Recently, I was thumbing through an old moleskine notebook that I used to carry around in my bag. I used it mostly as a gratitude journal because for a while there it was hard for me to find things I was grateful for. I thought about starting that exercise again, and realized that I am beyond that, I could think of a million and one things to be grateful for in my life at this moment. But every now and then on a page in the little journal there were random scribbles of things that I wanted to remember but clearly had nothing else available to write them down on except my gratitude journal.
One of the things that I wrote was interesting because it is dated 5/15 but I honestly don't know if it was 2011 or 2012. It is the last thing that I wrote in this notebook, and here is what it says:
5/15- What would you say is the secret of contentment?
-getting rid of cravings & wants that you can't have
-aligning my will to God's will
The last part leads me to think that it must have been May 15th, 2011 which was a Sunday and I must have been at church. I don't really know if I have or ever really will know what that last part looks like, but I do know that something must have stuck as far as that first part goes...
Because...I really feel content lately. I feel it's a combination of things: living a lifestyle that is more economically aligned with my income, separating myself from people, places, and things that bring negativity into my life, and enjoying the things that I have rather than wanting for more.
Five years ago, I could blow through money (and credit) faster than anyone I know (which is why I am paying the price now). But now, I can honestly say that there is nothing that I want for. Books? Nah, I can check them out at the library! I used to believe that getting them at the library would be so difficult because you'd have to be on a dreaded wait list. "It's new, and it's the thing all the book nerds are talking about right now--- I must have it!!!" I can just hear the old me now! Yeah right! I don't know how many "New Releases" are sitting on my "haven't read... yet" shelf because I bought them and then never got around to reading them. So instead I'm reading some of those books, I'm signing up for some of those wait lists... and they are still coming in faster than I can read them!
I also notice now how appreciative I am of things when I do get them. Recently a friend and I went to go see a movie in the $2.00 theater and it was such a great day! Also, my sister gave me some coupons for a bunch of free food at the grocery market and I shared that free pizza with friends while we watched the classic, "To Kill a Mockingbird". It was a cozy night! The best though, is my mom surprised me by buying me a sweater that I just adore! If it had been the old me (that consumed every material item I ever wanted that I came across in person or online), I would have already owned it and it wouldn't have meant as much.
Now a lot of these changes had to come about out of necessity. I just simply can't afford to go out and drink every weekend, or buy every book that I want to read, or shop for new clothes when my old ones are falling apart... you get the drift. BUT, I have finally gotten to a place where I can honestly say that I have embraced my new lifestyle and if I'm ever lucky enough to make more money there are definitely some old habits that won't be making any re-appearance. Sure... I would like to always have a bottle of wine on stand by in my what is now empty wine rack, and I'd like to have a savings account that I could draw from when things go wrong with my car. But, I think if I had money I would rather spend it on seeing the world rather than "stuff". I just don't crave stuff anymore. In other words I'm interested in accumulating experiences rather than belongings.
And I'm learning to not want things that I can't have, and by this I mean...I'm learning to accept where I am right now in this moment and to not want to have my life be the way it used to be and I'm not wigging out that it isn't the way I want it to be in the future. Standing still in this moment and being grateful for the things I have has been one of the hardest lessons for me to learn, but I finally feel as though I'm mastering it. I used to feel that being content where I was would lead to me not having any goals or striving to be any better, I know now that these two are not intrinsic. I can be grateful and content and I can still have goals; my goals just don't need to make me miserable in the meantime. So what's on the menu for today- A big bowl of angst, or a party platter of contentment??? "I'll take the contentment, please!"