Here are a few strategies to expand your capacity for contentment:
Action Step #1: Ask yourself the following question: “What matters most to me?” which is a shortcut to clarifying your values. For example, my top answers are relationships, love and ease. It took me several years to understand these core values, and now I realize that all of my choices and actions need to be congruent with these items in order for me to feel deeper contentment.
Action Step #2: In your heart of hearts, what do you really want and desire? This is a big question that deserves some time and space to explore. Consider what you want physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and sexually? Once you know what you really want, contentment is much more tangible.
Action Step #3: Dr. Seligman believes that meaning and engagement are two of the pillars for sustainable happiness. What gives your life meaning? What activities and relationships are engaging and enriching for you? On the flip side, if something is not meaningful or engaging, why do you continue to do it? Contentment expands once you determine your reasons to wake up in the morning.
Action Step #4: We are biologically wired for connection. Therefore, your nervous system and your brain circuitry lights up when you rely on reliable people. Determine who you trust enough to depend upon, and build more contact with them. If you’re having difficulty identifying a dependable individual, start with a sponsor, coach or therapist. Therefore, contentment grows when you surround yourself with those you can count on.
Action Step #5: Deeper contentment takes root with self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-compassion. Listen to Mindful Self-Compassion teachers like Chris Germer or Kristen Neff (you can find them on YouTube). Remember, shame and self-criticism cannot survive when compassion and contentment are present.
Action Step #6: If you don’t have a pet, consider adopting. If you do have a pet, spend more time with them and enjoy the 24/7 entertainment, unconditional love and play they gladly bring to you.
Action Step #7: Explore infinite possibilities. Give oxygen to your hopes and dreams. For instance, if you want to visit a particular destination, google it, learn about it and play with the idea of taking yourself there. It’s not that anything has to happen but simply what could happen.
Action Step #8: Contentment thrives on fun, play, laughter and humor. Spend time with lighthearted people. Watch comedies or funny videos. Adopt a pet and let your inner child play. Track how much or how little you are laughing each day and discover brand-new ways to bring fun and play into your daily practice. Try out as many of these ideas as possible, and let me know how they influence your contentment level. Most of all, have fun.