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Another Word about Contentment

Another Word about Contentment

Harold Duncan 2014 SM“Discontent” is the sense that something is wrong–with me–something is missing. And we can spend a great deal of our time, attention and energy searching for those missing pieces-often in the “wrong places.”

Max Lucado has written in, Traveling Light,

Come with me to the world’s most oppressive prison. The name of the prison? You’ll see it over the entrance. WANT! The prison of want. The prisoners want something bigger. Nicer. Faster. Thinner. They want just one thing. One new job. One new car. One new spouse. They want just one. And when they have “one,” they’ll be happy. But then it happens. The new car smell passes. The new job gets old. The new spouse has bad habits.

To illustrate the problem, have you ever been very thirsty and have someone tell you that a big bag of salty potato chips is exactly what you need to quench your thirst? Probably not. Such a “solution” is laughable and obviously ridiculous.

But the principle is the same when we feel really empty inside and we allow popular culture to tell us what we really need to fill that void, that emptiness. (See Lucado quote above)

When we believe what we are told, we create a two-fold problem. Not only do the “potato chips” fail to quench our thirst, they make us even thirstier than we were to begin with. Our problem is not solved, it is exacerbated.

I have done private practice counseling for more than 30 years. Like all counselors, I see a great deal of woundedness and emptiness in the people who seek my professional services.

Many people are miserable in their lives and in their relationships. But pay attention to this: many of them also are wealthy, attractive, well known, and sexy. They drive expensive cars. They live exciting lives, and they dress beautifully.

And they are still miserable.

One very practical and important thing we can do to put and keep our lives in proper perspective involves a very simple exercise. Instead of dwelling on the things we do not have, we can train ourselves to concentrate on (and be thankful for) what we do have.

This can be done in several ways, but I frequently suggest to my clients that they keep a “gratitude diary.” The principle is very simple: on a daily basis, write a brief list of things, people, and circumstances in your life for which you are truly thankful. What are some of the most important blessings in your life? Who are some of the most important people in your life? List some of the most vital lessons you have learned over the years, often, as a result of some very painful events in life. Make daily entries into this journal.

  • Remember, the message we hear from so much of popular culture is in order to be really happy, we must have certain “things:” wealth, youth, beauty, fame, and lots of “stuff.”
  • Remember, this message is a lie!
  • Remember, popular culture is not our problem. Our problem is, we believe the lies of popular culture, and when we do, everything begins to unravel and come apart. We lose our spiritual and our emotional bearings. Our priorities become seriously and dangerously misplaced. Confusion reigns, and we are consistently discontent.
  • Remember, there is a solution.

I want to remind you of a “Word” posted last Thanksgiving. It’s worth re-reading:


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