A few evenings ago, during one of my Pep-Talks, a lady asked me how she will know when she’s happy and though I’m usually a chatterbox with all the answers, this question gave me pause for thought, for I have long considered happiness a slippery customer, but her next-door neighbour contentment, a welcome, transparent friend.
And so with her permission, I am sharing my answer with you. For it had to be that though we may experience moments of pure bliss, the fleeting tickle of real joy and a heap of oh so very transient happiness we cannot trap for always, it is only when contentment settles on our shoulders, like the warmest, cosiest of blankets, that we begin to experience a real shift in who we are and how much of our authentic selves we are willing to reveal.
For happiness is not the point. Happiness is but a cherry on life’s cake. An emotion that insists we cling on to it for dear life for its loss leaves the kind of abyss we have no choice but to keep on trying to fill. Contentment on the other hand, enables growth. It gives us the space to work on who we are becoming instead of searching for highs among too many lows.
This then is the gift I want to give all the women I work with: the recognition that they are enough, that they have enough, that they will always be enough. You see enough does not imply a static life. While Happy says grip tight, I am already slipping away: Enough says, right here and right now you have enough, nay you are enough, to stay on the path towards a life less ordinary, despite of, because of, even grateful for the curve-balls life will insist on chucking you.
For it will. Make no mistake. It will.
Happiness is something we can have, however momentary it may turn out to be, but contentment is something we are. Ours to choose and nurture for always.
So I said all this to my lovely Pep-Talker and she said, yes, but how will I know when I’m content and my answer was “when you feel calm”. Not when you are giddy. Or riding the crest of your own domestic wave, but when peace is a given in each and every area of your life. Not when everything is perfect, but when your needs and those of whom you love are being met without strife. When celebration and beautiful ritual are possible because you aren’t doing battle with yourself on a daily basis but exist within contentment.
And she said, “I’m rubbish at all of this, I need a content-o-meter!” and no sooner had she expressed a need for a simple system to assess where she was at, than I had created one for her, and with her permission, for you too.
So here me darlings, is your challenge. Click here to download this simple one-page tool and considering each of the eight aspects of a life less ordinary, decide how content you currently feel on a scale of one to ten. As you work through it, the areas you need to focus on will become apparent and for the next four weeks, you dedicate yourself to taking baby-steps towards peace in those areas. Calm. Contentment. Even acceptance if that is what is called for. When the month is up you download another copy, re-fill it and then measure the difference between last month’s score and this month’s score. Your challenge being, to try to make a change of at least 10% difference on the road to calm. And so it goes on.
While it may be that you never reach a ten in all areas of your life, (and that’s OK), just knowing that there are areas of your life that make your head feel fuddled and deciding here and now to keep moving towards progress in those areas will over the course of 2018 give you all the clarity you need to make real, lasting change.
So can you do it? Can you improve your life by at least 10% over the next four weeks? Are you willing to stop chasing happy, and start embracing calm?
I know I am. And I know my lovely client is too. So it’s over to you now. You got this.x