'. I also think for every positive, there is often an accompanying catch. For example, those who have the very big houses also tend to have husbands who work long hours / works away a lot and so on to pay for it. Life is perfect for very few people, just some cover it up better than others grin.

As for me, I have a happy marriage, well behaved children who are both clever little things, an interesting and rewarding job. Yes, I get tired with the long hours, yes I've got a small house, yes, I wish I had more disposable income. But I'm content because for me, the fundamentals are right (good marriage, lovely kids, good job and enough money). Of course there's always more. I see amongst my friends who are much better off than me, there is still 'more'. However, all the money / houses / cars in the world won't make you happy if the fundamental things in life aren't right.

My nan is in her 80s. She usually hasn't got two pennies to rub together, but she has a large family who all regularly pop in to see her, and do whatever she wants. She regularly says that she thinks she's a millionaire because of she's got the main thing that's important to her - family. I think that's a nice attitude.

burntthedinner Thu 25-Jul-13 01:45:58

Being accepting of what happens makes me content - it doesn't matter what it is or what other people have so long as I don't blame myself for either having stuff or not having it.
Taken a while to get to this point though.

Annakin31 Thu 25-Jul-13 04:39:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Annakin31 Thu 25-Jul-13 04:42:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

I think I'm pretty content, my only ambition is to see my children well and happy (touch wood), I would like to be able to give my children a bedroom each but can't afford to, but I don't let it eat me up. Accept what is, and enjoy what you have rather than concentrating on what you don't.

tholeon Thu 25-Jul-13 06:25:38

Being constantly aware of how lucky I am to have been born where and when I was, rather than say two hundred years ago or in Afghanistan.

Having two lovely children after years of infertility.

Puts all the small stuff in perspective.

I am content, finally, and do you know how I got there? By having the worst year of my life and nearly losing everything. I've said it before and I'll say it again - sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to appreciate what you really have.

So for anyone struggling take a long hard look at what you have, and now imagine how you feel if you lost it all.

PedantMarina Thu 25-Jul-13 06:58:23

It's not a binary, it's a scale.

I was watching Extras the other day (the "Christmas" one, where Andy is famous (lead in a sitcom, got a catchphrase and everything), but Not Famous Enough, and his friend tries to talk sense into him that nothing will ever be enough, and he doesn't geddit. I think he's at an extreme end of a scale. I used to be like this (apart from rich & famous, of course). Now I'm a bit more content, but nowhere near what I'd like to be.

And I agree that sometimes having children makes you less content, like, on their behalf. You want a better life for them, and it throws into sharp relief if your own life isn't where you want it to be. Most of my discontent days is knowing that through a confluence of events, it may well be that we'll NEVER be able to buy a house for DS to inherit, for instance.

Back2Two Thu 25-Jul-13 07:36:31

I spent many years being very discontented. I think it was an emotional need that wasn't met.

I didn't know what I wanted and therefore wasn't aiming for a goal...I've never been career minded and I've never really been into material things very much at all so I wasn't craving those things.

I had a very unsettled childhood/early adulthood and, although I was popular enough, I always felt "out of place" I guess my discontentment was very much being envious of other people's confidence and the fact that everyone else seemed to just "know" how to live and be happy.

I partied a lot through my discontentment...but I did some good things too, like travelling and getting a professional qualification.

Because my mum and dad were not happy together I don't think I knew to aspire to a happy relationship. I never wanted marriage or children....I was violently independent but really it was the emotional side of life that I was craving stability in.

I did go to counselling and try to sort my head out and I don't know if that helped. In the end I met my dh when I was travelling and we now have two gorgeous boys.

Like some other people, I genuinely feel shocked sometimes at how lucky I am. I think I expected so little so I now feel I have so much. I'm full of love for my family, I have friends from my party days and new friends who don't need to know what I used to be like.....I (mostly) have confidence in myself, my body, the way I dress. Being a wife and mother has given me roles in life that I love so I know "who" I am now.

I've always been very lucky in that I've never known poverty or really struggled with money. Now, we both work and we have money....not stacks of it but we have a nice house in a nice little community part of a city. We don't care much about flashy material things but we have the luxury of choosing not to care about them!

I don't read magazines or watch TV so I don't see many ads or music videos and stuff that portrays images of women that I could never be like.

I'm really really content with my day to day life and don't look too much further than the next weekend.

Sometimes I wish I looked younger....

Back2Two Thu 25-Jul-13 07:42:03

I had PND really badly twice .... I think I still look at my children with absolute wonder and amazement because the first months of both their lives were fairly horrendous emotionally for me. It was so black that to get out of that and be where i am now still has a positive impact.

Cherrypi Thu 25-Jul-13 08:16:10

I think the secret is have something bad happen to you to make you appreciate life. Have an introverted personality. Avoid advertising. Have enough money to cover the basics easily. Have realistic expectations.

RedBushedT Thu 25-Jul-13 08:32:46

I'm a contented person. I think a lot of it is mindset. I always look for the best in everything, and by that I mean that I actively look for the positive in every day, in every person I meet and everything I'm doing.
As a few others have mentioned, following bereavements it gets easier to find contentment as you are naturally more mindful. I found that after certain relatives died, I really wanted to make changes to my life. So I did! smile
I have a very optimistic (naive) temperament and I like looking for ways to improve my life and others.
As others have said, it's not about having stuff. Following my divorce money is extremely tight, but if you try hard enough there is joy to be found in the balancing of a budget! Look, I didn't over spend! grin
Find joy in the little things
And regarding the jealousy thing, just let it go. I have a few friends who are extremely wealthy. I don't worry about it. I can't compete with them financially, but they want to be friends with me despite my poverty Lol. I hope it's because I'm a warm, nice and caring person. I'm not jealous of what they have, I am happy that they are comfortable and I use it as something to aspire to..

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Thu 25-Jul-13 08:43:51

Back2 said "I spent many years being very discontented. I think it was an emotional need that wasn't met." And Cherry said "I think the secret is have something bad happen to you to make you appreciate life."

Very interesting. I can't remember when I was content. I think you're right about it being an emotional need. For me, I think the emotional need is sharing a bond with someone and going through both good times and bad times together. The fact they go through the crap and stick with you is what can help bring contentment, that you're not doing it alone.

In terms of something bad happening to you making you appreciate life, it doesn't always work that way, I'm afraid. I have had so much death and disability with my closest friends and what little family I have in the last 18 years (I am now 39 and have been to the same number of funerals) you'd think I would value life hugely. I did for a while, but the more shit that gets heaped upon you and the people you care most about and you tend to think that, actually, life is very often rubbish.

Dededum Thu 25-Jul-13 08:47:17

I have just been diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis, all before my 45th birthday. That totally puts everything into perspective, life is just a little bit brighter and clearer.

Small things, managed to walk to my friends house, 10 minute down the road, have some wine and walk back without falling over, too much discomfort, that was an achievement. Now I don't bemoan the things that I can't do more celebrate the things I can do.

tumbletumble Thu 25-Jul-13 08:54:05

For me, it's not related to anything bad happening to me - I just seem to be a naturally content person and always have been.

cory Thu 25-Jul-13 08:54:15

I find both dh and I have become more contented since we had dd. Not just appreciating what we have, but because she has quite serious problems which are life long, so it becomes very clear that her attitude is going to have to carry her through. She has to have mindfulness because she can't afford not to. And the only people she can learn that from is us.

So I've had to become that person. The person who doesn't look over her shoulder at other people, the person who always comes up with a Plan B, the person who can think of a self deprecating joke at the grimmest of times.

It isn't about whether I feel appreciative or not. It's something I have to do, for dd.

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Thu 25-Jul-13 08:57:53

I should add that I don't envy other people or their possessions. I do have some lovely friends and I AM thankful for them.

I do wonder if some people are genetically or hormonally just naturally more content. I know some people who are totally and utterly content no matter what. They have no reason why, when I ask them. They say they just are and always have been generally content and happy.

cloudskitchen Thu 25-Jul-13 09:13:12

It's the age old grass is always greener...when in reality its really not. I grew up in a very affluent area of the country and I can quite honestly say a lot of my peers were no happier than anyone else. I think ambition it a great thing but with it comes a degree of disconnect because you arw always striving for the next goal, the old goal that was going ro be the one that would make you happy long forgotten. I am content these days as I admire and aspire to other people's lives. I also let my self be inspired by other people but I try not to covet what other people have as I have such a lot myself grin

ThreeTomatoes Thu 25-Jul-13 09:30:09

Great documentary- Status Anxiety

mainly I think, thinking about what you want, rather than what society expects of you

if your happy at home, then great

I don't think comparing yourself to people that have less/worse lives is a healthy thing or good so I don't agree with that

but just stop wanting things that you feel are the done thing
and seek what you want

and appricate things in your life

mam29 Thu 25-Jul-13 09:31:47

Very interesting thread.

