Get To Know Yourself For Real
A life of contentment can take time, trial and error, and openness to achieve. Perfection doesn’t exist, but that isn’t what contentment is. When I talk about having a life where you feel content, I’m referring to a lifestyle or a way of being that makes you feel good and brings you happiness.
The first step to finding contentment in day to day life is to get to know yourself. What genuinely makes you happy? Is it being around friends, creating things, keeping busy, giving your time to special causes, cooking, hiking, etc.? The way to find out what will bring you a general sense of peace and wellbeing is to ask yourself what it is you look forward to the most after a long work week or after getting over a sickness like the cold – is it relaxing at home, cooking, travelling, trying something new, spending time with people, going out somewhere, etc.?
Peace Is Subjective
What works for me may not work for you. My idea of peace could be very different from someone else’s. We all have different needs, motivations, interests, personalities, etc.. Some people may even find the idea of peace boring and prefer a life that’s always on the go or always changing. Other people might be new parents so the idea of peace seems laughable, or someone might work in the military where chaos can hit at any time. The key is that you stay true to yourself and focus on what you really need for the present moment to work around obstacles or uncertainties that may arise.
Acknowledge What You Actually Like To Do
If you had one paid month off from work where you could do whatever activity you wanted without any restrictions or judgement, what would you actually want to do? In general, do you want your life to be chill, quiet, relaxed, balanced, solitary, peaceful? Or do you prefer action, social events, being around people, exploring, hustling? Or is it a mixture of relaxation and action? Your personal interests will be as unique as you are. Sometimes what you really want isn’t the life you’re currently living.
Figure Out How To Get Where You Want
Maybe you feel pressured to live a life contrary to the one that feels right for you. If that is the case, how can you get from where you are to where you want to be? Usually you can achieve the life you want through a series of steps set within a reasonable time frame. You may not be able to wake up the next day and start living the dream life you always wanted, but over time you can definitely work to get there. The key is: You have to work for it. No one else can get it for you. You need to put in the effort to get what you want and there will be setbacks, but that’s when you’ll need to persevere. It’s the only way to grow and create the change you want.
There were a couple of times, years ago now, where I felt trapped in a place I didn’t want to be and it hindered my inspiration to create and write. What helped me get out of those ruts was realizing I had the power and strength to get where I wanted to go.
Prepare To Work For What You Want
In 2013 I caught the travel bug and hey, Canada is a beautiful place. Each province is like its own country with special things to offer. I knew I wanted to travel, but in the beginning, I didn’t quite know what I wanted aside from publishing books, seeing beautiful sights, feeling free, and finding myself. I had a great period of personal growth for that first year on my own living in different areas of Alberta. I had always lived close to home before I set out on my quest to explore, so this was very new for me.
Until I was 29, I was always in a relationship (normally a long term one) and I needed time as a single person to venture out and meet new people and figure out what it was I really wanted. I was always a self aware person, even as a kid, but I didn’t always feel like I had the space to express myself in the way I wanted. While in my “wilderness” period during 2013-2014, I learned an incredible amount about myself. I got therapy in addition to learning more about psychology and mental health, leading me to eventually get a college diploma in mental health counseling. But that period where I worked and lived in different areas wasn’t always easy, but overall it was amazing and I still feel nostalgia when I think back to that time. I don’t regret one moment of that journey, because a) it was my choice to take that path and b) it made me who I am today.
Does Where You Live Matter To You?
One of my dreams had always been to visit or live in Vancouver. I heard people talk about how rainy it was so I imagined it as this dreamy place on the coast surrounded by mountains with lovely rain. I always liked rainy days. When I reached Vancouver after spending some time at a wilderness lodge in norther BC, I fell in love with the city right away. It seemed to have everything I wanted – nature, the beach, city life, cafes for days, artsy communities, and well, the rainy season didn’t arrive until the fall to my surprise. Vancouver isn’t as rainy as the stereotypes often claim, but sure enough, the rains came once November hit. Taking the sky train to work around sunrise every morning was pure magic. Being a girl from a smaller city (And growing up in a village) this sort of thing was an absolute privilege and pleasure to witness. Though it took me a lot of personal work and resiliency to make it here, when I arrived, I knew this was the place for me.
For some people, where they live doesn’t matter that much. It’s more about who they’re with or what type of job they do. Where I live is important. The people matter as well, but ultimately, I need to live in a spot that feels right for my creativity and overall wellbeing.
Your Living Situation Matters A Great Deal
I need to live in my own place. I’ve lived in roommate situations before and unless the person I live with is very independent and generally does their own thing, it won’t work. I need a place of my own to come home to at the end of the day to feel peaceful and relaxed. Most people are nice and many of them are curious about how their house mate’s day went or they might want to have a chat in the kitchen. That doesn’t work for me for day to day life – my travelling solidified this fact for me. I like cooking alone with some music on, I enjoy waking up in peace with no noises created by other people. I don’t have to explain what I’m doing or why I’m doing it when I live alone. When I want to go out to an event or any kind of social gathering, I can have time with people then come home to my own place, which creates the best balance for me. If anything, living alone gives me more available energy for socializing.
I would surely be able to live with a significant other if they’re independent and respectful of space like I am. Not surprisingly, I tend to be more attracted to people who are introverted and have some kind of side hustle or hobby that keeps them busy, because it means they won’t rob me of the freedom I need on a daily basis. This type of thing matters a great deal.
Lose The Guilt For Having The Lifestyle You Want
Autonomy is on my top 5 list of needs for having a content life. It’s non-negotiable. It creates the foundation I need to be creative, peaceful, free, content, etc. I do enjoy social interactions with people. Even the most introverted person wants a friend or two and probably wants a relationship of some kind. All humans need some social interaction, but I need a lot less than the average person does.
I’m energized by alone time and drained by prolonged social activity (This is what makes an introvert an introvert).
The point I want to make here is that I had to come to terms with this need for my alone time so I could stop feeling guilty. This is a key thing in living a life you feel satisfied with – living true to yourself unapologetically. Some people won’t understand why you need to live a certain way (i.e. Living alone). Others will bluntly tell you that you’re doing things wrong or that you’re weird. They don’t have to understand. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for doing things you need to do to feel happy. Shedding that guilt is best for your wellbeing. Everyone has a right to live in a way that best suits them as long as they are not harming others.
Don’t Let The Past Hold You Back
You need to let go of the past to fully embrace the present and prepare well for the future. That’s not to say you can’t ever reminisce or bring up certain situations from the past. What I mean is you shouldn’t hold resentment toward others or keep yourself planted in a bad situation you had years ago. I’ll tell you right now that you’ll never find peace if your present is still linked to your past. I recommend that you get therapy or counseling if you need to and acknowledge the hurt you felt in those previous situations. Sometimes the past will hold us if we don’t address it head on, so it stays there in the background and prevents you from maturing or growing.
You deserve to move on from anything that is holding you back. If someone did something terrible to you, the best revenge is to be happy and move on with your life. Your life isn’t about them and they have no right to be in your head if they didn’t add anything good to your life. If someone close to you hurt you and you want to maintain that relationship, it will take some effort for both of you to discuss it, apologize if needed, and forgive so you can move on.
If you have severe PTSD or any other mood disorder stemming from a past situation, this may take more time to work through. You deserve to heal and you should give yourself the time and space to do so. In these cases, it’s best to be gentle with yourself and put your full energy into healing your mental health before planning a big change in your life.
In the end, all we have is the present moment so this is why I try not to think too much about the past. It has no place in my current life. While I had my fair share of crazy or disturbing experiences, I decided long ago that I want to enjoy the present and look forward to each day and overall, it has worked very well for me. I also had a lot of amazing experiences from childhood until now and I am very lucky to have lived the life I have.
Don’t Wait For The Weekend
I try to do something special each day to give it meaning or beauty. That can be as simple as watching a sunset after work, making a delicious dinner, treating myself, going for a walk somewhere cool, making a tea and enjoying, etc. It’s nice to look forward to the weekend, but try not to get stuck in the habit of looking forward to the next big thing and instead try to focus on doing things you enjoy on weekdays, too.
A Final Thought
I realize that things can change, sometimes in a heart beat. A pandemic can shutdown the entire world within a few weeks, as we’ve all witnessed. Someone can lost their job suddenly or have their hours cut. People you love might leave or let you down. Through all this uncertainty, you can still live a happy life. In fact, creating a daily lifestyle that you enjoy can be the thing that stabilizes you when life’s uncertainties hit the fan. Change is inevitable, but it shouldn’t be feared. If you’re flexible, you can roll with the changes. Regardless of how bad things can get at times, you can always rebuild and start again.