That sweet spot of Contentment

Contentment.

Ranks right up there with peace of mind. (They are not the same).

Both are life skills that (in my mind) are underrated.

Both can be cultivated.

Underrated: Not rated or valued highly enough. When something great doesn’t get the appreciation it deserves.

Last weekend, a good friend at church said to me. “You are not normal.”

That I already knew.

He meant it as a compliment. 🙂

I asked him to clarify what he meant, because I wasn’t 100% sure.

He said he can see it in my attitude about “stuff” and money.

I’m not driven. Doesn’t mean I don’t love putting in a hard days work, Didn’t mean I was lazy. Didn’t mean I don’t see the value in saving money for the future, because I do..

Give you an example. Saw this picture last week about vehicles. It captures my attitude about my work truck that I picked up from my dad:

My work truck is simply a tool. A tool for me to do my job. As long as it’s mechanically sound, it doesn’t have to be pretty.

I used to work with a young man on a regular basis who was just getting into construction. At this time, he had 4 or 5 years experience under his belt. I had 35 years. He came to work one morning with an almost new truck. Parked next to my 15 year old Tundra. He told me to watch out, make sure I didn’t scratch anything, not to accidentally bump against it with my tool belt when I got something out of it.

Who would you rather hire to remodel your home?

++++++++++++++++++++

Wealth is a tricky thing to keep the right attitude about.

It’s all about balance.

It’s like riding a bike. You can tip over any time.

I can be strapped and worry about money all the time, or rich and worry about it all the time. Afraid I won’t be able to pay my bills or afraid I’m going to loose what I have. Another big contentment stealer is chasing after the mirage of, if I just had____________ then I’ll be happy.

Is it even possible to be content when it comes to wealth and materialism?

Back in 2014, I came across the book Debt Proof Living by Mary Hunt.

(Notice I don’t have a link to that book, you’re smart enough to track it down if you’re interested.) I don’t do this (blogging) for the money.

I do it because I enjoy it. Period.

Hunt’s book completely transformed my attitudes about money.

(I’ve written about this before, so if you’re a long time reader you may remember).

We were ten’s of thousands of dollars in the hole at that point. Financial stress was always in the back ground of my mind. It felt (to use a word picture) like I was piloting a 747 and we were literally 20 feet above the surface of the ocean. The plane was still in the air, and it was moving, BUT the waves were lapping @ my wings.

Hunt wrote about that season in her life, and she was a lot deeper in the hole than we were. Her words gave me hope. More than that, she touched on issues of contentment and how to find that sweet spot of contentment.

That was in the spring of 2014, and I’ve never looked back.

Hunt’s book gave me a game plan.

I made a chart, pinned it on the wall in front of my desk. I drew a picture of an airliner skimming the water…then slowly gaining altitude and speed as different debts were paid, and money was saved for emergencies. Just making that chart gave me hope, even though initially nothing had changed in the short term. We’ve stayed on that trajectory ever since.

Early on, we looked at every detail of our lives, trying to figure out where we could cut. (Health care, heating system in the house, all of the normal things you look, even had the house appraised because we thought we might need to move)

Everything was on the table.

+++++++++++++++++

Enough

It’s not just about money.

It can just as easily apply to how many bee hives are “enough.” (I’ve wrestled with that)

How many laying hens, or number of apple trees to manage or hobby expenses, or (fill in the blank), how much is enough? You know as well as I do, whenever a person focuses on an area of life, it’s real easy for that area to take on a life of it’s own.

Love to hear your thoughts.

DM

15 thoughts on “That sweet spot of Contentment

  1. The words that accompany that old car picture are priceless. It reminded me of my own dad’s outlook in many ways as he grew older. I reaped the benefits of many of those old yet very stable and suitable cars myself until I found the means to actually buy my own first “old” car.

    I may be at a curious point in the contentment search. If we are talking happiness and satisfaction (which I believe you are) and which I believe I have achieved at this point in my life, I find myself dealing with others (well-meaning by their standards) who seem to feel I need more to be content. I found my own self attempting to “guide” my daughter when she was here, even fully-well knowing that she is on the road to finding her own contentment. That unnecessary help on my part allowed me to realize that others were doing the same to me. So then I wonder, if one is fully content do they/are they at those moments, with a calm smile on their face, simple able to allow the others to talk away and then, with a small “thank you” just turn and walk away? That is my place on the contentment road right now…

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think you’re hearing me by your response. My dad (bless him) was doing that very thing again to me yesterday in at least two areas of life. My mom who was sitting in on the conversation, totally got what was going on. A small irritation started to stir in my heart (I felt like he was talking down to me/ like I was stupid) but another part of me, knew he meant well, so I (mostly) was able to do what you suggested..allowed him to talk and not take it personally. Always enjoy hearing your perspective. thanks Deb! DM

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  2. Is it even possible to be content when it comes to wealth and materialism?

