What happened to being grateful for a few things? As soon as parents start a sentence with, "Well in our day....", our kids roll their eyes, groan and say, "Yes, well this is our day and I want the latest xxxxx." At what point can we say we are content? What does contentment look like? Can we be content while striving to reach our goals in life? Is contentment a choice? How can we teach our kids to be content?
What does 'being content' mean?
Contentment means ‘to be happy and satisfied with one’s situation’, or to ‘accept and be at peace with the way things are'. So simple, yet often very difficult to achieve, especially during hard economic times!
A contented person is peaceful and calm. They do not complain about what they haven't got, but rather, make the most of what they do have. They have a positive outlook on life and make the most of negative situations. Their security is based on being satisfied with whom they are rather than measure their 'worth' on what they possess.
Does being content mean that we can’t be competitive or strive to meet goals? No! There is nothing wrong with being driven to achieve. When we set short as well as long term goals with rewards for meeting each step, then we don't become dissatisfied with our lack of performance or progress. Our satisfaction comes from meeting each step. It is only when we compare ourselves and our possessions with others that we feel discontent.
Contentment is a choice.
It is having the ‘attitude of gratitude’. You choose to be happy, frustrated, angry or envious. When you
look at your friends you tend to be drawn to the ones who are content and will find yourself wishing
you could be like them.
The old hymn, “It is well with my soul”, has been buzzing through my mind today and I looked up
the story behind it. Horatio Spafford, a wealthy Chicago Lawyer, lost a son to Scarlet Fever, then
lost all his investment properties in the great Chicago fire. Distressed, he decided to take his wife
and four daughters to England for a break but, at the last minute, was unable to travel with them.
The boat went down sparing only his wife. He caught the next vessel to be with her and as they
passed the mark where his children had perished he wrote the words to that famous hymn. What a
truly amazing example of being content! He deliberately chose not to go to the depths of despair,
but to declare through the words of these lyrics, that his soul was at peace.
How do I teach my kids to be content?It is very difficult when the latest designer clothing, toys and gimmicks are being thrown at our kids
from wherever they look.
Here are some suggestions:
a) Simplify your own lifestyle by giving away or selling what you don’t really need. Encourage
your kids to do the same. There is a tremendous thrill in giving.
b) Give your kids a certain amount of pocket money and let them decide what to invest their
c) Cut down kids' TV viewing and encourage imaginary play using old boxes, sheets and by
making a play hut outside. Spend time with your kids doing things that don't cost money
e.g. going to the beach, taking a hike, playing, bicycling, going for a picnic or exploring.
d) Focus on blessing others rather than gathering more and more stuff at home. One idea is to
sponsor a child from a third world country to make your kids aware of how much a little
makes these children happy.
Contentment is an important family value to pursue. It promotes happiness and peace. It discourages fear, insecurity, constant striving and frustration. It’s worth spending the time and effort to experience the peace that comes with contentment.
Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC