By Lynn Owens
I’m 35 years old and my life is not what I thought it would be. I had plans of getting married, buying a home, having children and none of those things have happened. Most of my friends are already married and have children. What’s wrong with me?
Frustrated and Discouraged
I talk with lots of women who are in your position, wanting what they don’t have and feeling like they failed because of it. While it’s true that you and don’t have some of the things you want, it’s also most likely true that you do have quite a few good things in your life. As humans we tend to focus more on what we want and don’t have rather than experiencing and expressing gratitude for what we do have. While you shouldn’t give up on your dream of being married and having a family, you would greatly improve the peace and joy in your life by learning to love and appreciate the season of life that you are currently in.
No matter where we are in life, learning to be content is a fundamental part of our spiritual and emotional health. Our joy and contentment is not based on individual circumstances themselves, but how we choose to live in the circumstances. Learning to be content means that we are satisfied with our lives so much that we are not disturbed or disquieted. It doesn’t mean we can’t desire more or better, it just means we’re willing to wait and while we’re waiting, we thank God for his innumerable blessings and we enjoy the season we’re in.
“Being ‘contented’ ought to mean being pleased. Being content with an attic ought not to mean being unable to move from it and resigned to living in it; it ought to mean appreciating all there is in such a position.”– Gilbert K. Chesterton
10 Tips for Learning to be Content
- Saturate yourself in meaningful experiences. (Find a hobby, take a class through the Parks & Recreation department, join a local club or group, travel, go on a mission trip)
- Acknowledge that feelings aren’t facts. (Feeling discouraged or frustrated doesn’t mean that you’re failing at life)
- Don’t expect a relationship to fix your life. (Other people can’t make your life good. That’s your responsibility)
- Appreciate the small things (a walk in the park, a sunny day, coffee with a friend).
- Help others (be sure it’s helping and not enabling-volunteering at a school, church, community center, hospital, nursing home or animal shelter is a great way to help others)
- Set goals and put them in writing. (Being content doesn’t mean you don’t need to make changes).
- Approach each day as an opportunity to grow, learn, and discover.
- Write a daily gratitude list. (My usually begins with “God, I thank you for…”)
- Limit your time on social media. (If you ever want to feel bad about your life, social media is the place to go.)
- Remember how far you’ve come. (Acknowledge how you’ve grown, the progress you’ve made and the really tough times God has carried you through.)
Lynn Owens is a Licensed Professional Counselor with Made to Thrive Counseling, PLLC