How to be happy with what you have

WE’RE all familiar with that happy feeling that comes from something new – a relationship, job, or shiny new toy. Here’s how to maintain that high all the time

November 7, 2016 12:55pm

Becoming rapidly accustomed to something new is so common that psychologists have a name for it – hedonic adaptation. Source:Getty Images

I’M A movie buff.

Terminator sci-fi films, 007 spy flicks, Flying High comedy spoofs, Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns, Hitchcock thrillers, classic swashbuckler adventure films – I love them all.

So I was bursting with excitement the day that a new LG 60 inch ultra-high definition Smart TV was delivered to my door.

For the next month, I spent every evening camped out in the lounge room like a kid in a candy store slack-jawed, eyes glued to the screen.

I was in cinematic heaven, overwhelmed by the crystal-clear picture, the dazzling colours, the sweet sound.

Incredibly, though, as each week passed I found that the initial happiness I had tasted when I had first switched on the TV had waned and the screen didn’t seem as large or the picture as stunning anymore. I began wondering if I should have bought the next bigger size.

Becoming rapidly accustomed to something new is so common that psychologists have a name for it – hedonic adaptation.

I am betting you’ve had a similar experience, perhaps when you bought a new car or article of clothing, changed your hair style, relocated to a different city, or began a new job.

Just as you quickly adapt to the heat of a hot bath or a peculiar smell in your own apartment, so too do you adapt to changing life circumstances.

In a landmark study, researchers in Germany surveyed over 800 married couples and found that for the first two years of marriage their happiness increased, but thereafter it returned to the pre-marriage happiness level.

You can see that hedonic adaptation is a double-edged sword. It is beneficial when bad things happen, allowing you to adapt quickly and return to your baseline happiness after losing a job, suffering an illness, or experiencing a relationship breakup.

But it works against you and reduces your happiness following uplifting or positive events.

Fortunately, the power to successfully minimise the effects of hedonic adaptation is within your

control. By making a habit of practising a variety of happiness-inducing activities you will be able to maintain and enjoy a higher level of happiness when good things happen in your life. Here are several activities to help you.

1. Appreciate what you have now, instead of wanting more

The remedy is not to completely stop wanting more, but to enjoy and be thankful for what you

have NOW. Instead of being seduced by the urge to buy another car, coffee maker, or pair of

shoes, write down why you are grateful for similar possessions that you presently own.

Remember the reasons why you bought your current car. Recall the great coffee your machine

makes. Reminisce about the wonderful times you have had wearing the various shoes in your

cupboard. Then, make a conscious effort to enjoy every moment you use those possessions in

2. Relish ordinary experiences

I have worked and lived in some extraordinarily beautiful places around the world, but like most

people, I always became accustomed to my surroundings and never fully appreciated the amazing

opportunities afforded to me.

It took a five-year stint living in the Middle East (and an understanding of hedonic adaptation) to make me appreciate my hometown of Melbourne in Australia.

Ordinary pleasures such as the changing temperature of the seasons, being able to greet strangers on the street, and the rustle of swaying gum trees, things that were non-existent in Saudi Arabia, were now available to me at any time.

I felt as if I was seeing my hometown for the first time. Enhance your everyday feelings of happiness by learning to relish ordinary experiences when at work, at home, and in your relationships.

3. Avoid comparing yourself to others

One of the main culprits behind hedonic adaptation is social comparison. We become envious of

what another person has – perhaps a larger house, a more attractive girlfriend, a faster rise up the career ladder, greater popularity – and so no sooner have we experienced or achieved a positive event in our life than we are already eagerly anticipating the next event.

Consequently, we short-change ourselves of happiness in the moment. Counteract social comparison by savouring your own positive experiences.

Take pride in your own job promotion and of the skills you mastered, enjoy listening to your new hi-fi system with others, every week explore a different area of your new city, and every day learn something new about your partner.

4. Minimise hedonic adaptation in your relationship

The key to increasing your relationship happiness is to think back to when you first dated your

Remember how you listened to their life story in rapt attention? How fascinated you

were in learning about their struggles and successes? How you willingly sacrificed your time to

help them? How you regularly showered them with acts of affection? How you expressed

gratitude for anything they did for you? How you saw them as an equal partner in making

Well, the secret for lasting and fulfilling marriages, and for minimising hedonic

adaptation, is to continue doing what you initially did that captivated your partner in the first

5. Vary your positive experiences

To maintain a happiness activity’s effectiveness you need variety. If exercising gives you

happiness, try varying your morning running route. If you get a buzz out of helping others by

regularly visiting the local retirement village extend your acts of kindness to other domains.

