"While we pursue happiness we flee from contentment." - Hasidic Proverb
Are you guilty of fleeing from contentment? Find ways to be content today, with what you have!
What do Your Dreams Say About You?
In looking at your bucket list, you may notice some common themes. Do you love a certain hobby? Want to spend more time reading? Do you want to learn something new? Your list may also give you some insight into what is currently lacking in your life. If 50% of your list is comprised places you want to travel, it might be time for a vacation.
What Do You Really Want?
Your dreams can provide some valuable personal insight. With each the top 25 items on your bucket list, ask yourself these questions:
- Why do you want it?
- What will it provide for you?
- Is this something that society says is important, or one that you personally value?
- Is it consistent with your values and family mission statement?
- Would you want this if nobody saw or heard about it?
- Do any of your goals contradict each other?
Finding Contentment Today
Let’s analyze the traveling example again. What do you get out of traveling? Is it a break from routine? Is it uninterrupted time with your family? Or, do you like to experience new cultures? Is there any way you can replicate those feelings without leaving your city (or even your home)?
Analyzing why you want these things will help you find contentment in the here and now. If traveling gives you time with your family where you’re unburdened by the demands of daily life, you may be able to replicate that simply by getting a hotel room in a nearby city vs. going on an expensive vacation. If you’re into new cultures and experiences, simply going to more ethnic eateries in your own town can help satisfy those cravings. If it’s your dream to write a book one day, start by keeping a journal. Doing some of the little things today that provide you with what you’re really searching for can help you peacefully pursue your dreams.
In her book Quantum Success, Sandra Anne Taylor defines the Law of Paradoxical Intent:
“The Law of Paradoxical Intent points out the underlying paradox of personal achievement: You can get what you want by knowing that you don’t need it to be happy! It forces you to shift your focus from a desperate intention to a peaceful pursuit. Never send out energy that you’re willing to wait to be happy – just that you’re willing to wait for the goal. Needing a particular achievement before you can live with peace and joy creates a desperate energy that’s absolute poison to the resonance of success, so be clear about your intentions and fearless in your motivations. Pursue your goals because you want them to enhance an already happy life, not because you’ll be miserable without them.”
Assignment: With the insight that you've gathered, think of ways to get what you want out of life today, without spending money or leaving your own town. Write down some of your ideas. I’ve included a .pdf worksheet HERE to make it easy for you to analyze your bucket list items.
Here is another great related read: The Secret to Happiness is to Stop Caring
"We Need to Stop Caring
That doesn’t mean we stop trying to achieve our goals or striving for personal growth. It just means that we no longer base our happiness on fleeting, semi-permanent things.
There are obviously some situations where not caring may have serious negative consequences (see paying your rent). Excessive caring, however, is likely to make you miserable.
The reason caring too much can be detrimental to your health, is you’re so focused on the future. Your identity is too attached to outcomes. If something does, or doesn’t go your way, it will likely have an enduring effect on your mood for the rest of the day.
Instead, we should base our happiness on permanent things. Things that don’t change. Desires that don’t shift from moment to moment. We choose to find our happiness in living. In life itself. In fact, we don’t even need to “find” happiness. We can be happiness."