I really wish I felt truly content.

I had very difficult unsettled childhood lost lost people which I think made me feel insecure.

so chapter 1 first 21years of life was mixed.

Then I met the man I loved and got married 2004 had a lovley wedding.

Worked in retail management something never enjoyed just fell into.

at 25 had 1st child, did go back work fulltime but couldent make it work we have no family or support structure here so its all on me.

Hubby has good job quite well paid compared to average but we far from rich we struggle most months,..

havent been abroad since 2005 since before eldest was born and really miss holidays had a few in uk some ok some not great.

we always planned 3kids and have 3kids 2 girls and a boy.
I find im always worrying about one of them.

we dont own a house and feel crappy about that we want to move but feel a bit trapped stuck couple freinds moved recently and although we happy for them also eel a bit sad and wonder when our time will come.

at 33 im stilll not passed driving test and people seem to make me feel crappy as I cant drive and say poor me.

Things on nearby agenda is october hoping for payrise.
2015 loan ends so will have more cash and decided that year will be 1st family holiday abroad.

I given up on idea of owning seems that ship has sailed.

but would love slighty bigger house in new area closer to schools and the shops as walk 3miles a day on school run and house is new build so only has 1 rception and the mess and clutter and constant tidying gets me down.On rare occasion mum visits she always has a go at me about the house rarly says what i dont well always what I done badly.

I try to be postive with kids. other day we were fruit picking at nursery in sunshine and felt content.

last summer holidays i realised i felt so much happier.

I have tried to make some positive changes over past year to try help.

I read less mags
watch less tv.
moved eldest to diffret school so im less worries and parants in playground less competative , showy and nicer people.
taken myself off through fb groups where people dident seem nice and rowed lost.
Restructed some freinds notifications so dont have to see their perfect lives in my news feed-most of time fb is false carefully edited life..
Met a couple people recently who not so nice and rather that let them bother me tried to move on their problem.

recently got down as 2uni freinds done so much better both emigrated one fab career other has had fab career and huge mansion make me feel bit lack luster.

Eldest has few wealthy freinds who live huge houses, flash cars, loads holidays and whinges at me shes 7, dont think she realises makes me feel bad many are only children.

All 3 kids have clubs and try take them as many places as can afford or get to.They not hard done by as much as she acts that way.

I like a pootle around shops, charity shops, carboots.

I like the sound of chizz. dident have huge celebration yesterday end of term as was tired and skint but todays payday so some well earned bubbly tonight and having relaxing day today.

Im looking forward seeing family in wales sunday for bbq if it doesnt rain.

Mams just rung uniform in aldis so got dd1 some so saves me alittle but still have shoe shopping with all 3 kids at the mall push me over the edge.

Life seems harder some days constantly mealplanning, lookig for bargains , going round sainsburys with list and realising how little 20quid gets me,Saying no to kids a lot.

But I will try and find the good and not feel so rubbish as I forgone career to bring up kids and hope that few years we can move and financially things get better as recent years every year we have less.

Going to try have good summer and try and chill a bit.

feel cosntantly tired but we all in good health.

my mind feels heavy with worry most days things undone play on my mind so need to take libary books back.

badguider Thu 25-Jul-13 09:50:34

I think it comes down to the corny: change what you can change, accept what you can't, and know the difference.

I am pretty content, because if something bothers me I change it. I come from a family where people get degrees at any stage of life (my mum about about 40, my dad at nearly 60) and embark on new careers... a family where people plan carefully then just do it if they want to change lifestyle... or where people are always taking up new hobbies or doing challenges (BIL and SIL just ran a half ironman, with young children). I have moved city for short-term work contracts that looked really exciting in the past and I am now self-employed.

I realise that these options are not real if you are very poor and having debts can be an inescapable trap. But I self-funded my first post-grad course through LOTS of crappy nmw work (more than one job at a time) so it's not like we're very priviledged. And in fact, goals can be more satisfying if you've worked like buggery to be able to afford them.

If you truly believe you can do what you set your mind to then it opens you up to really needing to think about what it is you want enough to work really hard for it. I think it's that thinking and knowing what you want that makes people content, not necessarily the getting of it.

badguider Thu 25-Jul-13 09:53:16

Somebody upthread recommended a documentary called Status Anxiety - this is also a book by Alain de Botton which I would recommend and there's Oliver James's Affluenza which is worth reading too.

cornflakegirl Thu 25-Jul-13 10:01:15

I am content. I think it's a mixture of being blessed in terms of relationships and material comforts, natural disposition and faith. But I'm not sure it's entirely a good thing - I think that people who change the world generally aren't content.

tumbletumble Thu 25-Jul-13 10:07:32

Ah, but is changing the world (or wanting to) a good thing...?

Latara Thu 25-Jul-13 10:14:51

I think I would be more content if I had more time - i'm 36 and still not married or have children. If I had another 10 years in which to plan those things then I would be happier.
As it is, it's a constant worry at the back of my mind that I may never get those things.

Also I've been very ill and want to get back to my career path.

I'm trying to live in the moment but it's very hard.

LindaMcCartneySausage Thu 25-Jul-13 10:22:38

Yes, I'm pretty content. I'm lucky in that we are very comfortably off, although funnily enough neither DH and i are very materialistic - we share a second hand car for instance. Life's just easier when you know you have enough money for a rainy day and university fees in the future.

It helps that there's nothing more I want in life, except possibly another DC, but that's very unlikely with our fertility issues. I have a lovely husband, two healthy and happy DCs, good relationship with our families, nice house in good area and decent jobs in careers we enjoy. DCs were born after many rounds of IVF so my dreams have already come true.

I'm happy in my own skin and accepting of what I am - I'd like to lose a little weight, but don't care that much. I've never been a worrier and honestly don't care what people think of me (although I do value the opinion of good friends and family).

Itstartshere Thu 25-Jul-13 10:28:28

For me it's about gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.

I have a lot of friends who live with chronic illness. I get back days, but if I'm feeling really sorry for myself, I think about what they're living with - the pain, the restrictions. And I get back to appreciating the small things.

It helps I had a brush with death, I now know just how incredible precious life is.

Back2Two Thu 25-Jul-13 10:29:08

Maybe true cornflake ....but I think I'm less self obsessed now that I am content. In small ways at least I might make a better impact on my immediate environment (and the people I meet)

Another thing I do is "freeze frame" bits of my day sometimes and try to really absorb it and acknowledge it. Usually something one or both of my boys are doing ....I try to think about the future when I'll be looking back at these very happy moments. I don't want to feel that I let happy times slip through my fingers. I also try to acknowledge that I may not always be so lucky health wise, or that things may indeed go wrong between dh and I ...again so I can have more appreciation of what I have now. Perhaps because I've been bought up a pessimist and yet I have finally "got lucky"!!

CheerfulYank Thu 25-Jul-13 10:52:12

I'm quite content.

I think it's a combination of innate personality, upbringing, and choice. I'm just a fairly positive, happy person, and I never wanted much. Just a little house and a great husband and kids to love, friends who make me laugh until it hurts, lots of books to read, a dog, flowers in the garden. I have all those things and they're easy to get. smile

Also my parents (and me) are very solidly Midwest Americans. We don't do neuroses, we don't do wallowing or whining or complaining about your lot. You get yourself up and do something about it, or you shut up about it, end of. The area where I grew up was heavily settled by Finns and sisu was a term thrown around a lot.

And I just choose to be happy. I want to be. I "count my blessings" so to speak. My brother is a terribly negative person who is never happy, and over the years I think much of my personality formed as a foil to his, if that makes sense.

Joskar Thu 25-Jul-13 11:07:11

I'm very content but I wouldn't describe myself as laid back. I shout at the radio, I hate my management team, I worry about my bank balance and all of the usual stuff. In no way am I a blissed out hippy! I just think that the good stuff in my life is more important than the bad stuff. My mother and sister are constantly stressing about what folk think of them and how much they haven't got done but I think you just have to be at peace with that. Everyone makes mistakes and the important bit is to learn from them not constantly beat yourself up about your shortcomings.

Something I think is important is that I tell my DH that I love him and he tells me. We tell each other how lucky we are. Vocalising the positives in your life reinforces them. When you see something good in your life say it out loud. If you just talk/think about the bad stuff in your life you'll forget about all the good things.

GlobalWarning Thu 25-Jul-13 11:16:15

I am content. I don't envy what other people have. My mum told me recently her cancer was terminal. Slapped me right on the arse so it did. Put my life in perspective. She is only in her 50s. And it is the saddest feeling I have ever felt, but I also feel lucky the time we have left will be full.

Don't cling to bad feelings, they only ever hurt you.

comingintomyown Thu 25-Jul-13 11:57:20

I wondered why, in my early forties with everything a person could ask for, I was discontented

I took myself off for hypnotherapy/psychotherapy to see if I could find out why.