If you keep a gratitude journal and restrict your appreciation for your healthy social life, try counting your blessings with respect to your profession and your family. If you love being affectionate to your husband spice it up a bit by being affectionate in different places and at different times.

Surprise yourself. By varying your happiness activities you will ensure that you continue to find

them stimulating and pleasurable.

Dr Bruce Wells is a happiness expert and a professional speaker. Visit his website for a free ebook. He is the author of Happiness Anywhere Anytime.

Resilience Mastery Coach and Motivational Speaker Read full profile

How to be happy with what you have

  • Share
  • Pin it
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Email

The desire for happiness is a universal human emotion. To some extent, you want to learn how to be happy with yourself in some shape or form. However, not everyone knows how to achieve this state.

Unfortunately, society hasn’t helped with this confusion. We have been conditioned to associate happiness with materialistic possessions.

The line of thinking is that, if we have more things, we will be more fulfilled. As a result, a lot of people spend their entire lives chasing happiness, only to be left feeling defeated when they don’t find their version of utopia.

Happiness is not something that you find external to yourself. You won’t buy a new dress or purchase a new car and feel like you’re living on a cloud for eternity.

Sure, you may feel short-term gratification from a purchase, but this feel-good vibe won’t last. Shortly thereafter, you will be looking for the next best thing to fill a void.

There’s no magic pill for happiness. Happiness is an inside job, a choice that you have to make. Try the following to learn how to be happy with yourself every day.

1. Practice Mindfulness

How you start your day matters. If you begrudgingly roll out of bed, put on a pot of coffee, and rush out the door to work, how do you think your day will unfold?

I don’t know about you, but my emotions end up getting the best of me. If you don’t master your mind, your mind will master you. This is why I’m such a big believer in creating an empowering morning ritual.

When you take the time every morning to nourish your mental and emotional state, you set yourself up for success. Meditate, journal, exercise, recite affirmations, juice, dance. Do whatever it takes to get yourself into a high vibe state.

Yes, meditating is great, but it’s bigger than that. You want to strive to live more mindfully all around. Think of mindfulness as a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience, without judgment [1] .

Strive to be more present in every given moment of your life. Instead of rushing from one thing to the next, take time to pause and enjoy the little things.

2. Be Grateful

Gratitude is a way of living that focuses on seeing the good, no matter how dire one’s circumstances are. Of course, it can be hard to be grateful when you’re going through difficult times in life.

However, there is always a silver lining in every struggle. You just have to be willing to look for it. When you adopt an attitude of gratitude, you shift into a state of appreciation. All of sudden, there is no room for sadness because you are choosing love.

Research shows that gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, and deal with adversity [2] .

If you don’t already, I encourage you to start a gratitude journal. A simple practice like this one only takes a few minutes every day. It has the power to change your life. What are you grateful for?

3. Find Your Tribe

By nature, we are social creatures. Connecting with one another helps us thrive, especially when we are faced with difficult times.

Research shows that people who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression, higher self-esteem, and greater empathy for others [3] .

I wouldn’t be who I am today without the solid tribe of people that I call family. These are my people. Although my circle is small, I know that these people will always have my back, no matter what.

You become the five people whom you surround yourself with. If you want to be a happy and successful person, you need to make sure that your friends have the same vision as you.

Strive to find people who empower you to become a better version of yourself. They will naturally enhance your happiness and make you feel good about yourself.

4. Connect to Your Body Intelligence

Where people get stuck is that they live too much of their lives in their heads and fail to connect with their body intelligence. Your body is a vessel that is constantly speaking to you.

When you don’t listen to it, you end up getting into trouble. The body is intimately connected to the gut. The more that you go inward and bring attention to your body, the more you are able to connect with your intuition.

It is the place of inner wisdom that brings you back home to yourself. In actual fact, every cell in the body is intelligent, with the heart acting like a conductor for the cellular processes taking place within us in each and every moment [4] .

There are a variety of different modalities that allow you to connect to your body intelligence, whether it’s dance, yoga, or chi gong. When you allow yourself to drop out of your head and into your heart, you come to realize that everything you’ve ever needed is already inside of you.

5. Don’t Take Life So Seriously

Life is so short. If you spend the entire ride worrying and agonizing about everything, you will miss so many beautiful moments. Not only that, but it will create dis-ease in the body.

