If not extremely aware, the world around you will do the choosing. What does this look like? Often, it’s a small subtle shift from contentment to discontentment. It’s the world of marketing and advertising.
My college boy is home for spring break and I was offered the gift of taking him shopping yesterday. He hasn’t bought clothes in a long time, so we headed out to hunt for some treasures, hopefully at bargain prices. The first store we entered had a clearance rack hand crafted for his size and taste. We hit the jackpot right out of the gate, even landing a $90 Brooks Brothers shirt for $10, and a $200 Calvin Klein blazer for $40.
It was a thrill for me to be in the moment with my son, enjoying his company and his thankful spirit for helping him find those hidden jewels. Once we hit the third store, however, an adorable skirt caught my eye. Suddenly, I was distracted and my attention shifted from my son to racks of clothes and percentage signs.
Next week, I’ll miss him, not the mustard skirt with brass buttons down the front.
Discontentment will rob us in our relationships, and it will also rob us on the way to the finish line of a goal. We think the thought, I’ll be happy when, more than we’d like to admit.
Today’s self coaching question is: How can I choose to be happy while, instead of when?
It’s a small miracle that I was able to shift my focus back to my son and walk out of our shopping spree with zero purchases for myself, with a feeling of contentment toward his own joy. This is not always the case when it comes to shopping, and certainly not when it comes to personal goals and where I’d like to be in my business. It is far too easy to anticipate later while missing what happens now.
Here are some self coaching questions I can ask when the culture, or my own waywardness, tries to steal my spirit of contentment:
1) What am I thankful for?
Gratitude is directly connected to contentment. Thankfulness is the force behind an ability to notice the blessings right in front of me. Thankfulness is the choice I make when I stop complaining about current circumstances in order to focus on what I already have.
2) What is the most important lesson life is trying to teach me right now?
Right now is the key word here! When my mind is centered on now, I’m not afforded the opportunity to wonder about the future. This is really hard to do, especially when there is a big goal before me, but if I am only set on the goal, I miss who I’m becoming in the process of reaching that goal. I miss the lessons that life teaches me in the journey toward that destination. How is my character being shaped? What wasteful habits am I eradicating through my perseverance? What am I learning right now that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise?
3) When I look back on this time a year from now, what will I wish I had done?
When it comes to yesterday, I know for damn sure I will not wish I’d bought the skirt! I’ll wish I’d lived a fuller moment with my son. Thankfully, I snapped out of my distraction, but I could’ve been even more focused.
What I find most interesting about this question is that I can answer this when it comes to raising my little ones into adulthood. Granted, I have two who are not quite there yet, but we are well out of the baby, toddler-hood, and grade school age. I thank God that I was not focused on my career during those years! I was a zoned in, stay-at-home mom. That was my only job for years, and there is not a doubt in my mind that we are reaping the benefits of that bull’s eye focus now that our three are teenagers. To sit on this side of parenthood without regret is the greatest gift I could give myself. I just need to be careful that I’m still in the now moments with them, while I have more distractions to sidetrack me.
Are you recognizing the magnitude of opportunity before you right now, or are you so far focused on future goals that you’re missing a chance with present day?
4) How have I already made progress?
I am so guilty of this, but at some point I must learn to stop taking myself for granted. I must stop whipping myself for being “less than” I want to be. Sure, I’m not where I’d like to be, in several aspects of my life but, seriously, who is? It’s a little bit like shopping…when we’re out among the rack of deals, there is always more. We never have enough.
Choose instead to stop and recognize the progress you’ve made. Notice the milestones. Celebrate any bit of success.
I used to have a favorite quote as a teenager: “This is not a dress rehearsal. Life is now in session.”
In what ways do you struggle with discontentment? What happens to now if you’re waiting for later?
“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.
Kim’s signature closing:
Welcome new readers, and those well loved! My blogs are focused on authentic Christianity and real life decisions. History proves that my readers interact most comfortably through an email exchange, rather than a public comment. You are always welcome to find me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I welcome your questions or comments and will do my best to respond in a timely manner.
My deepest desire is for you to know Jesus real. He is not just a positive thought, a model to follow, or a comfortable space to hear love. He is life. Adventure. He can be the very air you breathe with just one decision. I never knew Him until I ended up sitting on a dirty field in India. He met me there, and that gripping tale of redemption is found in my life’s work: The Chance to Choose: Become Who You Were Meant to Be One Choice At a Time. I’d love all my reader’s to know the story. It is there where you’ll understand me, and the One I serve, best. Click on printed/signed copy, or Kindle version (also available on Nook and Apple iBook) to purchase, and if you need more, check out the book trailer below: