Desiring Contentment


Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?  –Mary Oliver


After the 4th of July, I feel a mix of sadness and urgency in the fact that summer is half over.  I can remember feeling this way, even as a little girl.  Feeling like my days of barefooted, sun kissed, sleeping in and staying up late days were numbered.  That I had to make them count:  There were stars to be gazed at!  Marshmallows to be roasted and fireflies to be caught!  Sights of Back to School sales would fill me with panic.

Sometimes the Carpe Diem mandate conjures up more anxiety than empowerment.  What if I’m not Seizing The Day to its fullest potential?  My soul’s cry is to live life abundantly, but it can quickly become this ambiguous standard to live up to, something that others around you seem to be doing, but somehow just out of reach for me.  Ironically, all of this angst over wanting to “embrace life” keeps me from doing just that!  Counting the days rather than making the days count, and all that….

So I’m in need of a mindshift.  The word that keeps coming up this week is contentment.

1. (adj.) mentally or emotionally satisfied with things as they are

2. (vb.) assenting to or willing to accept circumstances, a proposed course of action, etc

3.  (n) Peace of mind; mental or emotional satisfaction.”

I found this fascinating:  it is derived  from Old French, from Latin contentus  contented, that is, having restrained desires, from continēre  to restrain.

So, according to The World English Dictionary, being able to have peace of mind (i.e., security, rest, satisfaction) requires a proper relationship with desires.  Desires are a good thing, but when what you desire becomes your sole focus, the driving force behind all you do, inevitably you will feel unsettled, lacking, discontent.

Restraining desires feels counterintuitive when it comes to the pursuit of happiness, but what if it’s not?  What if, by bowing out of the endless chase, we find a deeper and more real joie d’vivre?

What do you desire?

A summer of living life to the fullest– full of summery adventures.

What does it look like to meld (or restrain) that desire with contentment?  

Slowing down and being fully present in the moment.  Holding each day with open palms and opening my eyes to gift of the familiar.  Choosing a heart of gratitude rather than fixating on what I’m “missing out on.”

Those two questions can be quite helpful for a number of things that I currently find myself desiring, and some great food for thought as I continue to live out this summer day.


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