An overemphasis on seriousness in life lends itself to a narrow way of understanding what’s worth your time and attention [5] .

In childhood, we are encouraged to play and be free. However, a lot of people lose this desire once they become adults. If you can relate to this, let me ask your something… what would happen if you slowed down and took the time to enjoy life more?

You don’t want to get to the end of your life and wish that you had laughed and smiled more often. Nobody wants to live with regrets.

The next time that you’re taking yourself too seriously, step back and ask yourself: “Is this situation worth getting so frustrated over?” If not, move on and get back to enjoying life.

Final Thoughts

You can’t always control the external world. However, you can always control your internal world. Finding simple ways to be happy with yourself every day is a commitment. However, it’s worth the effort because you deserve to live a happy life.

Written by joshua becker · 34 Comments

Last updated: December 21, 2019

Happiness is a state of mind. Specifically, it is a state of “well-being and contentment.”

But the definition can be tricky and assumptions about the word can cause confusion. Many don’t even realize learning how to be happy is something that can be intentionally practiced. Some people, when they hear the word ‘happiness,’ assume it is speaking of an emotion such as pleasure or joy. For them, it is what people feel in the immediate here and now.

This is the reason some people say, “Don’t pursue happiness, seek joy. Happiness is fickle and fading, joy remains forever.”

But this short-term definition of happiness is not how everyone understands the word. Some define it to mean long-term satisfaction.

In fact, when I speak of experiencing happiness in life, I am not thinking of short-term emotions at all. I think of a quality of living—a much longer-term view of the word.

Both definitions are understood to be correct and speak of different realities.

But are they really that different? I don’t think so.

After all, a long-term experience of life satisfaction is almost certainly made up of many short-term feelings of joy and pleasure. Does that mean every day is a great day with no trials, temptations, or downturns? Certainly not. But it does mean when we look back at the many seasons of life, we can look back satisfied at how we navigated them.

The long-term feeling of life satisfaction is most experienced when we embrace the emotion of joy in the here and now.

And we accomplish that by taking steps each day to be happy. Here are some tips on how to be happier starting today.

Daily Actions

1. Choose happiness

The most important thing to realize about happiness is that it is not an outcome of current circumstances. Just the opposite, happiness is a choice. Is this easier on some days than others? Absolutely. But if you get caught in the trap of thinking your circumstances need to change before you can be happy, you’ll never, ever get there.

2. Focus on the good

There are good things in your life right now: you are alive, you are fed, you are healthy, you have family and friends, and you have opportunit i es each day to pursue meaningful work. Maybe not all of those are true for you right now, but certainly some of them are—which means there is good in your life that you can focus on.

Marine Sgt. Jonny Joseph Jones lost both of his legs in an explosion while serving in Afghanistan. I was struck by a quote of his I saw recently. He said this, “People ask how I stay so positive after losing my legs… I simply ask how they stay so negative when they have both of theirs.”

Happiness is about perspective and if you’re looking for reasons to be happy, you’ll probably find them. Happy people focus on positive thoughts.

3. Stop comparing

No matter how you choose to define happiness—short-term or long-term—comparison will rob you of it. Whether we compare our finances, our body type, our vacations, our talents, our house size or our shoe size, there are no winners in the game of comparison. But here’s the good news: Nobody is forcing you to play! You can stop any time you want. Be grateful for what you have, appreciate who you are, work hard every day to live your best life, and stop comparing yourself to others.

4. Practice gratitude and generosity

In the world of positive psychology, there are a few themes that emerge every time happiness is studied. Among those recurring themes, we find gratitude and generosity.

Both of which can only be understood correctly when we see them as disciplines rather than responses. A discipline is something we practice regardless of our circumstances. If you are waiting for enough money to become generous, you’ll never get there. Likewise, if you are waiting for everything to be perfect to be grateful, you’ll never experience it. Choose to be thankful today. And choose to be generous with your time and money. Making them both a discipline in your life will result in a happier today… and tomorrow.

5. Don’t pursue physical possessions

Possessions are necessary for life, but our society has seemed to confuse consumerism with happiness. Marketers work hard to convince us their products are not just needed for life, but that they are essential for happiness.

Slowly but surely, we begin to believe their empty promises and waste our lives pursuing things that can never satisfy. We sacrifice time, money, energy, and focus chasing and accumulating things we do not need.

These excess possessions add stress, worry, and burden onto our lives. Want to become a bit more happy today? Go declutter a closet or drawer and start to challenge consumerism in your life.

6. Be present in your relationships

Robert J. Waldinger is an American psychiatrist and Professor at Harvard Medical School where he is best known for directing the world’s longest-running longitudinal study tracking the health and mental well-being of a group of 724 American men for 76 years.

One thing that he has learned, and has been confirmed by studies elsewhere, is that relationships hold the key to happiness:

Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives, the study revealed. Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes.

We don’t get to control every aspect of our relationships (we didn’t choose our family, for example). But we can all take steps to be a good friend. And good friends tend to attract healthy community.

7. Develop healthy habits

Annie Dillard is credited for saying, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” And she is right. Our lives are filled with days, our days are filled with hours, and this present hour is filled with whatever you chose to fill it with. So pursue healthy habits that add value to your hours, days, and lifetime.

Spend time outside. Eat healthy. Exercise regularly. Quit smoking. Put down your cell phone. Work hard. Pray often. And get enough sleep.

8. Look outside yourself

The pursuit of self comes natural to us. We don’t need to be reminded to pursue our own self-interests. We pursue self-survival, self-promotion, self-actualization, and self-exaltation as if it is hardwired in our genes.

But the most efficient pathway to lasting happiness and fulfillment is not to look only at your own interests, but also to the interests of others. When we shift our focus off of ourselves, we live lives of greater meaning and greater contribution. When we serve others without concern over what we might receive in return, we experience the beauty of selfless love. The size of our universe (and happiness) begins to expand exponentially.

It is no small thing that happiness is pursued by so many. Let’s make sure we find it—in both the short term and the long term.

How happy are you―really? If there’s room for improvement, finally learn how to be happy with these suggestions.

A few years ago, on a morning like any other, I had a sudden realization: I was in danger of wasting my life. As I stared out the rain-spattered window of a New York City bus, I saw that the years were slipping by.

“What do I want from life?” I asked myself. “Well…I want to be happy.” I had many reasons to be happy: My husband was the tall, dark, handsome love of my life; we had two delightful girls; I was a writer, living in my favorite city. I had friends; I had my health; I didn’t have to color my hair. But too often I sniped at my husband or the drugstore clerk. I felt dejected after even a minor professional setback. I lost my temper easily. Is that how a happy person would act?

I decided on the spot to begin a systematic study of happiness. (A little intense, I know. But that’s the kind of thing that appeals to me.) In the end, I spent a year test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and tips from popular culture—happy planner, happy color, happy stuff, and all. If I followed all the advice for how to feel happy, I wanted to know, would it work?

Well, the year is over, and I can say: It did. I made myself happier. And along the way I learned a lot about how to be happier. Here are those lessons.

1. Don’t start with profundities. When I began my Happiness Project, I realized pretty quickly that, rather than jumping in with lengthy daily meditation or answering deep questions of self-identity, I should start with the basics, like going to sleep at a decent hour and not letting myself get too hungry. Science backs this up; these two factors have a big impact on happiness.

2. Do let the sun go down on anger. I had always scrupulously aired every irritation as soon as possible, to make sure I vented all bad feelings before bedtime. Studies show, however, that the notion of anger catharsis is poppycock. Expressing anger related to minor, fleeting annoyances just amplifies bad feelings, while not expressing anger often allows it to dissipate.

3. Fake it till you feel it. Feelings follow actions. If I’m feeling low, I deliberately act cheery, and I find myself actually feeling happier. If I’m feeling angry at someone, I do something thoughtful for her and my feelings toward her soften. This strategy is uncannily effective.

RELATED: How to Avoid Spoiling Your Kids

4. Realize that anything worth doing is worth doing badly. Challenge and novelty are key elements of happiness. The brain is stimulated by surprise, and successfully dealing with an unexpected situation gives a powerful sense of satisfaction. People who do new things―learn a game, travel to unfamiliar places―are happier than people who stick to familiar activities that they already do well. I often remind myself to “Enjoy the fun of failure” and tackle some daunting goal.

5. Don’t treat the blues with a “treat.” Often the things I choose as “treats” aren’t good for me. The pleasure lasts a minute, but then feelings of guilt and loss of control and other negative consequences deepen the lousiness of the day. While it’s easy to think, I’ll feel good after I have a few glasses of wine…a pint of ice cream…a cigarette…a new pair of jeans, it’s worth pausing to ask whether this will truly make things better.

6. Buy some happiness. Our basic psychological needs include feeling loved, secure, and good at what we do. You also want to have a sense of control. Money doesn’t automatically fill these requirements, but it sure can help. I’ve learned to look for ways to spend money to stay in closer contact with my family and friends; to promote my health; to work more efficiently; to eliminate sources of irritation and marital conflict; to support important causes; and to have enlarging experiences. For example, when my sister got married, I splurged on a better digital camera. It was expensive, but it gave me a lot of happiness.

7. Don’t insist on the best. There are two types of decision makers. Satisficers (yes, satisficers) make a decision once their criteria are met. When they find the hotel or the pasta sauce that has the qualities they want, they’re satisfied. Maximizers want to make the best possible decision. Even if they see a bicycle or a backpack that meets their requirements, they can’t make a decision until they’ve examined every option. Satisficers tend to be happier than maximizers. Maximizers expend more time and energy reaching decisions, and they’re often anxious about their choices. Sometimes good enough is good enough.

8. Exercise to boost energy. I knew, intellectually, that this worked, but how often have I told myself, “I’m just too tired to go to the gym”? Exercise is one of the most dependable mood-boosters. Even a 10-minute walk can brighten my outlook.

9. Stop nagging. I knew my nagging wasn’t working particularly well, but I figured that if I stopped, my husband would never do a thing around the house. Wrong. If anything, more work got done. Plus, I got a surprisingly big happiness boost from quitting nagging. I hadn’t realized how shrewish and angry I had felt as a result of speaking like that. I replaced nagging with the following persuasive tools: wordless hints (for example, leaving a new lightbulb on the counter); using just one word (saying “Milk!” instead of talking on and on); not insisting that something be done on my schedule; and, most effective of all, doing a task myself. Why did I get to set the assignments?

10. Take action. Some people assume happiness is mostly a matter of inborn temperament: You’re born an Eeyore or a Tigger, and that’s that. Although it’s true that genetics play a big role, about 40 percent of your happiness level is within your control. Taking time to reflect, and making conscious steps to make your life happier, really does work. So use these tips to start your own Happiness Project. I promise it won’t take you a whole year.

Written by joshua becker · 69 Comments

How to be happy with what you have

Last updated: October 29, 2019

“Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty.” —Socrates

There were many reasons we chose to become minimalist and simplify our lives. We were frustrated with clutter. We discovered the time that was wasted managing our possessions. We realized joy was not found in our possessions. And we determined that we value other things far more than physical belongings. This initial process of simplifying our home required energy, effort, and encouragement.

But the process of remaining minimalist and living this counter-cultural lifestyle against all odds requires something completely different. It requires knowing how to be content.

Contentment is the lifeblood of minimalism. And without it, the journey towards minimalism is short-lived. Discontent will always rear its ugly head and become a great obstacle to fully thriving in a simple and happy life.

Not only does contentment provide the opportunity for minimalism, it also reduces your stress level, improves your outlook, relaxes your body, and makes your life enjoyable. There is an unmistakable freedom that accompanies contentment: a freedom to be who you are, enjoy who you are, and live the life you were destined to live.

Yet in our consumeristic-culture where discontent is promoted and material gratification is encouraged, learning to be content can be very difficult. It is certainly a personal journey that we all must travel and nobody’s journey will look the same.

Finding Contentment

Although there is no one-size-fits-all program to fully-attain contentment, you can still learn how to be content by being intentional. Here are six tips you can apply today to find more contentment in your life:

1. Practice gratitude. It is impossible to develop contentment without gratitude—they are inseparable. And a grateful person is one who has learned to focus on the good things in their life, not the things they lack. The simple discipline of beginning the exercise will undoubtedly shift your focus back to the many good things you already have.

2. Take control of your attitude. A person who lacks contentment in their life will often engage in “when and then thinking” – “when I get _______, then I will be happy.” Instead, take control of your attitude. Remember, your happiness is not reliant on the acquisition of any possession. Your happiness is based solely on your decision to be happy—this may be one of the most important life lessons you can ever learn.

3. Break the buying habit. For many of us, it has been ingrained into our lives that the proper way to diffuse discontent is to purchase the outward item that is seemingly causing the discontentment. Almost no energy is spent determining the true root of the discontent. Are you dissatisfied with your wardrobe? Go buy new clothes. Not content with your vehicle? Go buy a new one. We have gotten into the habit of satisfying our discontent by simply spending more money.

We must break that habit. Material possessions will never fully satisfy the desires of your heart (that’s why discontent always returns). The next time you recognize discontentment surfacing in your life, refuse to give into that bad habit. Instead, commit to better understand yourself and why the lack of that item is causing discontent. Only after you intentionally break this thinking will true contentment begin to surface.

