Saying "Enough" in a World of "Stuff": 6 Ways to Gain Contentment

Happy Eliyahu :)

On the weekend, I branch out from cooking-related posts and write about my family, answer reader questions, or just blog about what's on my mind! If you have a question or topic you'd like me to tackle, send it my way! :)

From my inbox:

I often feel like my circumstances are not ideal and it gets me down. I know your living situation is not what your dream living situation would be (this is something I struggle with). And maybe other things? Because you seem happy and content, I thought you could share more on that subject! If I can get my eyes on some good reading to help me bloom where I am planted... well, I just devour it!

I would love to write about this topic! Thanks for asking! :) You are right that I am usually happy and content, but I do still struggle at times with feeling like a failure and not being content with my life. I have to remind myself that as long as I am giving my best right now (laying aside past sins or mistakes) I am not a failure in God's eyes! He has placed us where we are and we're trying to live by faith.

A few short years ago I was not dreaming of living in a 2-bedroom apartment with 4 kids! It's easy to look around and feel like my children deserve "more", but... what is "more"? We have everything we need, and well beyond that. "Things" will NEVER bring lasting joy or contentment! We have "enough" -- and enough is enough.

Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. (1 Timothy 6:6-8 ESV)

Those verses are such a great reminder to me. Here are some of the ways I've found to build contentment and happiness in life:

1. Build and/or maintain a relationship with YHWH, our Creator. Meditating on Scripture and spending time in prayer uplifts my weary spirit and helps adjust my focus. There's just no substitute! I'm blessed with a husband who prays with me each evening, and I pray with the children in the mornings during our Bible time. We seek to be "real" in front of our children and do not pretend that we are perfect as parents or people. They must respect us as their parents, but as humans we are sinners saved by grace. :)


2. Build relationships with others, starting with your family. Take your focus off YOU and off LIFE and focus on others. How often do we neglect what is right in front of us, gazing at what we do not have? Money can not buy time or love, so spend your time wisely, investing in those you love. Your spouse, your children, your parents, your siblings -- whoever is near you, give to them. Laugh with them! You will forget the "stuff" of life because JOY doesn't care if there are holes in your carpet or if your teeth are crooked.

3. Enjoy life's little things. We may not have a lot of "big" things but surely there are some luxuries, even small ones, we enjoy. Some of those luxuries for me are a hot cup of tea, music, a good book, and sunshine! Take time to rest and enjoy the simpler things. For me, I have to remind myself to slow down and not skip the "little" stuff like reading a book to my children, putting on music, or getting out in the sunshine!

4. Thank God for your health. Not everyone is blessed in this area as we are. Joshua and I are both pretty healthy and so are our children. Being able to get up each day, pain-free, is an amazing blessing! Being able to walk, run, smile, see the sunshine, and hear lovely sounds -- wow! :)

5. Ban depression. I do tend to get "down" fairly easily, I think, unless I am actively working against that tendency. Getting exercise, eating well, and DOING things are what seem to help me (along with the things listed in this post, as well). Depression is an awful, slippery downward spiral where I can't even see things as they are. It steals happiness and joy! Being honest with my husband about where I am emotionally and then taking steps to pull out of it are essential.

Our sponsored child


6. Spend time and resources on others. Truly, it is more blessed to give than to receive. I list this one last, but really, it's so important! Along with giving to those we see in need around us, we also sponsor a child through Compassion International. (You can read more about Compassion International on their website.) Our family has done this for over a year and our child, Peter, is such an awesome sweet blessing to all of us! We are able to exchange letters and photos with him and the boys draw pictures and send him stickers, post cards, etc. We pray for him as a family.

Seeing someone who has so little compared to us just really, really brings it all into perspective! I can't describe it, really. Go read Ashleigh's post "From Afar". And then pray about being able to bless a child with financial support, love, and prayer.

Related:

Tips for pulling out of a slump

It's Happy and Sad. (about moving, and life)

Things YHWH has been teaching me (from 4 years ago)

Contentment in All Circumstances by Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking

Eliyahu watches us hang out laundry
These are the happy moments. Right now. Enjoy your now.

Comments

I love your blog and I love how you answered this guestion and all the things you shared. Amen! God bless you and your family! Sharon

Thank you, Sharon!

Yes, we need to be content and enjoy the now... Excellant reminder.... I'm blessed by what you share. :)

~Tanya - mama to 6 treasures. :)

Thank you, Tanya! You are always such a good example of contentment and a blessing to me, too! :)

I LOVED reading this and found so many reminders and new suggestions to try! Thanks for sharing...it truly was uplifting to read and you are so right in all you said. You know sometimes we just need to be reminded that we really do have it better than we realize! I loved the verse you used as well....so clear and to the point and thre is just no way to missunderstand it is there?!

http://cookingwithlittles.blogspot.com

Thank you, Tereza. YES, it is so much a matter of perspective! If I broke my leg tomorrow, I would be thinking of how GOOD life was today! :)

i think it is so good to take time to stop and enjoy things.

Thanks, Martha. I agree! :)

I needed to be reminded of this. We have so much more in this country than most people.We only have to watch the news to see that .Yet, we forget so easily. We need to thank God for all we have.

You're welcome! Yes... it is too easy to forget how blessed we are. I definitely want to cultivate gratitude towards God in my life... and teach it to our children. :)

I try to make time every week to do needlework for charity. My husband and I are not in a place to give financially, but we are still blessed far beyond what many in this world could dream of (I'm on the 'net, aren't I?), so it's important to me that we give in what ways we can.

I strongly encourage those who are in circumstances like mine (no room in the budget for charitable giving) to make a point of giving of their time and talents, whatever those happen to be, even if it's just highlighting causes in a blog so others who are better off can be inspired to give.

Thanks for adding this! I definitely agree about finding lots of ways to give! :) I know our Compassion child came to mind first, simply because there is such a sharp contrast between his life and ours. But truly everything -- our things and our time and our talents -- belongs to God! :)

I needed this today, the first day of homeschooling for us this year again, without lots of trips and sports, etc that others have.....and, 8 of us (6 children) in a 3 bedroom home. Blessings to you!

You're welcome. :)

Wow! I thought we had a small house, and I tell everyone it's "apartment size". We moved in last summer after MIL passed away (it was her house and in better shape than ours). We're a family of 4 (2 teen boys, and hubby & I) with 3 cats living in a 711 sq. ft house. Your apartment (in this post: http://www.tammysrecipes.com/node/3103) is actually bigger than our house by a little bit. We however still have the "old house" which we own that we are using for storage. Maybe I should pay a little more attention to how you organize stuff. Thanks for posting this! I too struggle with being happy with what I have. I totally agree with depression. I've been struggling to stay away from the tunnel. I refuse to go there as I feel there is much better things on the bright side of it.

Yes, actually our apartment is not a super small 2-bedroom. It's bigger than some we looked at! :)

The storage thing is hard when it comes to hobbies. :) Necessities -- like food and clothes, don't take a lot of space. It's all the tennis rackets, kickboards, books, music, games, toys, balls, tricycles, etc... :) Joshua just got supplies for himself and the kids to make water bottle rockets, and it's kinda like, okay, where do we put this stuff? Up on top of the bookshelves with our kite?! lol :)

We do have a small outside storage closet but it's half full of empty boxes (for when we move again) and half full of kids' outside toys. :)

I probably do less organizing and more minimizing... I think making a big move and having to get rid of stuff before we moved made it easier to part with things. I can't imagine moving, like, across town, and trying to figure out what to give away or sell! :)

"I refuse to go there as I feel there is much better things on the bright side of it."

Very true, and a helpful reminder. :) Thank you. :)

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