My mind was swarming with negative thoughts as we drove to church a few weeks ago. I wish I had more time to get things done. I wish my infant would nap for longer stretches. I wish my husband would help out a little more around the house. Though these thoughts were about different things, they were all rooted in discontent.
Like many of you, I have gratitude on my mind because we are so close to Thanksgiving. As I thought about gratitude and discontentedness during the service, I realized how slyly discontentedness sneaks into our lives and how it is often what keeps us from feeling grateful.
This realization started me on a mission to nip discontentedness in the bud. I don’t want this seemingly innocuous feeling to keep me from living the rich, gratitude-filled life to which God has called us (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Here’s what I’m doing to put an end to discontentedness so gratitude can bloom in my life.
How I’m nipping discontentedness in the bud
- Serving others. Whether it’s serving with my time, skills, or money, I find I am more content when I serve. This is in part due to the fact that serving helps me see who God made me to be and what He gave me to offer others. It’s also because it helps me take my eyes off of myself and focus on the people around me.
- Praying and reading the Bible. A lot of times I don’t even realize when I’m feeling discontent—it happens often enough that it just doesn’t stand out to me. Encountering God through prayer and Bible reading helps me become more sensitive to my areas of weakness. Consequently, it is critical that I make time in my day for these activities so I’m able to quickly recognize feelings of discontent and take actions to eliminate them.
- Fostering gratitude. Thinking about the many things for which I am grateful helps me remember that I am too blessed to be discontent. I’m finding it is best to be intentional about being grateful. These approaches to cultivating thankfulness and these gratitude activities have been very helpful!
- Discouraging complaining among my friends. We often express our discontentedness through complaining. More often than not, this complaining is a social activity (e.g., we sit around with friends complaining about whatever it is that is bothering us, we post our gripes on social media). I’m trying to avoid joining in this complaining so I don’t perpetuate it. Also, I’m trying to gently encourage gratitude by pointing out the good in situations when my friends complain.
- Putting the “perfect” things I see in the lives of others in perspective. There’s nothing like a glance at Facebook or a conversation with friends to get me feeling discontent. After seeing beautiful family portraits, photos of amazing crafts, and hearing about a friend’s brand new vehicle, I often start feeling discontent about my family photos, my craft skills, and my car. It helps me to put these things into perspective. The quality of our portraits isn’t as important as the quality of our family. How much ability I have (related to crafts or anything else) isn’t as important as how I use it. New vehicles come with hefty price tags and sticking with my older car helps us move towards our goal of debt-free living.
- Enjoying the present moment. I realized some time ago that I tend to be more content when I enjoy the present moment instead of being preoccupied with what happened recently or what is happening next. Whether I’m enjoying the rich cup of coffee in my hands or the sound of my daughters’ laughter, I don’t have time to feel discontent when I’m enjoying the wonderful things I have.
Do you ever find yourself feeling discontent? What things do you do to replace these feelings with contentment and gratitude?
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