I’ve been feeling pretty content lately. Something that I talked a little about here and here.
And because this feeling of overall contentment is somewhat new to me, I’ve been wondering where it’s coming from.
Superficially, I could say that it’s situational: New York is pretty awesome.
But I think it’s something deeper than that. I think a big piece of my contentment has to do with my level of autonomy.
I have more autonomy now then I have ever had at any other point in my life.
From what brand of toilet paper I buy to choosing to eat a cupcake for dinner to what meetings I take and what projects I work on to where I work on any given day, it’s all up to me. I am the architect of my life.
It makes total sense that this is influencing my level of contentment. Autonomy is one of the key factors in motivation and engagement. And I think one of the key factors influencing how content we feel.
When oppressive bosses and governments create environments void of autonomy, it should be no surprise that people eventually find some way to rebel.
A friend of mine once told me that he wasn’t striving to be happy, he was striving to be content.
And I think I have to agree with his approach. Striving to be happy all of the time puts a lot of pressure on us, and then we tend to focus on all of the moments when we’re not happy. And the truth is, we can’t exist in a constant state of joy and delight every minute of every day.
But I think we can strive to reach the point of being content. The point where we’re not always wishing we had someone else’s life or someone else’s stuff or someone else’s lawn.
This doesn’t mean settling and it doesn’t mean not pushing to make things better. But it means reaching a place where there is a consistent undercurrent of contentment flowing, no matter what your day is throwing at you.
Somehow, over the past few weeks I have found that place of peaceful contentment. It seems strange in a way, because on the usual list of what is supposed to make us content, I’m missing a few things: my sublet runs out on March 9 and I have no permanent place to stay after that, I have no consistent paycheck, I’m not in a relationship, I don’t own a house or a car, and I never seem to have enough time to get all of my work done.
That’s not an equation that most people would think adds up to being content. But I feel more content now then I did when I had all of those things.
Not only do I think I had been striving for the wrong thing, but I had bought into the false advertising of what I needed in order to get there.
Maybe that’s ok when when you’re caving into buying a ShamWow! for the low, low price of $9.95. But when it comes to my life, the false advertising is no longer going to have such an easy time winning me as a customer.