Thursday, November 12, 2009

Choosing Contentment: Part 2

For part 2 of Choosing Contentment, I would like to delve slightly deeper into following strategy:

Strategy 2:  Surround yourself with things that bring contentment.

This is the inverse of the last strategy (remove the things that cause discontentment).  First, get out a piece of paper and list what people make you feel content.  Contentment is sometimes a vague idea, so if you are having problems coming up people in this category, list people who when you are around them you a) rarely feel the need to buy anything, b) never feel like you need to hide your frugality from, c) feel happy with your life,  and d) don't feel the need to live up to a certain standard.

These people are worth more than their weight in gold.  Your goal for the next week is to plan ways to be around them more than you have been recently.  Invite them over for dinner and games, send them an email, call them on the phone, do whatever you can to be around them.  It is easy to isolate yourself in our present day society, or to get too worried about what the house looks like, how much work it will be to have people over.  However, I would really push for you to spend more time with these people.

When I was a senior in high school I had to do a paper on anything American.  At the time I was interested in psychology.  I decided that I would write my 18 page paper on a famous American pyschologist.  Little did I know that there are not many well known American psychologists.  I ended up writing a paper on Edwin Sutherland.  I struggled and struggled to understand the information that I had on him.  I spent hours and hours reading over his work.  After all of that time researching, I realized that the overarching theme amongst his studies was a phrase my grandmother used to say "Garbage In, Garbage Out."  Edwin Sutherland's work demonstrated that the large negative effect certain people can have on you and the positive effect others can have on you as well. 

It was such a simple idea, that it was difficult to write a paper on, but now as I look back on it, this simple idea could have a profound impact on your life.  If you applied it to the people who you hang out with at work, on weekends, the tv you watch, the radio you listen to, the internet sites you visit, the books and magazines you read, I'm sure it would change things.  This pertains to the contentment issue, in that being around people who are happy and content with little can many times help you realize your wealth and be thankful for your own situation.

In summary, my challenge to you and to myself for this week is to surround yourself with people who make you content and happy with your life.  Try to learn what you can from them.  Tell us about your experience.

What people give you contentment?  Tell us about them.  Is there anything we can learn from them?

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