It was a difficult couple of years of on off sessions but transformed my life

My marriage ended almost 4 years ago and all the effort I had put into my mental wellbeing paid off allowing me to come through pretty unscathed

Now I am fortunate to be attuned to the smallest things that give me great happiness mostly in nature.

I have material and spiritual wealth and most days thank my lucky stars that I am where I am.

I could focus on the fact I am single and have been since my divorce, I am quite fat and work FT in a job that MN would call crap. If my mind starts to go down there I remember all the good stuff

mam29 Thu 25-Jul-13 12:05:52

So sorry to hear that Global warming.

I often say to hubby and kids lifes just too short.

so try make best of what we have.

I recognise and realise when im stressed im more unhappy and shouty.

The finacial pressures recent years mean i lie in bed worrying.

Also another factor is the sibling one.

my younger sisters golden girl.

got better gcses, better a levels, travelled,found a wealthy man and on 2nd dgree to be a dentist so by time she qualifies she be minted and probably buy a very expensive house, have a lush wedding and already decided that sprogs wil be privatly educated shes quite snobby and required much greater financial support from parents more so that I did im very independent..

I dont regret moving away from small rural town at 1, going to uni.

but i regret doing the wrong degree, getting into wrong career.

My job i couldent balance kids with.

I looked into retraining as its 2nd degree its £9000 a year plus childcare and other costs so cant afford it.

I cant seem to find job that fits in around hubbys.

so i focus on kids, have few voluntary roles i know im doing a valuable job but feels like a thankless job and maybe this is all in my head but feel as if others look down on me especially working mums. High proportion affluent working mums here many have high earning hubbys, brought house back in day when houses cheap a chips, have family on hand for free childcare and work part time as teachers , term time stuff or self employed almost hobby like businesses its like the label of self employed gives them slightly higher status that just sahm.

As when you meet someone its where do you live, what do you do?

oh im sahm, who rents a shitty house and dont drive hardly seems impressive im ny head .

In my head i expected my 30s to be different some how thourght life would be getting easier i be comfortable, hubbys 40 so feels worse an still trying to owrk his way up career ladder.

I applied for lots temp xmas jobs and felt crap.
pre kids use to get loads of job offers,.
I feel like my stock has plumetted.
Lack of social life seeing freinds gets me down. quite a ew of my freinds still dont have kids.

maybe most of what i say is my hangups in my head and think people think that way about me.

I think facebook depresses me on daily basis but need it so family can see pics and its useful tool for finding out whats on and linking up with people.

will spend today tidying house , doing nursery run and try make list of fun thinks to do over the next week.

scottishmummy Thu 25-Jul-13 12:18:13

Contentment imo is being mindful of what one has,and able to compartmentalise the losses/disappointment
I didn't want to be wholly defined by upsets. I found diversion in study,work
I don't compare myself to anyone else.thats a game no one wins

Jdub Thu 25-Jul-13 12:56:31

I am content.
For whatever reason - probably upbringing based (my parents have been brilliant - always) I have always been a positive and optimistic type of person.

However, when my youngest was born, my red blood cells stopped working, and I was suddenly aware that I may not last to see my dc grow up. Having to think about writing 'letters for the future', and such things, sharply brings the goodness and richness of life into focus. And 4 years down the line, I am still ticking over with fully functioning blood! For that reason, everyday I am grateful, and content.

sherbetpips Thu 25-Jul-13 13:05:41

I have to talk myself into being contented. I often daydream and wish for things I havent got. As I have grown older I have realised that when I look at those who appear to be content or have everything, they often dont, everyone has issues and problems.
Last time I caught myself daydreaming I reminded myself how many other people would love my life, healthy kids, good job, nice car, nice house, brilliant husband. Who gives a crap about the stress and hassle work brings, hell of a lot more stress being unemployed and broke.

KinkyDorito Thu 25-Jul-13 13:07:35

Three Tomatoes have now spent a morning watching all of your link. Thank you for that - incredibly revealing and interesting.

happyreindeer Thu 25-Jul-13 13:19:04

Health! Love of my children well ds2 has autism so I do not think he actually loves me which is hard to admit,. and enough money to buy frivolities occasionally.

Bumblequeen Thu 25-Jul-13 13:20:24

Mam29 I understand so much of what you have written.

I too feel that the first thing people ask are what you do. This annoys me, unsure if it is due to not being where I feel I should considering I went to university. I do not feel proud of my career and had such higher hopes. I had a miserable time at school and lived to be a success to prove to myself that I made it.

I want to change careers but cannot afford to work pt or pay tuition fees. I feel stuck in my job and worried I will only ever earn a modest salary.
I really do not want to go on to be a 45/50 year old line managed by a recent university graduate of 24.
Dh is climbing the ladder at work and I support him.

We live in a nice but small home in a very modest area. I would like am desperate to move as it depresses me.

My dsis and a friend are literally obsessed with the careers of others. They discuss the status of friends of friends and how much they earn, the area they live in.

Pixiepie Thu 25-Jul-13 13:26:58

I am content with certain things. I am unhappy at others. I would love to have a bigger house but im grateful that i have what i have. I live in a fairly affluent area and feel very lucky about this, esp for my children but its really hard not to feel that people judge you by what you have. Everyone around me seems to strive for big lovely bought houses. If they arent talking about it, they are dreaming about it. I always feel ashamed because im in my forties and always think that people will expect me to have bought our house, big car etc etc... Instead we live in a four in a block and rent. I am lucky that both me and my dh have a good job but i work in a very stressfull field and feel, to some extent, that i am caught between a rock and a hard place. I cant change my job because there isnt any positions in what i do coming up....or they are too far away and i cant give it up because we need the money. So i find it very hard to be content...

DalstonDad Thu 25-Jul-13 13:43:51

I am incredibly fearful of contentment. It's right up there with early death on my list. I'm worried that if I feel content I won't bother doing anything else ever again. That I'll just stay at home with the kids all day, move to the 'burbs and tend to the garden.

cushtie335 Thu 25-Jul-13 13:48:59

You really remind me of a good friend of mine. She's a lovely woman but always wants something she hasn't got and thinks everything can be solved by retail therapy or going out and getting bladdered. She quickly realises this isn't the case and sinks into a depression or an anxious/panicky state about all the money she's spent and how pissed off with nearly every part of her life she is. To the outsider she "has it all", loving husband, nice house, 2 smart cars, good job, 3 holidays a year but it never seems to be "enough". On a night out once I remarked that I was "easily pleased" and she said that she wished with all her heart that she was too and that she could be more laid back like me. I confessed that I used to be like her until one of my closest friends died of Motor Neurone Disease and it really shook me up and made me realise what was important and what wasn't...the main one being able to breathe in and out!

cushtie335 Thu 25-Jul-13 13:52:11

..just to clarify, by "you", I meant the OP. I haven't read the whole thread but there are some very interesting posts from both points of view.

Davsmum Thu 25-Jul-13 14:05:36

The most contented people I know show gratitude for what they have and do not stubbornly resist things that they do not like - They accept them and then make positive steps to change them.
They are not competitive and they make the best of what they have.

Not having unrealistic expectations of others helps and accepting people as they are and letting go of people who are not good for them.

I am working on all of it because I fall a bit short on all that!

mam29 Thu 25-Jul-13 14:17:32

Bumblequeen-seems like we similar.

I think when we young we feel like anythings possible.
That we can have it all
That we can live the same life as parents who earn less but we cant.

The economys shifted know very high earning professional people who cant buy.

Only people i know who brought was with mummy and daddys help and dident have kids.

As childcares such a big expense.

Some things in life seen as given ahouse car seem to be main ones.

I hate the way people are so nasty and rude to no drivers like im clearly mental.

I hope i dont sounds depressed or miserable.
I love my husband we get on well he works a lot of hours striving for higher salary and area manager role .

I do try and savour the simple moments.

eldest winning sporst day yesterday
taking kids fruitpicking last weekend
getting a fab school report-made me feel like I done something right.
watching them happy at park.
having cuddles in bed with them chatting about their day.,

There are good amongst the bad.

On rare occasion me and hubby go out alone i enjoy ont do it much due to money,
I know they dont say money dont buy happyness but it would make life easier and less stressful if not shopping at 5diffrent supermarkets a month.

I think uk is quite materialistic country and many of my freinds and family its all about the house, the right school or your childs doomed, holidays, clothes and other stuff.

Sometime sucess in life is not always tangible most see sucess as a promotion in career or some signs of wealth house/car ect.

I really want a dog but landlord says no. That makes me bit sorrowful.

