Finding Contentment in Everyday Life

Article by Dee DeWitt


We often rush through tasks, trying to get them done, trying to finish as much as we can each day.  We speed along in our cars to our next destination, rushing to do what we need to do.  Then we leave so we can speed to our next destination.


Unfortunately, it’s often not until we approach our final destination that we realize what madness this is.


At the end of most days we’re often exhausted and stressed out.  We don’t have time for what’s important to us, for what we really want to be doing, for spending time with loved ones, for doing things we’re passionate about.


It doesn’t have to be that way.  It’s possible to live a simpler life.  A life where you enjoy your activities.  A life where you are present in most things you do.  A life where you can be content rather than rushing just to finish things.


If this appeals to you, then take a look at some suggestions for living a more peaceful life: 


What’s important.  First, take a step back and think about what’s important to you.  What do you really want to be doing, who do you want to spend your time with, what do you want to accomplish with your work?  Make a short list of 4-5 things for your life, 4-5 people you want to spend time with, 4-5 things you’d like to accomplish at work.


Examine your commitments.  For each of us, a major challenge is that our lives are way too full.  We try to be everything to everyone.  Many of us (myself included) have a hard time saving “no.”   We can’t possibly do everything we have committed to doing, and we certainly can’t enjoy it if we’re trying to do everything.  Accept that you can’t do everything, know that you want to do what’s important to you, and try to eliminate the commitments that aren’t as important.


Do less each day.  Try not fill your day up with things to do.  If will fill up anyway.  You will end up rushing to do them all.  Try doing no more than three important things each day (with perhaps three more smaller items to do if you get those completed).  This will give you time to do what you need to do and not rush.


Leave space between tasks or appointments.  Another mistake is trying to schedule too many things back-to-back.  This leaves no cushion for meetings that run long, traffic jams on the way to an appointment, etc.  Things always take longer than planned.  If you don’t make space between tasks, you also run the risk of feeling rushed and stressed throughout the day.  Instead, allow a gap between appointments or tasks.  Allow yourself to focus more on each one, and have a transition time between them.


Eliminate as much as possible from your to-do list.  People rarely do everything on their to-do list. Even if you could, more things will come up … many with higher priority than what is on your list.  So try to simplify your to-do list.  Pare it down to the essentials.  This allows you to rush less and focus more on what’s important.


Slow down and enjoy tasks.  Whatever you are doing … whether it’s a work task or taking a shower or cooking dinner or driving to work … try to slow down.  Try to enjoy whatever you’re doing and pay more attention.  Be in the moment.  There are few things that can’t be enjoyable if you give it more attention.


Single-task.  Don’t multi-task all the time.  It adds stress and the things we do when multi-tasking are not usually done as well.  Do one thing at a time and do it well.


Create time for solitude and simple pleasures.  In addition to slowing down and enjoying the tasks we do, and doing less of them, it’s also important to just have some time to yourself.  Sometimes, just do nothing.  It’s good every now than then to forget about doing things and recharge.  Just as importantly, try to sprinkle simple pleasures throughout your day.   Each of us know what our simple pleasures are, and putting a few of them in each day can go a long way to making life more enjoyable.


In the spring of life, in the flower of youth,
Everything is bright and new.
In the summer of life,
Time of growth and change,
Each day brings new dreams to pursue.
In the autumn of life,
There’s a settling down -
Contentment and sureness in what we do.
In the winter of life,
Comes peace and wisdom,
Time to relax and reminisce, too…
But with the passing of these seasons,
Life is still not done, not through,
For there is yet another season,
When each spirit is renewed.
And it is in this calm fifth season,
In this hopeful second spring,
A time of cleansing and rebirth,
A time of new awakening.
Each person’s life will come full circle,
Even as the seasons do,
To start another, different life,
Much better than the one we knew.

-C.A. Schlea, The Fifth Season


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Posted on 13 July, 2009 in Happiness, Making the Day Count, Simplify
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