Are you content? This question is more “in general” rather than a specific moment in time. More specifically, are you content with your relationships, health, finances, home, community, planet? If not, why not?
Perhaps you can rationalize your discontentment by pointing to others for your emotional state. There are likely associated stories that you repeatedly share, both to others and yourself, about the experiences that have led to the discontentment. Have you ever noticed how you feel as you repeat those stories? Probably lousy.
Each time you tell the story, you lock yourself into a state of discontentment which becomes a perpetual cycle. What if breaking that cycle was as simple as shifting your focus?
Where you place your focus, you direct your energy. If you are focusing on all that’s wrong, you get more of that energy. That is certainly no fun. Shifting your focus takes a commitment, yet it is as simple as two words:
Start by looking around you. Is there anything that is beautiful? It could be something as simple as the way the sunlight falls across the floor. As you train yourself to seek beauty, you will start to find it even in places and situations that aren’t necessarily beautiful.
After Tropical Storm Irene devastated the town of Pittsfield, the towns people coming together to help one another was beautiful. On this gray, dark day, the site of daffodils in bloom outside of my window is beautiful. As is my husbands smile as he walks past me.
This can even be true for the situations and people you pointed to earlier creating the discontentment. Would you be willing to seek the beauty in those people and situations? Perhaps you have a difficult boss or co-worker. What in the challenge has shaped you, made you stronger or more aware? I once had a boss who was so disingenuous that I found I became calmer, more loving, patient and compassionate. My bosses bad attitude made mine more beautiful.
The more you commit to seeking beauty, the less bandwidth you have to focus on what’s creating the discontentment. Seeking beauty also elevates your mood. The better you feel, the easier it is to seek beauty which makes you feel even better when you find it. A positive self-perpetuating cycle is created.
Here is a great way to get started. Commit to finding 3 beautiful things throughout your day. Write them down as you recognize them. At the end of the day, review your list. You may discover you found more than three. Also record how you feel when you find them and review your emotional state, too, at the end of the day.
After one week of this challenge, notice your overall emotional state. If you find that in general you are more content, challenge yourself to another week. Invite a friend to join you in the challenge. If you have children, make it a game that you all share about your three finds at dinner each night. See who can seek the most beauty in one day.
As your capacity to seek beauty strengthens, expand to goodness and love. Bryant McGill said, “Seek goodness and be goodness. Seek beauty and be beauty. Seek love and be love.” Imagine your content level if this was how you approached life daily. It is certainly worth a try.