Im not jealous of freinds or family who done well just wonder at times whens our familys turn to catch a break as timing in life seems to be terrible i as 1st yera at uni that labour brought in student loans. I dident buy house when i should have, both em and hubby stayed in crap companies for too long.Now its wrong time to retrain had kids too early maybe, increase in tuition fees ad cost of open university shot up im always wrong place and wrong time I probably never will catch up but i think more space and less crappy house would dramtically improve our lives.

I dont necessrily ant best paid job but would love something part time that would fufill me.

poppydoppy Thu 25-Jul-13 14:35:56

For me being content is not linked to money or possessions. Seeing my children happy and health, beautiful sunsets, walks in the country, fishing by a river bring me more joy than anything else.

Back2Two Thu 25-Jul-13 14:42:01

I am incredibly fearful of contentment. It's right up there with early death on my list. I'm worried that if I feel content I won't bother doing anything else ever again.

I don't think contentment is synonymous with standing still and lacking goals.

You can be content whilst climbing Everest. Another person may be climbing Everest still seeking contentment. They may not feel content when they reach the top.
The content climber may still go on to climb 100 mountains and gain happiness and satisfaction from doing so.

Being content does not (IMO) mean that there is nothing else to gain. But you can be happy in the moment and appreciate all that you have without striving for something additional to fill up an empty feeling.

alreadytaken Thu 25-Jul-13 14:44:10

I'm reasonably content with my lot. Don't really know why except that I don't feel jealous of other people and I've always had confidence that if there was something I wanted I could work to get it. Of course as you get older you learn that there are some things you can't control (health issues especially) but you may also have friends who die young. Having friends die before retirement certainly puts many issues into focus.

It certainly isn't related to having a good childhood as mine wasn't.

Anyone in this country has had the luck to be born in a place where there is no war, a clean water supply that you don't have to walk miles for, with healthcare that is readily accessible and largely free. We're all lucky and perhaps those who feel more content simply focus on what they and not what they dont have.

TheBreastmilksOnMe Thu 25-Jul-13 14:50:26

Who wants to be 'content' all of the time? How bloody boring! I welcome the ups and downs in my life, I've been through tough stuff (who hasn't?) and learnt so much about myself, people and life in general that I don't fear change anymore. We need a certain degree of contentment but we also need some uncertainty in our lives or we don't grow, we just plod along.

If you are a very discontented person then you should stop looking outwards for happiness, read books on esotoric subjects, look deeper and not superficially at reality and search for more meaning in your life. Realising that I am in control of my life and bring the experiences (good and bad) into it has given me a great sense of freedom which I think is a lot better then desiring contentment.

Guiltismymaster Thu 25-Jul-13 14:58:41

Don't forget that happy doesn't mean ecstatic.
You don't have to be constantly jovial and you shouldn't put pressure on yourself to apear that way.
If you feel 'ok', that's OK.

Davsmum Thu 25-Jul-13 15:01:14

Being content doesn't mean you don't have ups and downs or do not go through tough stuff or face uncertainty
I agree with you - many of the most difficult things in our lives teach us so much and can actually lead us into a more contented life.

People who are most content often handle life's ups and downs much better.

poppydoppy Thu 25-Jul-13 15:02:04

Negativity breeds negativity. Surround yourself with happy positive people, watch feelgood TV or movies (Pollyanna LOL), find out what makes YOU happy, eat healthily, get plenty of sleep, go for long walks. You cant just BE happy, you have to make yourself happy.

Sonotkylie Thu 25-Jul-13 15:14:24

Until fairly recently, I was very discontented and resentful too. I was / am a SAHM by choice having had a well paid achieving career. DH works long hours. We moved to the countryside when DS was 18 months and from then I felt increasingly discontent with everything but without really knowing why or what would fix it. Once DS started school I threw myself into finishing the work on the house and into other activities for me. More importantly, I decided to focus on my friends NOT the people who live where we now live, for whom I always felt I was having to bite my tongue or put on an act. I also looked back to things I loved as a child and took up riding again and doing short courses in things that interest me (wildly eclectic - craft, literature, history - online or local etc etc). I now feel I have a life in which I 'belong' and am so so much happier. Everything else is the same - location, house (except it is now finished and MINE), DH, DS, DH's hours etc but none of those things were actually 'wrong' - I just needed to be me again

DalstonDad Thu 25-Jul-13 15:23:58

Being content does not (IMO) mean that there is nothing else to gain. But you can be happy in the moment and appreciate all that you have without striving for something additional to fill up an empty feeling.

I'm sure that's true. But I have learnt that when I achieve things I'm aiming for I feel a tremendous sense of being underwhelmed. It's never quite as good as I thought it would be. That's what keeps me discontented and yearning for more (except for children. I have 2; lovely but plenty).

flyingwidow Thu 25-Jul-13 15:26:41

Since I've given up facebook I am more content. The "edited highlights" of other people's lives were getting me down. I now feeling better and am phoning people instead.

It sounds simple and perhaps silly, but it's made a big difference to me. At LAST I am not spending half an hour a day wasting my life reading 'acquaintances' lives!

I struggle to push guilt and negativity away- but am determined that this is the year that I am going to work on it!

Davsmum Thu 25-Jul-13 15:37:05

Ha ha - On facebook you either get people moaning about their friends or people having to tell everyone how fantastic their life is with lots of pictures!
I take everything on facebook with a pinch of salt!

SwishSwoshSwoosh Thu 25-Jul-13 15:38:16

I am more content more often but life still has struggles.

I think envy is very destructive, I think actively appreciating what blessings you have helps.

I never compare anymore as you have no clue what goes on behind closed doors, plenty of people are privately struggling with debt, infidelity, abuse, ill health, grief etc.

SilverOldie Thu 25-Jul-13 15:38:40

For me contentment is about acceptance.

I've accepted that I was never able to have children, don't have a partner, disabled with arthritis from the age of 32, will never be rich but don't envy what others have.

What I do have is a home of my own, enough food, good friends - I have known my best friend for 49 years through good and bad times and I can enjoy the small things in life.

Naebother Thu 25-Jul-13 16:12:28

Someone once told me that happiness is a choice.

They were right.

Focus on the small things.

Technotropic Thu 25-Jul-13 16:23:05

OP YANBU to ask if contentment exists.

However, yes it does and no, you can't just 'get it'. Unfortunately sad

Like with Kung Fu Panda, the secret is there isn't one.

I have to say I've been content/happy for most of my life. God only knows how though as I grew up in poverty with a violent mum and extremely dodgy friendship choices.

I've worked my way out of poverty to become reasonably 'well off', have a great family/friends and want for nothing. Sometimes I wonder if all the material stuff and achievement has made me this way but I was already happy before all that came to me.

Conclusion: I have no bloody idea why I have spent my life like this but am just grateful for how life has treated me.

shinytoe Thu 25-Jul-13 17:12:55

It's all about the standards we set ourselves, too, isn't it?

A lot of us will be perfectionists, strivers, constantly wanting to do better and improve things for our families.

Unfortunately this can manifest in anxiety/stress and not taking the time to relax, regroup and enjoy the moment without worrying you should be doing something more constructive.

ThatBintAgain Thu 25-Jul-13 17:13:17

I spent at least 15 years constantly wondering if I was missing out; no matter where I travelled to or what I did I always had a sense that there was somewhere/something else around the corner, and if I could just find it I'd be happy.

I still have the odd day where I suffer from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), usually triggered by some of my friends on Facebook who seem to live terribly glamorous lives on tropical islands and beaches in SE Asia, but then I think to myself that when I was actually there myself I still had FOMO so I guess that's just who I am. And I have to say since having children I've started to settle into my life and now I'm quite content watching sunsets, or waiting for courgettes to grow, that kind of thing. And after on and off years of being horribly depressed I'm quite happy with content.

I think what stands out on this thread is that FACEBOOK IS A BAD THING. wink

shinytoe Thu 25-Jul-13 17:16:26

I love the idea of FOMO. I constantly have it when I'm on "holiday" - I HAVE THE MAKE THE MOST OF EVERY SINGLE SECOND AND SEE EVERY SIGHT WORTH SEEING AND SPEND AS MUCH TIME AS POSSIBLE IN THE SUN to get my money/time's worth.

It's exhausting and no fun for DP.

