15 Everyday Habits to Live a Life of Contentment

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“The best way to conquer self-doubt is to follow your dream and work your ‘bass’ off.” – CBS Sunday Morning speaking of musician Meghan Trainor

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #93

The highs in life that we each experience from landing the job we’ve been coveting for years, celebrating a hard-earned diploma, signing the papers on your first house, reveling in the magic of your wedding day, finally seeing with our own eyes a previously only dreamed about destination or holding your first published book in your hands are momentous occasions that are all the sweeter due to the persistent effort and investment extended to attain the dream.

The feelings of euphoria that are cultivated and experienced are hard to describe to those who are still in the midst of their unique journey; however, having had the opportunity to experience a few of these highs, upon reflection, the final destination wouldn’t have been as sweet if I did not sincerely want what I sought or enjoy the innumerable everydays that paved the way to the end result.

After all, we cannot publish a new book each day nor toast with our family and friends the nuptials being exchanged 365 days of the year. Such logistics we know subconsciously, but sometimes we seem to expect the same ecstatic wave of emotion each and every day of our lives. And if we don’t feel “happy” as compared to our happiest days, we get in our own way and become self-critical about the life we’re living. Such behavior may sound absurd to read, but with the self-help industry in the US raking in more than $10 billion dollars a year, clearly many of us assume we need to fix something. And this is not to say self-improvement is bad, but perhaps we should re-evaluate our expectations.

While setting, having and pursing goals is a worthwhile instrument to achieving a life of contentment, we are mistaken if we think success is measured by the big moments in our lives when such “highs” are felt upon reaching the pinnacle. Rather success is how we live each day. Success is determined by our everyday approaches to living because we will have far more everydays than we will of the desired end goal celebrations. And if we live the former well, we are cultivating a rich and rewarding life for ourselves.

Today I’d like to share with you the daily habits to practice and instill in your everyday life that will ensure a life full of contentment.

1.Having doubt is okay

Psychologists have pointed out that the presence of self-doubt, a cousin of fear, is a natural, healthy human emotion. To not have doubt is to not care, to not be invested. Much like the quote above, doubt can be used much like a compass, pointing you in the direction of your desires and passions.

2. Be in pursuit of passion that gives you purpose

Upon discovering our deeper nature, we discover our strengths, and those strengths will help to lead us each to our purpose. It is the marriage of pleasure and purpose that enables us to get lost in the everyday work because we are in love with what we are doing that will heighten the everyday and lead to the culmination of reaching our goal.

3. Tend to your health

In order to tend to our health, we must know what having good health requires. In other words, understand how our body works, what it needs and how we can fuel it and care for it properly. Reading How Not to Die, a wealthy resource cataloging every illness, ailment and question you might have about how to reduce the chance of acquiring any particular cancer, eliminating the risk of heart disease and so much more, one can quickly determine what to eat, how much to exercise and how it all plays a helping hand in improving your overall health.

4. Nurture cherished relationships

The importance of a healthy social network is crucial for enjoying the everydays and weathering the unexpected bumps along the way. The network is multi-faceted as it begins with the relationship we have with ourselves (which will be talked about in #5), but nurturing our friendships and romantic partnership with little thoughtful gestures, how we speak, what we say and how we prioritize and celebrate throughout the year adds up to a strong web of love and support.

5. Take care of you

Perhaps #5 should have preceded #4 because much like the oxygen mask analogy, we must take care of ourselves, listen to what we need and heed our mind and body’s request before we can give of our time and selves to others we love. As much as routines are helpful, sometimes we need a break or a day to rejuvenate at a time when we could not have predicted or planned for it. We need to listen to these callings and grant ourselves the time to step back without wandering into the dark druthers of guilt.

6. Quality thoughts

Much like a well-kept home, too many chairs, too many clothes, too many anything can lead to clutter and thus leave us with a home that is no longer a sanctuary but rather a hazard to our peace of mind. We must eliminate the trash, we must condense the unnecessary that is not beneficial and we must curate a home that feeds us well, restores us and returns us to our best selves. The same is true for our mind. We must toss the trash immediately; we must not gobble up more and more worries and thoughts that will hold us back, but instead be selective and particular about what we choose to think about and engage in. When we become the master or our minds, much like becoming the master of our domaine, we establish a solid platform, a foundation if you will, that will allow us to springboard successfully wherever we wish to go.

