It’s been a weird few weeks.
I saw my coach 2 weeks ago and had nothing really to say…it was all good. When I saw her this week I was perplexed.
I seem to have lost my drive.
I’m really happy to come home and hang out with the family. I’m enjoying having time to see friends. I love being able to walk the dog or go for a swim. I’m having long hot baths, watching films and reading books.
I enjoy teaching A level psychology; I like the students and I love the subject, I’m really enjoying learning as I teach. I work enough to pay the bills and I still manage to be at the school gates and football matches with the boys.
There is nothing more that I want.
But I was feeling bad about it. There are things I want to do but I’m not doing.
I’m half way through the next book on how to make a positive new beginning out of a bereavement, separation or divorce; the course is ready to go, I just need to finish the book. I also need to find people or ways to help me market the courses that are already on the web site; the Love Being Me audio course has been up there and ready to go for a month now and no one is finding it because I’m not telling people about it.
My coach laughed when I told her I was worried that I’d lost my push to achieve, my desire to change things, my need to be on to the new challenge.
After pointing out that things ebb and flow, she also suggested that I might be content.
This is not a word I have associated with myself before. It is something that I have sought,but I haven’t really known what I am looking for. It is not something I have been aware of experiencing before ..which is why it feels so weird, I feel like I’m on new territory without a map.
All my life I’ve been traveling, learning, achieving, organising and initiating. These are active verbs…doings.
Now I am just content.
I’ve been thinking about the word ‘content’.
As well as meaning ‘satisfied’ we also talk about the content of a book or shopping trolley. Which got me thinking that maybe feeling ‘content’ is to do with the content of my life.
Then I asked myself what I meant by ‘the content of my life’. My answer was:
- The things that I do
- The people that I spend time with
- How I feel emotionally and physically
- How I think
- What I have
When I look at that list I can see that actually the content of all those aspects of my life are satisfying.
- I do work that I like, I swim, I walk, I visit people and places
- I spend time with people love, people who are kind, people who care and people who inspire me
- I’m getting better at allowing all my feelings to have their space. I’ve stopped telling myself I shouldn’t feel jealous or grumpy or sad..I accept the feeling and lean into to to see what it tells me.
- I’m learning about new things, I have time and space to think things through and I catch myself having self-destructive thought patterns and not engaging in them
- I have what I need and so do the kids (although clearly there can never be enough Match Attack cards in a boy’s life)
So what does the content of your life look like?
- What do you spend your time doing? How much of it pleases you? How can you add in more that pleases you?
- Who do you spend your time with? Do you come away feeling cared for and energised? Are you seeing enough of the people you care about?
- How do you feel in body and emotion? What can you change so that you feel even better? What can you accept without change? What can you appreciate?
- How do you think about yourself, others, your future and the world? How can you change your thinking to make yourself happier?
- What do you have in your life that you appreciate? What are you grateful for?
I then thought more about the word ‘content‘ and thought that when we have content in a book or a shopping trolley…there is a container for the content. So you can’t have chicken soup as content without having the can to contain it.
So this got me to thinking that sometimes in the past I have tried to put too much content into my container; ie my life. I was off work with stress some years ago and one of the triggers was doing too much for one life. I was trying to be super mum to 2 young boys, and deliver workshops nationally and regionally and run a house.
Too much content to be content.
At other times I have not had enough content so my container has been half full. I started my PhD as a result of feeling ‘half full’. I was new the area so didn’t have many friends, I wasn’t getting enough intellectual input and I needed a challenge. I was bored and felt like cold porridge – solid and lumpy when there wasn’t enough content for my container. So I filled it up with a PhD.
At other times I have had the wrong kind of content in my container for me. I have filled life up with things I didn’t enjoy, people who I didn’t click with and habits that were not good for me. I had to empty out that container, to throw away lots of the content in order to make room for new content.
In the container of your life:
- Are you too full? If so, what can you leave out?
- Are you not full enough? If so, what would you like to add in?
- Are you full of the wrong stuff? In which case what do you want to get rid of or change?
Because I reckon that feeling content is when our container is filled to optimum level for us, with content that pleases us.
Or…expressed as an equation:
Contentment = optimum capacity+satisfying content.