I'm hoping the recent heatwave has made me content with the amount of sun I've had this year so I can actually have fun on holiday hmm

whitecloud Thu 25-Jul-13 17:32:25

Waterlego - so agree. Really feel for you as my parents died within a year of each other. You think you will never get through it or feel better, but you do. When something dreadful happens it does change your values. You realise that contentment lies within. You have the freedom eventually to look back and feel stronger because you did get through it and to realise that most worries don't matter as much as you thought they did. And I really can't abide people who moan about trivialities. That is the way to misery. I just have to avoid people like that now. You do get more thankful for what you have and less worried about competing with others. I am helped by being a totally uncompetitive person, so I am not bothered if I've got less than other people.

scottishmummy Thu 25-Jul-13 17:33:27

I don't think being happy is a choice,it's not that clear cut and implies unhappy=didn't try hard enough
if you're biochemically wired with predisposition for depression you can't always to think it away
Sometimes in life we need accompaniments like pals,hobbies,partners,family,medication to support happiness

Dilidali Thu 25-Jul-13 19:48:52

I came across [[http://m.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dyingthis ]]article some time ago, I think you might find it usefulsmile

Dilidali Thu 25-Jul-13 19:49:17
MrsGyllenhaal Thu 25-Jul-13 19:51:41

I don't think I'll ever be content. I'm not jealous of others or what they have but I am just not a particularly happy person. I'm not sure if I've ever truly felt secure and 'safe'. I've not had a particularly terrible life compared to some. I have a lovely husband, 2 gorgeous healthy sons, we own our own home, I am a stay at home mum. To the outside world we must look like the 'perfect family'. But inside me something is broken and I don't think it can ever be fixed.

I want to feel content. I want to feel happy. I want to feel confident. But something in me always seems to trying to prove that I'm good enough. Trying to prove that I can cope. Inside I cry a lot. Not over things I don't have, more about who I am not. I am not the person I want to be. I want to be patient, I want to be calm, I want to not worry over everything. I just can't do it. I am always looking for an escape route. Panicking incase everything falls down around me. I am just never able to relax.

I don't care what other people do or don't do. I don't care where they go on holiday or how nice their homes are. I just have this overwhelming feeling of being crap all the time. I feel like I fail my children. They deserve so much more. I sometimes wish I could just be me but a happier me. Just don't know how to get there!

Albiebee Thu 25-Jul-13 19:56:51

I agree with Naebother.

Happiness is definitely a choice, you only have to look at those with terrible misfortune in their lives who still keep a smile on their face to know this.
I used to be discontent mainly because I didn't know what I wanted, I thought I should want the things and lifestyles other people seem to want. Once I worked out that my priorities were different, that money & it's accoutrements and a soulless nine-to-five wasn't for me, I was much more relaxed.
I did an art postgraduate degree and changed my job, I'm poorer but infinitely happier.

Also, DON'T BUY GLOSSY MAGAZINES! They are catalogues for lifestyles none of us can afford, and fool you into thinking if only you bought that statement handbag, and painted the living room that particular shade of grey you'll be happy, rich and sexually fulfilled. DELUSIONAL! grin

scottishmummy Thu 25-Jul-13 20:15:50

It's quite simply not easy as i think yourself happy.one can't think pnd away
The sentiment is simplistic with grain of commonsense,but not achievable by all
One can desperately want to think self happy but ask need external support to achieve it

I think it's a no-brainer really that things don't buy happiness.
By the time we're, say, 25, most of us should have seen through that one surely ? (Though of course heavily pushed at us as a raison d'etre in a consumer society)

But that still leaves a lot of other aspects .... the stuff that life hits us with, our early upbringing and the baggage or blessings we bring from that, the way our brain is wired and our resulting personality, the quality of our relationships and support network.

So agree with PP in that only some of us may be truly able to choose happiness and contentment in our lives - but also agree there is an aspect of choice for us all. Being mindful of the joy or contentment in present moments, remembering to be thankful for simple things, thinking of others and building connections, and knowing what makes us happy and seeking more of those things, are all useful ideas I think.

scottishmummy Thu 25-Jul-13 20:29:10

Possessions don't buy happiness but solvency can lessen impact of finance worries
I think contentment is a range of things,ability to like own company,good pals
Finding that niche that makes one content,for me that include career,family,pals

claig Thu 25-Jul-13 20:46:28

I think the secret to contentment is helping other people.
Being selfless brings contentment. It is like a sort of karma - give and you will receive.

Back2Two Thu 25-Jul-13 20:54:46

Yes, scottishmummy I agree with a lot of what you've said.
I've been depressed before and being told to "think" a different "happy" way ain't going to cut it. That is NOT a choice a person makes.

And, having financial security has to be a factor ...like I said, I'm in that privileged position where I could totally flash some cash around but it's just not my style. But I don't need to worry about money.

I've spent years of my life discontent in my heart. Medication helped to make me a content woman too...it's not just roses and positive thinking.

babysbreath Thu 25-Jul-13 20:56:32

Read the title as "To wonder what the bloody secret to cement is" grin

But to answer the question, I am not content. I am not going anywhere in life, it is always an uphill struggle. I feel that I am just treading water and nothing gets better.

scottishmummy Thu 25-Jul-13 20:56:34

I don't think contentment is same as selfless.many may be content,many aren't selfless
I don't entirely think selflessness is achievable for most of us,not with competing demands career,capitalism
I'm content but I'm not selfless,but im not wholly selfish.like most folk I'm getting by

HugAMoo Thu 25-Jul-13 20:58:11

I think I'm pretty content and, to be honest, I think it only came to be with age and experience. Knowing who I am and what I want from life and not really caring what others think of me. I'm comfortable enough to be me and if someone doesn't like it, they know where the door is smile. I love my life now and am truly content because of that.

SlangWhangering Thu 25-Jul-13 21:06:34

Claig
I think it is interesting that you say that. I also think that helping other people is a very important part of any quest for contentment but I can't imagine it being the sole component. I think you need to look after yourself and your own family as well. I think you need to be a bit selfish too. IYSWIM

I imagine it would be very difficult to be an extremely giving person. I think you wouldbe always worrying you hadn't done enough or you would be constantly frustrated with the cruelties and inequalities of life.

I have always done some charity work (very quietly smile ) maybe a morning or a day a week depending on what else is going on in my life and then the rest of the time I don't think about it very much blush. I am also quite happy to say no to requests for help.
I have a nice lifestyle and I don't think I could justify having the privileges I have if I were a truly 100% committed selfless person.

claig Thu 25-Jul-13 21:13:41

scottishmummy, I agreethat selflessness is not really possible for most of us. Maybe only monks, Buddhist priests and Zen masters can find that sort of thing.

But I think that "how to find contentment" is a spiritual question deep down and involves finding a purpose to life and being content with what you have in life, and I think that the happiest people who are most content are probably the most spiritual who ask for little and give the most - those who help others.

It's not for most of us, it's not really practical because it is not worldly, but the Buddhist concept of nirvana is possibly true contentment, but it is other-worldly and not for most of us mortals.

scottishmummy Thu 25-Jul-13 21:17:23

I think in nigh impossible to be selfless.does one forgoe school of preference for someone else?
Selfless is giving preference to another person over own need/preference
I competed with many for same job,no way I was selflessly standing aside to enable another

claig Thu 25-Jul-13 21:19:56

Slang, I think you are right, that there has to be a balance, in order to survive in this physical realm.

scottishmummy Thu 25-Jul-13 21:20:05

If one is spiritual,that can enhance contentment.but one doesn't need spirituality to be content

claig Thu 25-Jul-13 21:24:54

No you don't need spirituality, you don't have to try, I think if you are content, then you are in balance with nature and life without even knowing it and that whatever you are doing is probably spiritual without you even realising it.

But you are right about competing, we all have to compete in order to get ahead and do well and survive. There is no easy answer to finding contentment.

fempsych Thu 25-Jul-13 21:27:48

For me, I moved towards fulfilment in my life when I gave up on the 'concept' of happiness and looked at mindfulness and seeking meaning and fulfilment in life. I read 'the happiness trap' and have recommended it to many friends and at work (mental health professional).

scottishmummy Thu 25-Jul-13 21:28:10

Contentment is elusive because it personal,it may not be achievable for all
I don't think one can think oneself. Content,that's self help woo territory
Certainly contentment is onethingmeasured most of us seek,at sometime

Like your post Hug about contentment coming increasingly with age and wisdom. I hope I may become more content with increasing years - I think I could be quite good at being old smile
- but then it probably depends what health niggles and troubles I have to contend with too.

Queenie72 Thu 25-Jul-13 21:33:54

Having my 2 boys has brought contentment for me. Before them I was always searching for something. Now I am truly content just being with them and watching their little relationship grow. I am truly grateful and every day I take a moment to thank my lucky stars that I have 2 amazing little sons. Doesn't mean life is perfect they are hard work but have brought me happiness

LifeIsBetterInFlipFlops Thu 25-Jul-13 21:39:17

I'm so content and also incredibly thankful and grateful for my lot in life.

I've had some pretty grim times but also some amazing opportunities, both of which give me a lot of perspective.

I'm very busy and have a lot of variety in my life in terms of family life, work - paid and voluntary, and hobbies and interests.

