246 Days Remaining
A while back, I had a long talk with a good friend of mine who was at a place in his life where he felt stalemated: he wasn't content where he was, and wasn't sure exactly what was wrong, why he was in a funk, or how he could change it. I wanted to help him in a practical way, other than just listening to him and being there for him, so I prayed for guidance and the ideas just began to flow.
In a series of text conversations, I developed a few ideas that evolved into what I am now calling "The Contentment Project". It's a practical way to help us all recognize just how good we have it, and also to help us get rid of the things that are holding us back. My friend took all the steps I suggested and worked through them on his own, and he said that they helped him a lot. I'd like to share The Contentment Project with you, and over the next few days, I am going to try it out myself as well, since I've never done it in practice. I'm not at a place of extreme discontent in my life right now, but I think it's always good to remind ourselves of these things.
LIST #1: What do you have NOW?
List five things that come to mind when you think of what you are most grateful for in your life right now. Don't take a lot of time to work through it, or feel the need to change your answers if you think of something better; usually the first things that come to your head are going to be the truest answers. (Of course, don't be afraid to change your list if you want; this is not an exact science, and no one is going to read it but you! I'm not looking over your shoulder.) These could be physical things like books; emotional things like crying at a great movie; or relationships with people, like your children or your spouse.
Make this list to remind yourself that there are great and wonderful things in your life that make you happy. After you've made the list, look at what you have written down and take some time to think about each item on the list, thoroughly and thoughtfully. Take the time to pull out a special memory that you have for each of those things, and reflect on them, giving each of them your full attention and respect and gratefulness for what they mean in your life.
LIST #2: What do you WANT?
List five things that you want in your life, whether these are goals that you want to accomplish, material things, or anything else that you long for. Often, we find ourselves thinking vaguely of things that we would like to have in our lives, but they are fleeting thoughts and we forget how much we want them until they pop into our mind again a week or a month later. Think about things that you really want, and write them down. Cement them.
Other things are constantly in our minds, and may have been for years. Make note of them! Simply by inscribing them on a piece of paper, you are moving one step closer to accomplishing or achieving them.
LIST #3: What is in your life that you DON'T want?
List five things that come to mind when you think of what you most want to change in your life. What things are weighing you down? What do you want to get rid of? What burdens are you carrying that you can no longer hold on to or that are keeping you from moving forward? Again, I am sure there will be one or two that jump to mind immediately. Make sure you keep your list to five things.
These could be things that you are currently doing (bad habits; a job you don't enjoy) or people who are holding you back or creating negativity in your life. Make sure that you prioritize all three of these lists; you can start writing down everything you think of, but then go through it thoroughly and ensure that you limit it to five that are your top priorities.
Put each of the lists in a different envelope, and, for now, forget about them. We'll visit them again on Day Two of The Contentment Project.