4. Stop comparing yourself to others. Comparing your life with someone else’s will always lead to discontentment. There will always be people who “appear” to be better off than you and seemingly living the perfect life. But be advised, we always compare the worst of what we know about ourselves to the best assumptions we make about others. Their life is never as perfect as your mind makes it out to be. You are unique. You are special. Your life is different. And it’s always better that way. Prioritize learning how to stop comparing yourself to others.

5. Help others. When you begin helping others, sharing your talents, time and money, you will find yourself learning to be content. The practice will give you a finer appreciation for what you own, who you are, and what you have to offer.

6. Be content with what you have, never with what you are. Never stop learning, growing, or discovering. Take pride in your personhood and the progress that you have made, but never become so content that you cannot find room for improvement. Contentment is not the same as complacency. As soon as you stop growing, you start dying.

FAQ About How to Be Content

What is the definition of contentment?

Contentment is finding joy in what we already have in our lives, feeling or showing satisfaction with our possessions, status, or situation. It’s being happy without trying to find fulfillment in acquiring more material possessions.

What are the benefits of contentment?

Contentment allows us to stop comparing ourselves to others and it allows us to break the cycle of wanting more. It lets us be grateful and happy for all that we have. This approach to life is scientifically proven to reduce your stress level, improve your outlook, relax your body, and make life more enjoyable.

What is the difference between contentment and complacency?

The difference can seem minor but there’s actually a world of difference. Contentment is to be happy with what you have and find satisfaction in your present circumstances. Complacency is being unsatisfied with how your life is in the moment but still being unwilling to make changes to improve your situation.

Is contentment a choice?

Absolutely, although it’s not as easy as it sounds. Learning how to be content comes from a combination of intentional mindset shifts, habit changes, and being aware of our thoughts and actions.

Joshua Becker is the WSJ Best-Selling author of The More of Less and The Minimalist Home. He has appeared on numerous media outlets including The NYT, WSJ, USA Today, and CBS.

RECEIVE ARTICLES BY EMAIL

Sign up below and we’ll deliver new articles directly to your inbox.

Success! Now check your email to confirm your subscription.

Comments

How to be happy with what you haveBob Kennedy says

Great thoughts ! My wife and I have been married for 50 years and young people ask me the secret. When I say we are content they don’t hear a big revelation but content means in a state of peaceful happiness. We have enough.

How to be happy with what you have

Post Updated on December 27, 2019

I spent much of my college life comparing myself to others. I wished I had more clothes, more friends, and more money. I wanted to be more outgoing, prettier, smarter, and thinner. I was trying to change myself to be more like the people who I thought were better than me. We’ve all been there, and it’s hard not to let these sort of thoughts creep into our heads.

How to be happy with what you have

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I became more content with what I already had in life. Maybe it was part of the growing up process or maybe got tired of wishing I had more. Either way, I started to feel at peace with what I already owned, who I was, and the situations I couldn’t change.

I no longer wanted to waste my mental and physical energy trying to be someone I wasn’t. I was tired of worrying whether people would like me more if I had cuter clothes or a *bigger* personality.

Instead, I tried to be more accepting of myself and others.

I opened my eyes to the things I was taking for granted. I challenged myself to be patient and compassionate, even if I was being judgmental or ungrateful.

When we constantly wish that things were different, we miss out on the little joys right in front of our eyes. I realized that if I was always hoping and wishing for more, I’d be wasting most of my life away.

So how did I become content with what I already have? With awareness, acceptance, and patience. Here’s how you can cultivate these three things in your life to feel more content with what you already have:

How to be content with what is

Cultivate Awareness

In order to be content with what you already have, you need to become aware of what you already have. Most of us are so focused on the future that we rarely stop to appreciate what’s right in front of our eyes. Instead, be willing to open your mind to the good things that are already happening in your life.

One way to create more awareness is to list three things you’re grateful for every day. My favorite way to do this is with The Five-Minute Journal as it prompts you to write what you’re grateful for every single day. If gratitude lists aren’t your thing, you could write a list of things that bring you joy or simply things you care about (people, places, causes, etc). The 52 Lists for Happiness by Moorea Seal is a great journaling tool to get you thinking about what brings you joy.

Of course there are moments when you’ll compare yourself to others or wish that you had something more in life. Remember that these moments will pass and you won’t feel this way forever. If anything, mindfulness teaches you that none of your thoughts, feelings or beliefs have to be permanent.