7. Give. How you can and when you can.

Altruism and generosity without the expectation of something in return is a magnificent act to practice. The key is to know your boundaries and limitations. Whether dealing with money, time or energy, give what you can, when you can to the point where you are still able to live your life well.

8. Sleep well

A key component to healthy living, experiencing a deep, full sleep each night is crucial to overall everyday contentment. As discussed last year, creating an evening ritual that indicates to your mind that you are unwinding is a wonderful way to look forward to going to sleep at what may seem like a bit too early hour, especially if you have to get up early most mornings. And the benefits are many.

9. Spend time with nature

One of the most significant improvements to my everyday life upon moving to Bend has been the daily engagement with the outdoors. What I have realized was that subconsciously the outdoors was my elixir to a mind that would sometimes travel down the rabbit hole to odd, negative places. However, knowing I have the release or the escape to breathe in fresh air, feel the elements on my face (be sure to wear sunscreen!) and be completely present eradicates these negative mind-wanderings.

10. Understand new things will be hard initially, but it will get easier with time

Choose to try new things and be firm with yourself to stick with it as it will be hard initially. So long as you truly want something or to learn something — a new language, a new skill, an improved social life, a better job, increased savings in your retirement account — don’t let the first stage of struggle deter you. It will pass, so long as you don’t stop trying.

11. Lean into your feelings

I mentioned a few weeks ago in the weekly newsletter sent out to subscribers that one tool I have begun to utilize and see great benefit from was leaning in and examining my emotions, especially those emotions that made me uncomfortable. What do I mean by examining? Simply taking out your journal and in the moment, labeling specifically the emotion you are feeling and why you are feeling it. You don’t have to provide a solution, you don’t have to give it value, in fact you shouldn’t, but instead come to understand yourself better. Sometimes we really don’t know why we’re feeling a certain way because we’re afraid to look at it square in the face. What I have found is that by doing this, I can then move through the emotion and it doesn’t slow me down or hold as much power as it did previously. It’s very much like the Wizard of Oz. Once you look behind the curtain, you realize it was more illusion than reality.

12. Follow the teachings of Miquel Ruiz in The Four Agreements

Three years ago in a post titled How to Set Yourself Free, I examined the four agreements that are ubiquitously discussed and thankfully shared by now best-selling author Miquel Ruiz. Each day we have so much power over the quality of our day based on the choices we make. And by simply (1) doing our best (2) being impeccable with our word (3) not making assumptions and (4) not taking anything personally the tone we set for our day, the thoughts we allow to build in our minds, the relationships we cultivate as well as the progress we make toward our desired goals will be greatly improved.

13. Compete only with whom you were yesterday

Four years ago this post was written and last year I had the opportunity to share its message with my former students at the National Honors Society yearly induction ceremony. And while it is a lesson that is worthwhile for teenagers, it is an equally valuable reminder in our everyday lives no matter what our age. With the vast amount of reality television shows depicting grand lives and expenses as well as incessant competition with sports and competitions in the arts with award shows, it might seem to an outsider that winning is the ultimate feat to accomplish. When in reality, we will find peace for our everydays when we know we did or were a little bit better than we were yesterday. And guess who will be the judge of that? Only you.

Only you will know. There will not be a roaring crowd standing in ovation when you limit your negative thinking or skyrocketing ratings when the comments you share with others are positive and insightful rather than negative and critical. No one will know but you and that is why you must find peace with who you are. You must become self-actualized, and that will be a tremendous success that you can revel in and practice each and every day.

14. Remain curious

The curiosity you have within you is in many ways the mentor trying to lead you along a path that will excite not only your mind but your inner being. It will lead you to discover your deeper nature if you have not already tapped into it. The key is to not let your curiosity be squelched because it may at times not make sense to those around you or the community you live in. Who cares? So long as you aren’t harming anyone or anything, you can only be helping yourself and potentially others with what you discover. Have fun. Be a kid again and lose all track of time.