I enjoy glossy mags and love FB - but am discerning about who I add, so I actually care about friend's updates.

scottishmummy Thu 25-Jul-13 21:41:44

I love glossy mags,glamour,in style etc they really are enjoyable,light and easy

LifeIsBetterInFlipFlops Thu 25-Jul-13 21:44:15

I agree Scottish, they don't make me feel in the slightest bit envious or unsettled, I just enjoy them for what they are and don't give them much thought.

scottishmummy Thu 25-Jul-13 21:45:37

Oh and stylist on a wed,first few pages the must have chi chi items and articles

LifeIsBetterInFlipFlops Thu 25-Jul-13 21:46:57

I don't know the mag, but can't beat a bit of chi chi.

BsshBossh Thu 25-Jul-13 21:50:08

I found contentment after having battled cancer for three years. That experience certainly put life in perspective and I've been a glass half full girl ever since.

But contentment for me doesn't mean being happy with my lot and settling there: I am incredibly ambitious still and am working on fulfilling several big dreams. However, I no longer sweat the small stuff.

Naebother Thu 25-Jul-13 22:04:06

I disagree scottishmummy

Of course you don't get a choice if you are suffering with depression or mental illness that is different.

If you have no mental health issues though and want to feel contentment you have to choose to be happy with what you have and more importantly choose to do something about what is stopping you from being happy.

Scarletohello Thu 25-Jul-13 22:08:02

Ironically, reading this thread is making me feel sad and discontented with my life! Don't have a partner or kids and am currently a carer for my dad who has dementia and virtually blind. Every day is the same and I feel lonely, unfulfilled and trapped. Need to find some positive things to focus on...sad

pointythings Thu 25-Jul-13 22:09:08

I think it's about the expectations that you have. I used to set benchmarks for myself - if I wasn't earning £X by age 35, if we didn't have x, y and z by the time I was 40 - all that useless stuff. Then I got a job in the NHS that I really loved, teaching people IT, and it felt like a vocation. I've never looked back since, I've found my niche even if it isn't a gold plated niche.

My DH has adjusted too - he grew up thinking he had to provide for his wife and DCs, but we have ended up earning 50/50 and we both feel that is actually a much safer feeling.

It helps that we both grew up living very frugally - as in, not throwing things away when they still work even if you can afford to upgrade, bling being unimportant, not buying new cars because they lose so much value in the first couple of years. Our car is 12 years old, out tv is and old-fashioned fat screen and we don't care. Our best days are the ones when we do nothing together as a family - as in, water fights in the garden, a BBQ, sitting outside with a cold drink and a good book. Contentment is definitely a mindset.

scottishmummy Thu 25-Jul-13 22:09:39

Utter rot,no one thinks themselves content
There lies path to self help books,woo
And empty purse

TheBreastmilksOnMe Thu 25-Jul-13 22:15:05

MrsGyllenhaal: it sounds to me like you need another identity. You're a mother to your children and a wife wife to your husband but what are you for you? Being a SAHM is bloody hard, very unfullfilling and repetitive imho (being there, done that) what helped my happiness, self esteem and sense of contentment was retraining in another job. I am now self employed and work out of the home and I'm loving it (never thought I would enjoy being apart from my kids so much but I do)

Branch out and try something different you might find it makes a big difference to your discontentment and genera feelings of failure.

claig Thu 25-Jul-13 22:15:56

'Contentment is definitely a mindset.'

Agree with pointythings.

I think that there is negative thinking and that it can trap people into seeing the glass half empty. That is why I think that you can think yourself content by seeing things with a different perspective, and that is why I think that some of the woo and self-help books are onto something because they can change your way of thinking,

I haven't read the whole thread, but endorse those who mention a spiritual dimension being necessary for contentment. For me it came from an inspired translation of Ephesians 2, The Bible, from which I understood that I am God's masterpiece. Suddenly I realised that I was good enough for God. If I was good enough for him, that was good enough for me.

That sounds tough Scarlet - hope you can find some little things to enjoy over the summer thanks
Maybe meeting others in something like a carers support group, or other group such as an evening class or hobby group could be helpful ?

scottishmummy Thu 25-Jul-13 22:36:06

Scarlett,sorry to see you've got so much on your plate
Have you had carer assessment, has dad been assessed for any care package
Who's supporting you?

SlangWhangering Thu 25-Jul-13 22:38:48

Blimey Scarlett you sound like you have a lot to deal with. thanks. I hope things improve.

duchesse Thu 25-Jul-13 23:17:57

I'm not sure it's in the human mentality to feel utterly content all the time. Discontentment drives us to improve our lives. It's what makes us different from goats or pangolins or cows.

I have to say moo that I feel pretty contented, nay happy, most of the time. I had a pretty tough childhood -adulthood is a breeze in comparison. The only thing I would have differently at the moment is be able to go on holiday more than once every 3 years. But we have made choices that mean that we have no spare money for them and that's fine as well- it is free choice.

duchesse Thu 25-Jul-13 23:19:36

Scarlet- life has a habit of throwing googlies at you- things can change so quickly. It may not feel like it at the moment, but they really can. Do you have enough help with your dad? You sound as though you're doing a fantastic job but it must be super-hard on you.

JasmineAshley Thu 25-Jul-13 23:23:59

No sad I am not at all content with my lot in any area of life sad

I am content, but it only came with the acceptance that those 'magazine lifestyles' weren't real, and having my DD. It doesn't actually take much to make me happy either, nice sunset, bird visiting the garden, that helps too.

childof79 Thu 25-Jul-13 23:43:46

I love that cheapskateum. I was so discontent before I became a Christian. Soon after I converted I went to a women's conference and it was all about how we see ourselves in the eyes of the world.

The simple message was that as women we define ourselves as being successful if we tick all the boxes that society has told us are appealing. Eg, good looks, career, relationships - it is all around us and unavoidable. All this stuff is rubbish and transient and we need to be deeper than this and realise that we are flawed but there is something better and this is that Jesus died for our sins and we should be content with this.

For me it was an eye opening message and one I needed to hear.

Even taking out the spiritual message I realised I did define myself by what society perceived as successful and through realising my flaws I actually felt liberated. Since that day I have found something deeper to put my self-esteem in rather than how other people see me. I think this is the central issue for most people who suffer from low esteem. One needs something deeper than materialism to build solid self esteem. I can only say before that day I didn't have anything bigger and as a result I was never content with my lot.

I also question how secular therapists can help build people's self-esteem and therefore contentment, when for most people they don't have anything bigger in their lives than the material world around them, which is shoved down their throat every day of their lives.

lisad123everybodydancenow Thu 25-Jul-13 23:55:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Wonderstuff Fri 26-Jul-13 00:04:38

I think that I am more content since having my children, before I was lacking something I think. I wasn't enjoying my job, I felt quite lonely. I have found being a mother hard, and have really wondered if it was the right path, felt for a long time I'd made a mistake. But I think that my children force me to live in the moment, which has been key, I have a better understanding of the brevity of time we have.

I am also lucky to have a loving husband, live in a nice area, have good relationship with my parents, I'm a laid back person. I've slowed down since having children, and I mostly enjoy the pace of my life. I do get the fear sometimes, but I think it is wise to accept bad stuff can happen and that is more reason to enjoy life while it is good. I have no financial security, and before children did rack up a ton of debt, living within my means now is good, cooking from scratch, making do, I'm happy to do that. I also feel seeing people in awful situations, knowing that I am very well off really, that is part of it.

Whilst being more content with me, I am also angrier with the world. I feel a greater urge to make the world better.. I wonder if that is to do with having children? Don't know.

Wonderstuff Fri 26-Jul-13 00:06:59

I don't have faith. When I was younger that bothered me, but I am happily an atheist, humanist. Definitely being older has made me happier. Which makes me wonder why we are all supposed to be searching for eternal youth.

shufflehopstep Fri 26-Jul-13 00:28:30

I find if you accept the fact that, by and large, you are where you are in life because of the choices you make, and the choices you make are influenced sub-consciously by what you want out of life, it's easier.

Obviously I appreciate life is unpredictable, you can lose your job, fall ill, suffer bereavement, but those are things that happen to everyone over their lifetime. The job you're in, the relationship you're in or not, where you live, how many children you have, etc. - these are all things you will have chosen, maybe not even consciously. The small decisions you make every day, move you along a certain path.

If you accept this, it's easier to be content.

toomanyfionas Fri 26-Jul-13 00:43:15

I think loving and feeling loved are big. If you didn't feel loved as a child it is difficult to know how to recognise it as an adult.