Accept What You Can’t Change

Once you’ve become more aware of what you already have (it takes regular practice), you have to cultivate greater acceptance – of yourself, situations, and others. Acceptance is the willingness to see things as they are in the present, not clouded by judgment and bias.

Think you need to be better at something or feel that you should be more like so-and-so? Ask yourself if these thoughts are coming from a place of self-compassion. If they’re fueled by jealousy or comparison, take a step back and ask yourself what is most important for you right now: accepting yourself as you are or trying to make yourself into someone completely different.

This doesn’t mean that you should passively accept everything as it is. Obviously there is always room for improvement (especially in our world today), but acceptance means not forcing things to be a particular way. Instead, stay open to the idea that there is more than one way to do something (and that means not living your life the same way as everybody else).

Practice Patience

Patience is about letting things unfold in their own time. If you allow yourself grace, compassion, and patience, you will see that you already have everything you need to be content with your life. Sometimes we rush into things or make impulsive decisions because we’re afraid of missing out.

Patience will help you make the right decision every time.

Take the pressure off yourself by giving yourself some breathing room. Step away from seeking answers and let them come. Sometimes you have to trust the process and believe that you’ll get where you need to be (even if you don’t know how). Start embracing the moment and be open to wherever it takes you.

Which three things are you grateful for today?

Being content with what you have isn’t exactly easy, but it is possible. If you find yourself wishing life was different, remember that awareness, acceptance, and patience are the keys to living with contentment.

How to be happy with what you have

Post Updated on December 27, 2019

I spent much of my college life comparing myself to others. I wished I had more clothes, more friends, and more money. I wanted to be more outgoing, prettier, smarter, and thinner. I was trying to change myself to be more like the people who I thought were better than me. We’ve all been there, and it’s hard not to let these sort of thoughts creep into our heads.

How to be happy with what you have

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I became more content with what I already had in life. Maybe it was part of the growing up process or maybe got tired of wishing I had more. Either way, I started to feel at peace with what I already owned, who I was, and the situations I couldn’t change.

I no longer wanted to waste my mental and physical energy trying to be someone I wasn’t. I was tired of worrying whether people would like me more if I had cuter clothes or a *bigger* personality.

Instead, I tried to be more accepting of myself and others.

I opened my eyes to the things I was taking for granted. I challenged myself to be patient and compassionate, even if I was being judgmental or ungrateful.

When we constantly wish that things were different, we miss out on the little joys right in front of our eyes. I realized that if I was always hoping and wishing for more, I’d be wasting most of my life away.

So how did I become content with what I already have? With awareness, acceptance, and patience. Here’s how you can cultivate these three things in your life to feel more content with what you already have:

How to be content with what is

Cultivate Awareness

In order to be content with what you already have, you need to become aware of what you already have. Most of us are so focused on the future that we rarely stop to appreciate what’s right in front of our eyes. Instead, be willing to open your mind to the good things that are already happening in your life.

One way to create more awareness is to list three things you’re grateful for every day. My favorite way to do this is with The Five-Minute Journal as it prompts you to write what you’re grateful for every single day. If gratitude lists aren’t your thing, you could write a list of things that bring you joy or simply things you care about (people, places, causes, etc). The 52 Lists for Happiness by Moorea Seal is a great journaling tool to get you thinking about what brings you joy.

Of course there are moments when you’ll compare yourself to others or wish that you had something more in life. Remember that these moments will pass and you won’t feel this way forever. If anything, mindfulness teaches you that none of your thoughts, feelings or beliefs have to be permanent.

Accept What You Can’t Change

Once you’ve become more aware of what you already have (it takes regular practice), you have to cultivate greater acceptance – of yourself, situations, and others. Acceptance is the willingness to see things as they are in the present, not clouded by judgment and bias.

Think you need to be better at something or feel that you should be more like so-and-so? Ask yourself if these thoughts are coming from a place of self-compassion. If they’re fueled by jealousy or comparison, take a step back and ask yourself what is most important for you right now: accepting yourself as you are or trying to make yourself into someone completely different.

This doesn’t mean that you should passively accept everything as it is. Obviously there is always room for improvement (especially in our world today), but acceptance means not forcing things to be a particular way. Instead, stay open to the idea that there is more than one way to do something (and that means not living your life the same way as everybody else).

Practice Patience

Patience is about letting things unfold in their own time. If you allow yourself grace, compassion, and patience, you will see that you already have everything you need to be content with your life. Sometimes we rush into things or make impulsive decisions because we’re afraid of missing out.