15. Invest in a way of life rather than things

Yes, we need a roof over our heads. Yes, we need plates and dishes to put the food on that we eat each day and yes, we need clothes and shoes. But . . . but, much like the exhilarating high that is experienced once in a great while with life’s grand moments that we strive for after sometimes years of dedication, the shine and newness of the new pair of Manolos will wear off as well. The key is to know why you are buying what you are buying. Is there a function, is there a purpose? The purchases that are thoughtfully planned and considered will not leave you with regret but instead a happy everyday life because the budget will stay on track, your life will be more enjoyable and it will enhance the overall quality of your life.

A bouquet of flowers to begin the week. Go for it if it’s in your budget. Another beautiful vase that will sit on the shelf and rarely be used. Perhaps just appreciate its beauty and move on. Your decisions of what to buy and what to walk past will be unique to you, but try to be as honest with yourself as possible. Why am I buying this? A quick pick-me-up because I don’t want to do the homework of becoming self-actualized? Or do I need these new pair of Nikes so that I can get outside and enjoy the beauty just outside my front door? You know the answer. Be honest with yourself.

Annie Dillard reminds us in her book The Writing Life“How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives.” Living a simply luxurious life is all about the everyday approach to life, and while we can work our tails off for the goals we seek, if we aren’t enjoying the journey, we need to adjust something. I will admit honestly, I have been trying to figure the HOW of that particular question all of my late teen and adult life, and what I unearth is shared with you here on TSLL blog and podcast. I adore the everydays that life offers us each time we rise in the morning. I also know that each day will not be glorious and memorable as we seem to expect them to be because that is what the media reveals to keep us intrigued. But what if it could be? What if it’s all about how we choose to live the everydays and what our expectations are?

If my experience so far as taught me anything, it is my assumptions of “what should be” that have lead me astray. Back to the discussion of doubt. We must have a mastery of the uncomfortable emotions to master life itself. And the funny thing with labeling emotions, sometimes we misunderstand what life is trying to reveal to us. Follow your doubts, dive deep, and perhaps your doubts are telling you what is worth pursuing. And if that is the case, you are traveling down the right road. Keep rolling on.

 

~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~5 Ways to Live an Examined Life (podcast)

~Why Not . . . Become Self-Actualized? (podcast)

~The French Way: How to Create a Luxurious Everyday Life (podcast)

~How to Master Your Mind (podcast)

Petit Plaisir:

~Round Woven Serving Tray

woventray

~left photo from @thesimplyluxuriouslife on Instagram (tray from Rejuvenation), tray on the right is from Houzz, shop here~

~More Trays to Shop:

Image: (1)

 


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Comments

  1. This brought me back to the last page of Fate and Furies (Lauren Groff), when the female protagonist is at the end of her days, reminiscing. “”It’s true: more than the highlights, the bright events, it was in the small and the daily where she’d found life.”

  2. Shannon, this podcast may be my favorite from you yet! It felt like you were talking directly to me. I’m right at the beginning of a very exciting life change and you brought up every single point that has been running through my mind leading up to it. It’s such an encouragement to know I’m not the only one who sees life this way.

  3. Wow! What a deeply thoughtful, well-put post this is. Especially liked #14 and #15. Thank you for this. I’m filing this post away for future reference. Well done!!!

  4. Shannon, what a well written post! I have discovered some of the same things you’ve mentioned as time has gone on and I have to say that I’ve been struggling with the expectations of ‘how things are supposed to be’. I find with social media and just media in general, we have access to so many ways that look like the ‘right way’ to live. It’s easy to get caught up in the comparison game and forget what your own purpose is sometimes or why you started something or why you choose to live a certain way. It may sound silly but even confident women who know what they want out of life can go down this rabbit hole. I loved the idea you shared about journaling emotions. I’ll have to try it out!

  5. Deborah says:

    I completely agree! Thank you for the time, thought and energy you invest in your blog / podcast and, by extension, your readers.

  6. Sharon McEvoy says:

    Thank you.

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