Being Happy In Your Now
In this fast paced, selfie-loving, goal oriented, and – dare I say it? – greedy world we live in, finding happiness through contentment is not common. There’s such a drive to have more, be better, live bigger, be prettier, and that’s not altogether bad when that drives us to live excellently; however, the beauty of being content with where you are, with what you have, and with where you’re going can lead to peace and a general feeling of happiness.
The Oxford Dictionary defines contentment as: “A state of happiness and satisfaction.” It’s also listed as a synonym for happiness.
Contentment is not a boring and frumpy state of being comfortable and dreamless; rather, it’s being happy in your now.
Looking to the future, setting goals, dreaming about tomorrow – those are all good and helpful things. But it’s also good to be content with where you are, while you’re doing all that dreaming and goal setting.
I think the word ‘contentment’ has gotten this bum rap lately. It’s become this idea of someone being unmotivated to better themselves or their surroundings. I don’t think, in actuality, contentment has anything to do with motivation or the future – it’s about being completely present where you are, finding the best parts of your situation and focusing on that.
That’s easy to do when life is good, but what about when life is hard? Contentment – or a state of happiness and satisfaction – might be easy for some, but not when _________________ is going on, right? (Feel free to fill in the blank – we’ve all got stuff going on in our lives!)
In Philippians 4 in the NIV, Paul says, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
As we probably all know, Paul was no stranger to difficulties. He also was no couch potato. Paul was a very motivated man on a very specific mission with a very clear goal. He knew all the privileges of being a Roman citizen (a highly coveted position in that day that gave him the right to own property, to have a fair trial, to avoid brutality from soldiers, and to vote, among other things) and he knew all the sorrows of being a prisoner in chains, and eventually, being martyred for his faith (as is commonly believed, and recorded in The Acts of Paul). He was not immune to difficult times, and yet even in those, he learned to be content.
Sometimes life throws things at us that make a state of happiness and satisfaction feel impossible. Tragedy, grief, or illness happen, and contentment isn’t even on the radar. If you’re there today, I’m so sorry. I pray the LORD would touch you with His comfort and speak directly to your broken heart. I don’t have answers for that, except for Paul’s statement in verse 13 – “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Somehow, someway, contentment in any and every situation is possible with Jesus Christ.
Whether life is perfect, or there’s much room for improvement, it’s possible to be content. According to Paul, there’s a secret to it, and that secret is Jesus. We can be content through Him, knowing He has us in this place at this time for a reason. Embracing where you are right here, right now, is a way to trust God and allow Him to develop contentment within you.
So how do you embrace your now? How do you be happy in a season that may or may not feel good?
The first step is prayer. Asking God for His help is truly the best way to start every new thing – and every new day. He is our Helper. He is our miracle worker. He is our Guide. Asking Him for help to navigate the challenges of our day – and life – and to live content is key.
A good next step is working to develop a thankful heart.
There are always ways life could be better, but what’s going right? Happiness generally follows a thankful heart. So, what are your blessings? Do you have food to eat? Clean water to drink? Shelter over your head? Family and friends who love you? Do you have a job? A car? Is there beauty around you? Have you heard the Good News of Jesus? You may not be where you want to be, but can you look back over the past couple of years and see growth?
Since we got married, my husband and I have moved numerous times. We’ve lived in literally the smallest apartment you can imagine (45 sq ft – yes, seriously!) and a 5,000 sq ft home, and many before and since. We’ve traveled extensively, moved cross-country several times, had plenty and had nothing, thought we couldn’t have children and then had children, had great jobs and bad jobs – and have learned through it all to be content where we are. In every season, we have known Jesus is trustworthy. We could trust Him with where we were and the outcome. In every season, we had Hope in Him, and that was enough to be able to be content in the now. In every season there have been things to be thankful for, and through being thankful for what we had, by focusing on the best parts of our life, a space for contentment and happiness was created. Thankfulness truly is key in both contentment and happiness. Perhaps that’s why it says in 1 Thessalonians to be thankful in all things.
Contentment isn’t achieved through a perfect life. Contentment is being present and happy where you are right now, acknowledging and being at peace with where God has you, and trusting Him with your past, your present, and your future.
Contentment isn’t about having everything you’ve ever wanted. Contentment is wanting what you have. Contentment is enjoying your present moment.
You have today. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Don’t waste your life waiting for something different, when God wants to use your today for good! There is always hope in Jesus, always something to be thankful for, always a better quality of life when you have a content heart.
If you don’t feel content today, sweet friend, ask God for His help. We can do all things through Christ. Then begin to speak aloud what you’re thankful for. Find something around you to smile about, and keep looking for those reasons to smile and being thankful until contentment resides in your heart.
To read more about making choices that lead to happiness, click here.
This is the seventh blog in an eight week series on happiness. To make sure you don’t miss the last one, sign up for my newsletter!