    It is the prerogative of the poor to say they are richer in other ways. And obscene for the rich to say they haven’t got enough.

    Meanwhile, money.
    I loath it but know it as a necessary evil.
    Yet how many ‘wanna be rich’ use cash nowadays as this is the age of the credit card. Credit? That’s the ultimate lie when it comes to wealth.

    You asked how anyone can be content about wealth?
    It’s too easy to be content when anyone can own what they want, when they want, and pay for it ‘eventually’.

    Meanwhile know this. In the past I had more money than sin and it meant nothing. Then I had nothing. Funny bit about that, I was more content living from hand to mouth.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m the money manager in our family, and learned a long time ago the perils of overspending and credit cards loaded to the max. Holding down two jobs, I kept myself afloat, not getting further into debt, but not getting out of it either, things were that tight. Swore I’d never do it again, and I haven’t.
    Once that relationship was sorted and all debts cleared, it stayed that way (other than a mortgage).
    Bills and taxes first, budgets worked out a year in advance, and save for a rainy day. Interest on savings is a pittance, and now I’ve thought sod it, why scrimp, save and go without for no return. So the budget is done and we have a cushion which is topped up when we dip into it. If we want something in particular, like we have just changed the car, then yeah, why not. We have enough and live a good life, but we aren’t rich, nor do we want to be.
    Love your new truck/old truck snippet. As you say, the vehicle is a tool, not a status symbol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know what’s interesting, that’s how our financial situation as evolved..used to have a very specific budget, now, just a “cushion” that we keep puffed up if we need to dip into it. Just like you, we are far from “rich” nor want to be. Those memories of financial stress are still fresh in my mind, no way would I borrow and go back there. thanks for your input Di! DM

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  4. I think you have the right approach to what’s important in life, DM, and what leads to contentment. And it is not rampant consumerism. Enough money’s obviously important, but more than that isn’t. Doing a job well and taking satisfaction in it is important. Having solid relationships is important. Being kind to others and feeling kindness around you is important. Reacting to advertising for something you don’t need but the marketers are trying to convince you you want is not productive or happiness-inducing. Coveting what your neighbor has or does is not productive or happiness-inducing. In the end, I think contentment comes from within. I think you know that and have achieved it. And that’s a very good thing! 😊

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  5. I am a less is more sort of person, except with books. There are never too many books…but aside from that I’ve learned that it’s about what I’m doing, not what I’m wearing when I do it. I don’t understand people who own 50 pairs of shoes. I don’t understand five TVs. When you try to fill your life with things your life becomes things. That’s not a life. A life is taking a walk, talking to a friend, doing something that inspires you. I own about six pans…I cook as well with those six pans as others do with forty. Owning more doesn’t make you better. Does that make sense?

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  6. First what you said makes total sense. About books…I love books. You and I are on the same page here We have books, books, books, all over the place. Nothing like the hunt of finding a used hardcover on line for something I want to read, or pennies on the dollar of new. I think for me, it is as much the tactile’ feel in my hands as anything. I don’t have a smart phone nor kindle, so I’ve never done any of that.
    Your comment about the pans made me get up and count how many we have in circulation. I do a lot of cooking, 90% of it in one large skillet. Also love my steamer (it sets on top of another smaller pot) for steaming vegetables. Then there’s one I use for broiling steaks in the oven. Large stew pot for making lentil soup/ etc. in the winter, and my bread pans. Wife has a couple she prefers..but yea, what’s the point of so many other pans. I think it must be an addiction. Thanks for taking time to weigh in on this one! DM

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  7. When my kids were in elementary and middle school I was surrounded by doctor’s wives. Yes, they were great parents, they volunteered, they cared for their kids, but they got new cars every three years. I’m not judging them, but my husband and I were thrilled to have a car that ran and drove them until they died. I agree with you. Cars or trucks are a tool. It’s nice to be financially secure after starting married life searching through pockets and the sofa cushions for quarters to buy the three for $1 tacos at Jack in the Box. But looking back on those years, we were very happy.

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