Wonderstuff Fri 26-Jul-13 01:09:56

I do get where you are coming from saying people don't think themselves content scottishmummy I have had depression, and no amount of positive spin as going to shift that. The contraceptive pill made me depressed, very straightforward chemical cause and effect. But mental illness aside I do believe I actively affect my feelings, and I do feel that, over years I have become less anxious ad more content. To suggest we can all become happy if we set our minds to it is dangerous and victim blames, but to say you can't actively improve you outlook is disempowering no? I used to spend energy worrying about my dad, but I decided to stop, that he could take responsibility for himself, now I don't worry and I don't nag him and I feel better. Tomorrow I'm going to feel shit because I can't sleep tonight, but I will force myself to go for a run and on Saturday I'll be OK I imagine. Before I would have got stressed, now I look at what I can do to make it better.

alreadytaken Fri 26-Jul-13 07:31:09

To quote Voltaire "dont let the perfect be the enemy of the good". And before anyone suggests that leads to mediocrity it was Watson-Watt, propounded a "cult of the imperfect", which he stated as "Give them the third best to go on with; the second best comes too late, the best never comes." He also developed the early warning radar in Britain to counter the rapid growth of the Luftwaffe, without it we might not be here.

As for depression - you can't think yourself out of it but some techniques may be able to minimise the risk of recurrence. They can be taught. One of them is mindfulness, which teaches you to focus on the good moments and not let your mind drift away from them.

Hi lisad - do you know where to find the scripture to be thankful for covering and food and the rest will follow ? - that sounds like my kind of peaceful inspiration smile

On the "daily gratitudes" thread many posters (of different faiths) often include thanks for food and water, shelter and safety .... or variations of these simple things.
However bad my day is (to my first world thinking) at least my daughter and I don't have to walk several miles to fetch some not very clean water for our family needs.

I like to support WaterAid too when I'm able to flowers

I think that quote about not letting perfection be the enemy of the good is great too already, or more prosaically ...

"If a things worth doing it's worth doing badly" - family life springs to mind, especially during the summer holidays !

thegreylady Fri 26-Jul-13 10:05:18

I am content now but I have done such a lot in my lifetime. I have had bereavements- a husband, my parents and I have had serious illness noo (breast cancer). I have known betrayal and divorce and rejection. But I have known such joy too. I have been very happily married for nearly 25 years. I have 2 wonderful children and 2 stepsons who I love as if they were my blood. I have amazing grandchildren. I have enough money to live comfortably and we own our little house.
I don't think contentment is for the young, they need to be reaching and striving to fulfil their potential, but if you are lucky you will reach late middle age or older and look back with a sense of achievement and be content with a job well done.

anglerfish Fri 26-Jul-13 10:06:30

I've achieved contentment over the last couple of years (am 37). I used to have dreadful status anxiety and FOMO - I don't think getting over it was as simple as choosing to be content, but interaction of a number of things. Mellowing with age, working out what my personal goals were and achieving a fair few of them (esp 3 lovely children, a phd and a job I value as important and interesting), dealing with a difficult childhood with counselling, accepting that I'm not doomed to turn into my anxious and bitter mother, having come through some really difficult times and emerged - not unscathed, but Ok- on the other side... I think as a previous poster said, contentment is linked to self-esteem.

Still there are things I'd change if I could- tidier house, more spare cash for holidays etc- but I dont sweat this stuff any more because I know it's not high up my list of priorities at the moment. I've made different choices, and I'm happy with the choices I've made. Having said that, contentment has definitely not killed my ambition- have lots of ideas for family, job, learning in the future- but pursuing them without the feeling of desperation that I must achieve them in order to be a valid person, is much more enjoyable smile

blue2 Fri 26-Jul-13 11:53:51

I used to write for a few interiors magazines, and go to photo shoots - the amount of jiggery-pokery that went on for the shots gave me an insight into just how warped the magazine industry is... and its only interiors!!

Mrs Gyllenhaal - we share a similar domestic situation, and I have improved my outlook by getting out and volunteering. It gets your feeling of self-worth back. Neither DH or DS ever praise me in what I achieve, but when I come home from spending a couple of hours in the village shop having restocked shelves, served people and generally caught up on the village gossip, I feel much better.

I used to volunteer for Homestart and did that for 4 years, but now I am applying for another volunteering job with the NSPCC and Childline as a voluntary school visitor.

Our status as women seem to be very much caught up with our jobs. I feel hugely embarassed to admit that I don't have a job; I have a degree, but don't currently use it.

Its that bit that makes me feel "not whole".

cory Fri 26-Jul-13 12:30:47

Interesting discussion on this thread re depression and the measure of control we have.

I've had to think about this a lot as teen dd has both a chronic pain disorder and a strong (probably genetic) disposition to anxiety and depression. She has had long discussions with CAHMS about it and the advice she has been given basically boils down to:

a) There are some aspects of this that you cannot control, you will probably always have the same reactions and the same feelings in certain situations and the same tendency to veer between highs and lows. That much is part of what you are; it's how your body reacts.

b) The part you can control is what you do with those feelings and reactions. You can try to access help, you can use the techniques you have learnt to control your thoughts from spiralling into complete negativity, you can make sure you lead a healthy life and avoid triggers, you can even make an informed decision about medication. It won't cancel out a) but it will enable you to cope with a).

Dd seems to have taken this on board and sees the point of persevering with b) even though it was rough that she was handed a).

debiliem58 Fri 26-Jul-13 12:32:23

I believe for in order for us to feel content is to totally restructure the society we now live in – it’s not going to happen though. A woman nowadays has way too many jobs and responsibilities, not enough time and not enough money - the reality is that each job a woman does - is, in itself a full time job !
Women are having to cope with doing at least 6 full time jobs. Looking after children – a Nanny or au pair. Cooking and shopping - a chef or a cook. Housework – a cleaner. Washing and ironing – a laundry operator. Driving – a chauffeur. Household bills and budget – a bookkeeper. I think you get the picture even though I’m stating the obvious – in a nutshell everybody is overworked and with so little time.
Gone are the days when an average family could live off one wage, the cost of living is too expensive and the wages are too low. We had no choice in the end to take on outside jobs not for luxuries but help toward paying bills.
We work in places that are understaffed our work loads are increased - the ceiling gets higher and higher and each time we meet the demands at a cost to our wellbeing, instead of saying sorry can’t do it and that stops the ceiling getting raised. We get half an hour for lunch – go to the clocking off machine, up to the canteen, join the queue, get the food, go to the eating area, eat, back to your work station – stressed.
Do we really have a work life balance – no, are we tired – yes. All in all this leads to discontentment. Family relationship and friendship are no longer the same. There a lot more lonely people and people aren’t as nice as they use to be. Examples of relationships are set for some people by watching the soaps – putting people down and striving for one upmanship, publicly embarrassing people by cruel one liners.
Everything starts at the same time of day 9.00 am everybody converges on the roads at the same time which equals to traffic jams or hold ups – how would things change if school open for 8.00am, office / factory workers 9.00am, supermarket and retail 10.00am, banks 11.00 pm and they stay open later – so that we can do banking after work? Not joining long queues in understaffed banks for bankers to profit even more and us getting stressed out by missing lunch and the fear of being late back at the office.
How about extended families – Mum and Dad retired at 50 they could afford too if they were given a decent salary and save for a pension. Then help with the child care, we carry on working and save on child care costs we could then employ a cleaner with the saving – freeing up some time and help other people earn a bit of cash. Then we in turn we retire at 50 and take care of our children children. Hence the work load being more evenly distributed. Neighbours taking turns baby-sitting.
More people could set up reasonably priced laundries at every local shopping centre, have a laundrettes with attendants who willingly help with the laundry for payment.
We haven’t got time to cook we rely on commercially produced foods that have been “jizzied” with colourants, preservatives and the rest, leaving our bodies and brains nutrient deprived leading to mental health problems like depression. More people could set up local kitchen businesses and deliver reasonably priced home cook meals around 4.00pm every day.
End kids pocket money get them to work for their money to save for their luxuries. They could earn extra cash cleaning cars and doing gardens, doing little shopping errands. Take dogs for walks.
Bring back community centres. Neighbour could volunteer their time and share their skills – like music, photography and cooking. Purchase a home theatre have film nights for the neighbourhood.
We could all feel more content if we all had less work, more of a work life balance, loving and supportive relationships, co-operation, more money - just enough to pay for those little extra treats and a holiday in the sun during the depths of winter - January or February to top up our Vitamin D levels. Beginning at the clock change in October the family could gather round making creative items to sell on E-bay and the like to pay for this winter holiday.
I could go on but the bottom line is – in order for the majority of us to feel content life needs to be totally restructured.

daisychain01 Fri 26-Jul-13 14:12:34

Tailtwister apologies if I am x-posting as its a long, interesting thread. The reasonably suscinct answer is there is no single answer.

The longer answer.... getting older and wiser has helped me understand a few 'tru-isms' that seem to be universally true i.e. can be generalised by and large - agreed, of course there are unique differences:

1. Contentment is a transitory, temporary and constantly shifting state. As humans, we evolve and change throughout our life, likewise contentment is not totally static. People can have periods of feeling settled, content - environmental factors (event, circumstances) can cause a disruption in that period of contentment. Unique differences may be bound by medical circumstances, for example, someone having depression, or being in difficult life circumstances, which make it more difficult for them to enjoy periods of contentment. The loss of a loved one is something everyone faces (bar none!). Those things punctuate all our lives. Also, our expectations may change, things we used to be content with, may change. It is important to see the big picture, not just the snapshots.

