Chasing contentment: Learning how to love life just as it is
FARGO — "Contentment" isn't in our vocabulary. As millennials, we're not even really sure what it means ... at the surface, it's hard to define. How do you describe something so uniquely personal? How can it be explained?
While some might equate it with safety, security or comfort, others envision it as just "being."
But both definitions seem inadequate and intangible for we millennials who — thanks to social media — are constantly forced outside the present moment. Looking at trending tweets, peers' timelines and beautiful Instagram snapshots, we're encouraged to dream about where we should be, what we should be doing and who we should be with — all of which have no tie to "now."
We're told the key to life is happiness, but we continue searching for what exactly unlocks that door. We tell ourselves, "I'll be happy when I'm married," or " as soon as I lose weight," or "just after that next promotion."
We swear we'll be content as soon as we achieve those goals within reach. What no one tells us is there's no end to those wish lists and nothing to mark when we've reached that summit.
When we set our sights on the top of that snow-covered mountain, it's easy to trip and stumble on the twigs below our feet. Eventually, we become weary of waking up each morning, immediately struck by the notion that we should be anywhere else. We forgot that not loving every facet of our lives didn't mean we should hate it all.
In reflecting, we realize there's no one else to blame for our discontentment. We removed the very word from our creatively-curated lexicon before first taking time to grasp the concept.
Being content isn't being stuck. It isn't complacency or a lack of motivation. Being content doesn't rid us of our dreams, or even the desire to chase them. It's just a scary word that's synonymous with so many other great words.
Contentment can be affording a hot meal, taking yet another breath and finding solace in the silence. It comes from having a place to call home — whatever that may look like — or recognizing the unexpected moments of joy. If we look hard enough, we can always find a place of contentment. We just need to silence our minds for a moment to do so.
Contentment is a state of peaceful happiness — the art of being satisfied with each day we are given. After all, there's no guarantee for 30-something, next year or even next week.
For us 20-somethings, being content may be a learned skill but also one we need to prioritize, before we wish our lives away.