Periods of unhappiness and stress, and the feeling of unfairness occur in our lives all the time – for some, they occur every day. Sometimes even multiple times a day. In the end, it all comes down to contentment.
It’s easy, given the time we are in, to always want to be better, have more, do more – more times than not, all it takes is the simple flick of the TV to see those reality shows that promote discontentment – whether it’s with you or your older kids.
That same discontentment can come from Facebook too. It’s a great place for people to put the best part of their lives out there, to make others envious – or, to make others be drawn to the attractive parts and thus negative about the things they don’t have. Kids sometimes don’t know any better – especially if they are younger; but the older kids and adults should be able to identify it easily.
You graduate high school and you can’t wait for college – after all, after college you will make more money and be more happy, and be in a better place. But once you graduate college, you find yourself saying that you can’t wait until you get a better job… so you can get your own place, and then, you will be happy. Eventually.. you get your own place, and then you make the statement that you can’t wait until you find someone, start a family — after all, the house you have is empty. You can’t be truly happy without someone to share it with. Right?
Once that happens you find yourself doing that for almost every aspect of life – you won’t be happy until you get a newer car – after all, the one you have is causing stress and worry and isn’t as reliable as you want. Once you get a car you find yourself looking for that next “best thing”.
If you have ever felt like that then you have a problem with being content. Unfortunately, by jumping to the next best thing, your contentment never really shows up.
So how do you win over that feeling of discontentment and turn that train back into something that allows you or your kids to look for the positive?
Learn how to Look Long Term
People who are content understand the power of time and compound interest – they put money away for the future – including retirement and college funds. They don’t see the need to waste money on stuff.
Instead, they patiently invest their money, and are satisfied with not seeing that money for a long term period (sometimes over ten years). Note: This does take some discipline.. but anyone who is successfully wealthy will also tell you that this patience and discipline is worth every penny.
Learn How to Make Sacrifices
The best way to save is to avoid spending. But don’t be fooled: you can avoid spending but yet still not be a saver. Unless you make the move to put that money saved in a vehicle then you are not going to get anywhere.
The best way to become successful, pay off your debt, and start investing long term is to stop using your debt as a tool. When payments eat up your income, it’s incredibly hard to save.
By learning how to wait for things you want, you also realize the importance of paying for things you can only actually afford. You learn how to sacrifice for the short term so your long term can be amazing. Sure, that means giving up the vacation this year, but in 3-4 years that vacation will be even more amazing when you can afford to go.
Learn how to Give
We all tend to focus so much on ourselves- when in fact your life is more about caring and giving to others. Only when you realize the power of being intentional about what you have, even if it’s not as much as you want, you will find real contentment.
Contentment can have such a profound impact on your life – not just your financial well being but also on you emotionally. Don’t fall into the trap that being wealthy or successful is evil or bad – some of the most wealthy people are also the most humble, giving people you will meet.
Instead of trying to feel like the world is in favor of the rich and society is working against you, learn how to make the changes necessary so that you, too, can be prosperous – after all, it all starts with a mental shift.
It’s definitely a challenge – a daily challenge at that.
We recently had to visit the dealership in Mesa for parts for our used Yukon. As we pulled in, my husband let out a HUGE sigh “just wait. They’ll attack in less than 30 seconds.”
And he was right. It wasn’t even that long before a salesman was standing next to him as he got out of the truck. But alas, my husband was ready. “Hi there Sir. Looking to buy a new car? How about a minivan for all those kids?” My husband replied “nope, we’re covered, but thanks.”
The salesman said “Tell me about your truck – is it a 2004? 2002? It probably has some miles on it. Not ready for a new truck or just don’t have the money right now? It’s ok – we have financing.. we can cover you!” My husband said “Money isn’t the issue. We just don’t need one .. this works great. Plus – can’t beat paid – right?”
The salesman looked confused… “well, you are right on that. But who doesn’t prefer a new vehicle?”
In the end, we could have been swallowed into a new payment, but we were both content. We’re content with where we are, the fact that we have periodic maintenance, and the flashy stickers of new vehicles aren’t really a temptation – despite having 5 kids we have learned to say no to the things that very easily could put us back into the cycle of debt.
Is it easy? Definitely not. Is it popular? Far from – but I think in the end, both of us have found that contentment is far beyond the stuff you have.