2. Contentment is often a perception. For example, you gave a good example of how you meet people who appear to be happy with their lot, they always seem content. Remember point (1) above, about the transitory nature of contentment and that we see people as a snapshot in time. They may seem content, they may be content, but they will undoubtedly have challenges. Perhaps the fact is, some people can cope with challenges in a way to rise above the crap that gets thrown at them - and without fail, each and every person on this earth will have crap thrown at them, at one time or another. No-one is immune from tragedy, unhappiness, bad things going wrong.

3. Life has taught me to live in the "here and now", enjoy the moment. Whilst it is easier said than done, appreciating what we have, valuing the people in our lives, while they are in our lives, is an absolutely key contributory factor to being content. Two of the expressions I live by is "be careful what you wish for" and "you don't know what you've got til it's gone".

Sometimes the 'things', the stuff we chase after in life, don't always bring contentment the way we expect them to. "Stuff" can cloud our vision, prevent us focussing on things of beautiful in life - and they can conversely make us less content, how ironic is that!

The most personal example I can give is losing my DH - he was my everything and with his loss, I learned that pretty much everything in life is temporary, save the people we love, the memories we cherish and everything else is just stuff. That is only a personal view, because I recognise it does not take away from the fact we all have daily struggles in life, to make ends meet, to do right by their children, those things don't go away. But, all I mean is, perhaps there can be a temptation with so many distractions and "must-haves" of today's world it can mean we lose sight of the small things that can bring us contentment. Stop and smell the roses.

To end with, TailTwister remember you are personally special and unique - build on that, and the contribution you can make just simply by being you, that is one way to be content. xx

hutchblue Fri 26-Jul-13 14:33:06

Try listening to a few Abraham Hicks videos on Youtube. You can find them through googling it.

I try to ignore Abraham Hick's 'spiritual' element in it all as she has some ideas I don't agree with/buy into.

But she has some very effective ways to change the way you view your life and it's really worth looking at those and listening to what she suggests.

It's changed my life, I'm much more positive now and don't envy people nearly as much as I used to. I also catch myself early on when I start the comparison thing.

Try also Googling lists of appreciation, it gives you some AHs exercises to start straight away.

It's all about focus. If you focus on the things in your life you do have, you can kind of tune out of the things you don't have and stop fretting all the time about what you don't have.

If you keep banging the drum of what you don't have, your mind is never free to enjoy what you do have. And we do have so much but we just keep thinking about what we don't have.

Another interesting read is Steve Pavlina. I also don't buy into some of his weird and wonderful practices but he has some great advice about living fearlessly, living in the moment.

MrsDeVere Fri 26-Jul-13 14:40:39

I wish I could be content.
I am too scared all the time to relax.
I always expect something dreadful is going to happen if I let go for even a second.
Although I know this is ridiculous because if I had the power to control the universe I would have prevented other bad things happening.

But still I cling on, not daring to breath lest it all comes tumbling down around my ears again.

Its fucking exhausting.

Badvoc Fri 26-Jul-13 14:57:02

Yes.
It is exhausting.
I wish I knew the answer mrsdv sad

Tailtwister Fri 26-Jul-13 15:09:14

Wow, this thread has moved on, thanks so much to everyone for posting. I'm going to use the current lull (children munching gingerbread men!) to have a read through. I've had a quick scan and I'm amazed at the time people have taken to reply in such detail.

Oh dear, it seems the remaining biscuit is being fought over. I'll be back...

MrsDeVere Fri 26-Jul-13 15:10:35

I am waiting for EMDR (?) but I haven't heard back about it.
I am hoping that will help.

I really, really , really want things to change.

I haven't read the whole thread so I have probably missed some advice/information.

I would love to learn to mediate. Not sure how to go about it and cannot afford expensive classes.

Have you tried anything like that badvoc? I know you have had a worrying time of it.

I found hypnobirthing (via CD) helpful when I was pg so I know this stuff works. Its just finding the right sort of thing.

lisad123everybodydancenow Fri 26-Jul-13 15:22:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hutchblue Fri 26-Jul-13 15:22:46

Transcendental Meditation is the best (for me). I've been doing it since I was 16. It is expensive but it gives you something other forms (only in my humble experience) can't.

When I am really stressed and can't sleep I sit up at night and do it. I get weird tingly pains in my cheeks. I was told by the people who taught me it's the release of stress.

yes it's weird. I'd never have thought it possible.

Anyway, I don't understand it but it works (for me).

Then I go straight to sleep. I am the world's worst sleeper. So if it works for me I'm sure it would work for others...

It's worth the investment. What I would say is in life you often think your options are a, b and c.

When you meditate you finally come across many more letters of the alphabet.

Anyway, hope this might help someone.

Badvoc Fri 26-Jul-13 15:22:48

I haven't, no.
I have used a book called "thrive" tom try and cure my emetophobia and it did help a lot.
I can't afford anything expensive like therapy etc.
Meditation sounds interesting...

lisad123everybodydancenow Fri 26-Jul-13 15:24:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MrsDeVere Fri 26-Jul-13 15:25:10

I am sure there is stuff on youtube.
But I haven't looked it up.
Weird isn't it?
Something is stopping me.

I guess you have to be ready.

PollyIndia Fri 26-Jul-13 15:28:14

I would say I am pretty content. I am a single mum to a 9 month old and it was totally unplanned but unexpectedly, it's made me happier than I have ever been. I am living in the present for the first time ever I think and I think that is key. For today, everything is great. Sure I get lonely sometimes and I worry about money and work in the future and how I will manage being 2 parents for him but I try not to think about stuff too much. I own my own home and right now can pay the mortgage working 3 days a week, plus I work from home so I have a decent quality of life. Plus working means I can exercise as I have childcare so that is great for the psyche.
Someone also said you need to have a challenge and something to look forward to to be happy and I would agree with that but for me it is more living in the present and appreciating what you have I think. I feel lucky to have my baby.

Badvoc Fri 26-Jul-13 16:00:10

Yes.
So much going on, not in a good place ATM.
I wonder if I will ever be ready...

MrsDeVere Fri 26-Jul-13 16:05:08

You will.
Hang on.

Badvoc Fri 26-Jul-13 16:08:49

Gah.
Nothing compared to what you have been through mrsdv.
Need to get a flicking grip tbh.
Am on HRT now so that may help.
Is it normal to almost burst into tears when your ds tries on his first school shoes? smile
Sorry for thread hijack op!

ZingWidge Fri 26-Jul-13 17:40:38

here to learn

I think I might cry when DS gets kitted up for secondary this summer Badvoc, never mind first school shoes smile
Great thread all x

Goooooooooooooooooooooood Fri 26-Jul-13 23:38:47

*juggling]
I used to cry when I took my four kids to get their school shoes confused but not in a good way. confused

I had to buy indoor smart shoes, outdoor smart shoes, indoor trainers and outdoor trainers for FOUR kids....all at once. shock
We lived overseas but I used to buy all their shoes at Clarks as they all have extremely wide feet and I couldn't find shoes to fit them in the country where we lived. The shop assistant probably wanted to cry too grin. I did get a special 20% bulk purchase discount though.

jollydiane Fri 26-Jul-13 23:49:07

Goodness there are some detailed answers on this thread.

If more people cuddled a teddy at night the world would be a happier, safer place.

Badvoc Sat 27-Jul-13 08:17:13

Ha! smile
Poor dh...he went very pale when the cashier told him how much it all came to...2 pairs of school shoes, 2 pairs of trainers, 1 pair of plimsoles and a pair of football boots....you can imagine!

grin Yes, there is that as well ! shock

alreadytaken Sat 27-Jul-13 09:17:28
blue2 Sat 27-Jul-13 19:09:07

Already - My son and I are reading this book^^ its been recommended to him for his stress levels, and I reckon it can do me no harm at all!

KinkyDorito Sat 27-Jul-13 20:20:29

www.youtube.com/watch?v=WY08aXxor20

The above is a lecture delivered by Prof Mark Williams who wrote the book on mindfulness linked to above. He was speaking at the School of Life.

waterlego Sat 27-Jul-13 22:12:32

Thank you whitecloud. flowers

It's a strange road, for sure, and just when I think I'm all out of strength, I find another little pocketful of it somewhere. smile

ThreeTomatoes Sat 27-Jul-13 22:25:46

This is an interesting article, about the history of happiness, and how our perception of what happiness is and how to come by it has changed over the years.

And on the same site: 10 things science says will make you happy which I think rings true.

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