By Deanna Murphy, MA, LPCC
Feeling overloaded, burdened and stretched too thin seems commonplace especially as the temperatures drop and the holiday season is upon us. But, is it possible to really experience contentment even amid the pace, demands, joys and pain of life? It is possible!
Consider these four tips:
- Stop comparing your life. Comparing your life to the life of others doesn’t end well. It will, however, lead to dissatisfaction. Comparing your life to the life you want or dream about doesn’t end well either. It will likely lead to disappointment. It’s important to recognize that some circumstances in life are unchangeable and they are different for each person.
- Start embracing your life. Act on who you are rather than who you think you should be. I meet with many individuals in the therapy context who battle the stress of what they “should” be thinking, feeling and doing. Many times these “shoulds” are not in line with what is feasible, with what makes sense for the situation, nor with the individual’s design. Embracing your life begins with knowing your identity, your strengths and weaknesses, and your chosen responsibilities and passions.
- Cultivate rest in life. Consider how you make time for rest each day in shorter bursts and how to have some lengthened time of rest each week as well. Daily rhythms of rest might include walking (buy some warm clothing!), a quick nap after work, slowing your pace for book reading with young children, watching a favorite show, getting to bed on time. Weekly rhythms of rest might include attending church, having a designated family movie or game night, a Saturday morning coffee with a good friend, or Sunday afternoon naps.
- Create space for life. It’s difficult to maintain a posture of contentment when our lives are crowded out by our stuff and our commitments. To create space, it’s important to reduce clutter and remove commitments. It’s really difficult to experience contentment when we are over full. Think Thanksgiving and the top button of your pants. Pie tastes much better if we have room in our stomachs! Clutter can include physical clutter like keeping things we don’t need. It can also include the clutter of bad habits like gossip, online shopping, and Netflix bingeing. Addressing our commitments can also help us live more content lives. Think about your regular commitments and then consider holiday commitments or expectations. We may need to de-clutter our homes and our calendars of even some good things to create space. (And, if we can get out of the comparison trap, we will find it easier to let go of some possessions and involvements.)
Deanna Murphy, MA, LPCC works at Stellher Human Services as a mental health professional.
She enjoys working with children, teens, adults, and families who are facing various life challenges and are seeking help in navigating them in a healthy way. She grew up in Northern Minnesota and lives in Bemidji with her husband and their two daughters.