Patience will help you make the right decision every time.

Take the pressure off yourself by giving yourself some breathing room. Step away from seeking answers and let them come. Sometimes you have to trust the process and believe that you’ll get where you need to be (even if you don’t know how). Start embracing the moment and be open to wherever it takes you.

Which three things are you grateful for today?

Being content with what you have isn’t exactly easy, but it is possible. If you find yourself wishing life was different, remember that awareness, acceptance, and patience are the keys to living with contentment.

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”

Aristotle said this more than 2,000 years ago. And it still holds true today. What is the true purpose of life, if not to live a happy life until we die?

Happiness is one of the most sought-after goals in life, yet for many it seems to be elusive. It’s easy to delude ourselves into thinking, “When I just have that nice house and new car, then I can be happy.” But in reality, happiness is available to all of us, right now. A big house or a new car won’t actually make you happier; it’s the simple joys in life that bring true happiness. Read on to learn 15 simple ways that you can start living a happier life today.

1. Do What You Love
If your passion is playing soccer, writing poems, or teaching children how to swim, make time to do it. You’ll find that when you’re doing what you love, you’re filled with joy. How much better does that sound than forcing yourself do something you don’t like?

2. Help Others
Sometimes after we’ve achieved our own personal goals, we still feel empty inside because we haven’t made a meaningful contribution to someone else’s life. When we volunteer or help others, it feels good to just be of service to someone else. The impact we make feels fulfilling and is a big potential source for our own happiness.

3. Be Thankful
When you think of all the things that you have to be grateful for, you realize how blessed you already are. Without even realizing it, we take our basic necessities for granted — a roof over your head and plenty of food to eat. By appreciating the things that you already have, you’ll begin to feel happier in your life.

4. Share With Others
When we share our thoughts, our time, and our abilities with others we feel better for it. A life lived without sharing can become lonely. When you share with others, they’ll feel great towards you and help you to feel more joy in your own life.

5. Smile More
Practice smiling more and see how it affects you internally, as well as those around you. You can always afford to give a smile. Smiling can make you happier — even if you have to force it, you’ll still feel better.

6. Exercise
When was the last time you went to the gym or worked out? Exercise reduces stress and releases endorphins, also known as a “runner’s high.” Playing sports is a fun way to exercise as well, whether it’s kicking around a soccer ball or shooting hoops.

7. Seek Out a Life Coach
A life coach will help you to evaluate your life and why you’re not feeling happy in it. Maybe you’re holding limiting beliefs or you have an emotional block without realizing it. By speaking to a life coach, you can uncover why you’re actually unhappy and what you can do to feel better.

8. Find Ways to Manage Stress
Don’t let stress rob you of your birthright to be happy. You deserve to be happy, and it wouldn’t be right to let stress get in the way. Practices such as meditation can help you to manage stress better and feel great.

9. Eat Healthy
It’s much more challenging to feel truly happy when you’re sick. But when you eat right, you feel better both physically and mentally. And you’ll avoid that guilty feeling that you just pigged out on junk food.

10. Spend Time With Your Loved Ones
There’s no replacement for spending quality time with your loved ones. We’re social beings, even if you’re an introvert or a loner. People love spending time with their friends and family for good conversation, bonding, and some laughs. Life’s too short to live it completely alone.

11. Dump Negative Thinking
You already know that negative thinking will bring you down. So how do you stop it? Become more aware of it and try replacing your negative thoughts with some positive ones. Spend less time with negative people and more time with positive people.

12. Give More Gifts
You don’t have to give expensive gifts; sometimes a poem, a quick note, or a thoughtful email will brighten someone else’s day, and yours. Share what you can give to all the wonderful people in your life.

13. Forgive and Forget
Holding a grudge will harm you more than the person you’re holding it against. Ask yourself, “What would it take for me to let go of the past?” and notice how you feel when you let go of your anger for a few seconds. Focus instead on a bright future and you’ll feel better for it.

14. Take a Walk in Nature
Spending time out in nature can be very refreshing and renewing, especially when you’re living in an artificial, manmade world. Taking a walk in your local woods or park and getting some fresh air can allow you to appreciate the beauty of the natural world.

15. Be Yourself
As Steve Jobs said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” Accept who you are, just be yourself, and you’ll feel a world of difference.

Want to be happier? Click here to learn how you can live a happy life with life coaching. A life coach is a professional who helps you to be happier, reach your goals, and find your true purpose in life. See how a simple shift in your thinking and attitude towards life can make you feel a whole lot happier.