Last week I read an article on FaceBook about a “mediocre life.” The author suggested that a mediocre life is better than the fast track, busy, busy, ever climbing life of trying to keep up with, and control, others. He stated that it was better to just “Be.” And I totally agree with him except that if you manage to find a way to contentment then I find that to be a superior life. This was discussed on fb some but it set me to thinking about the contented life.
A contented life should not be labeled as mediocre or superior because that is a comparison to others and the contented life is one which lives without comparison to others. One saying is that comparison robs us of our joy. And it does. Contentment infers that we are not labeling nor or we comparing. We are just busy enjoying what we enjoy and don’t have to look to others for that.
I find comparisons tedious and cumbersome. Often the kids have come home and said, “so and so said this about us (me) today.” My standard answer to that kind of kid cruelty is to ask my child, “Do you think this about yourself?” Usually they say “No.” I then tell them not to worry about what others say and next time look them in the eye and say, “Thank you” and walk off.
I don’t know if this is the way to contentment or not but I do know that comparisons are definitely the road to dis-contentment. As I thought through the fb article and the responses I tried to think about the different things/circumstances that could be cobbled together for a content life. Of course, everyone is unique so every person will have a different idea of what contentment is.
Here are a few things that I hold dear in my contentment cabinet.
Everyone needs at least one good quilt. Hopefully, it is from someone who loves you or your family. Quilts hold memories of earlier times in one’s life. One of my favorite quilts is an old double knit quilt my mom, sister, and I made when I went off to college. It is not fancy and the fabric is totally from another generation. But when I look at it, I remember my oldest sister teaching me how to tie the bright yellow yarn into double knots along rows and my mom insisting that we make my roommate one to match. I can still pick out many of the pieces and know exactly which outfit was made from that fabric. I still have that old quilt and we still use it. Maybe we need to rethink polyester knit fabrics for quilting purposes!
Everyone needs at least one good friend. Someone you can call up on a Saturday afternoon and talk for 3 hours and 58 minutes and feel as if it has only been a half hour. One good friend to share joys and troubles. One good friend who “gets” you without explanation. If you have two or three really good friends then you are truly blessed because one is all it takes.
Everyone needs at least one good passion. A passion for something. A passion that allows you to serve others. A passion that enriches your life and gives your life meaning. It might be your work. It might be a hobby. It might be church related. It might be outdoors or it might be indoors behind a sewing machine cranking out quilts. Whatever it is, go for it, invest in it, allow yourself to be passionate and exciting.
Everyone needs to believe in themselves. We need to quit listening to others’ innuendos and smirks. We need to quit comparing to others and take note of the many times a day we make someone smile. Remember when you helped your neighbor by mowing and when you volunteered to let all of the teens from church ride in your large vehicle. Remember that you shape and mold other lives even if you do laundry for most of the day. Yes, we all mess up but not 24/7. Believe that you make a difference. One kindness is all it takes.
We all need family. Yes, they are complex and irritating and sometimes downright embarrassing, but we all need family. From the moment we are born, family is our connection to the world. We need those connections to others who remember us as we were, who cheered us on as we struggled, and who validate us now. Birth families or chosen families – it doesn’t matter – we need families. We need to know how to love and respect others and it all begins with family.
I apologize to all the dog lovers out there, but I think we all need a cat to be content. Cats are independent and great hunters. They are so chill and don’t dig in the garden except to fertilize it. They are soft and they puuuurrrrrr.
As I age I find that contentment is so much easier than trying to control everything. I may be “mediocre” but I am loving every minute of it.