Think back to last year. What was happening in your life? What things consumed your mind? Did you worry a lot?
Now, fast forward to the present.
Of all the things you spent time and energy worrying about, how many of them actually happened? So often, we spend time worrying about the future and what may happen. Honestly, no one can predict or control the future, and much of what we worry about never actually happens. Yet we spend precious time wondering about the “what ifs” of life.
When we place so much emphasis on the future, we often forget how to be content in the present or allow ourselves to see each day as a gift. People who focus on contentment have discovered how to:
- Live in the present. Instead of wishing for what was or what could be, actually learn to enjoy where you are at the moment. If you are stuck on the dreams, you can’t embrace what you have today.
- Be grateful. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, be thankful for what you do have. The vast majority of people in America are richer than 75 percent of the world.
- Take responsibility. Content people don’t have a problem being responsible for their own actions.
- Do everything to the very best of their ability. On your job, with your family and in the community, have pride in what you are doing and give it your very best.
- Stop comparing themselves to others. People who are content in life don’t waste time trying to keep up with everyone else. They are satisfied with what they have.
- Connect. People who are content value connectedness with family and friends.
- Live out their faith. A broad survey of American adults (15,738 Americans between the ages of 18 and 60) conducted by the Austin Institute found that people who attend weekly religious services are nearly twice as likely to describe themselves as “very happy” (45 percent) than people who never attend (28 percent). The 2004 General Social Survey showed similar findings. Forty-three percent of religious people said they were very happy with their lives, compared with 23 percent of the non-religious. This connection between faith and happiness holds – regardless of one’s particular faith expression.
Socrates once said, “He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.”
Since we usually grow personally through our good and bad experiences, try reflecting on the circumstances of the past year. Although the time we spent fretting over uncontrollable things is gone, a new year is dawning.
Remember the words of Abraham Lincoln: “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Don’t fret over what could happen. Live each moment to the fullest and make this your best year yet.