With each year’s conclusion as marked by my birthday, the understanding of what true contentment is deepens.
As many readers who have been readers of TSLL for some time noted last week, my birthday is sometime during the month of February, and it happens to be today (my 43rd). Over the course of this past year, as I have been completing The Road to Le Papillon (TSLL’s 3rd book) as well as sharpening the blog’s new design to reflect and communicate more clearly what living with true contentment means at its core in the most simple, but no simpler as to contain the full breadth and depth of what it is in our lives, I have been ever more consciously assessing my own life. Editing, letting go, adding – whatever was needed in order to find, experience and revel in a life of true contentment each day even if few people understood where I found my sense of calm, my steady internal compass and clarity of direction.
Without question, this past year has had turbulence, heartbreak, and quandaries unwanted, but so too has the past twelve months lifted unnecessary burdens, deepened my breath and given me much to celebrate.
As is evidenced by the events of the world, there is much we cannot control, but there is also oh so much that we can, and for me, what I have discovered is that the grounding, steadying skill to know and practice is welcoming true contentment into our lives.
Today I would like to share with you, as is tradition each year on my birthday, life lessons that came to the forefront of my life journey during the past year, and made me take notice. My hope, my goal, is to carry these lessons with me so there is no need to repeat the lesson.
1. A must-have skill to understand and exercise daily in order to experience true contentment: the ability to think critically
There will be days, moments and events that break our hearts. Many, we will have no control over, but what we do have control over is how we take in information about any given event. In the 9th chapter of my new book, the theme involves the necessity of thinking critically and what that looks like in our everyday lives. Including anecdotal examples of my own life journey, I share specific questions to ask and information to gather before coming to any conclusions and jumping to any side. Responding, rather than reacting, gives us time to fully consider the depth of the event. Not only does this give us some control, but it also gives us the information we can trust so that we don’t wind ourselves up in unnecessary worry, anger and fear. In other words, it gives us tangible information to further the conversation rather than fuel misinformation being spread further.
True contentment is the steady and ever-flowing stream of peace of mind. The peace of mind comes from knowing we can handle whatever occurs – wanted (savoring it deeply, so as never to take the goodness for granted) and unwanted (trusting we will not cause ourselves unnecessary pain and stress because we know how to acquire the information, the accurate information we need to move through the unwanted events/moments well and not cause ourselves or others additional strife).
2. In order to live differently, to live the life we want but are not currently, we will have to go through a period of struggle
3. In order to feel great joy, we must let ourselves grieve fully when there is loss.
4. You will never regret being love in your actions and words. Speak and act from a place of integrity and you will be at peace with how you travel. (this includes how you treat and speak to yourself)
5. Serendipity happens for a reason, we just may not always know immediately why it has happened.
6. Learn how to savor, and your life elevates as you never before imagined it could.
7. Play boardgames and card games more often – step away from the screen. More connection occurs and more opportunities to talk comfortably with those who may not be comfortable talking over a cuppa or cup of coffee and looking at each other directly.
8. Garden to enjoy the days and the seasons (and the conversations with neighbors it sparks!), rather than to perfect or ‘mold’ Mother Nature, or for a specific and narrow outcome. Enjoy the process and dance with what Mother Nature provides.
9. Sometimes, insecurities in others present themselves as hurtful statements about our life choices. Note their pain, even though unacknowledged, and don’t let what they share bear any weight on the deep fulfillment your life journey brings you.
11. Don’t let anyone tell you that being ‘direct’ is a fault. You simply have the courage and the clarity to know what you want/need when others either didn’t expect you to have a voice or didn’t want you to have a voice.
Keep speaking, making sure to do so respectfully, yet clearly. Follow Marshall Rosenburg’s non-violent communication steps – (1) state what you observe specifically (2) share the feeling you have that was caused by their specific actions; (3) state what you need regarding feeling or what you value and (4) state your request, specifically with concrete language. View the detailed pdf here of the four steps.
12. Part of being loving involves allowing people you love to be who they are and do what they need to find their peace, but don’t forget to only be in relationships with people who allow you to be who you are and do what you need to find your peace.
13. Be yourself. All of the goofy, yep, all of it.
14. Be brave, be open and let go. Let life surprise you.
In TSLL’s 3rd book I will share how while letting go can be frightening, temporarily painful and confusing, it can also reveal a life of wonderful surprises and more joy and reasons to celebrate than you may have ever imagined. In many ways sharing the book with readers is my act of being brave and open and, yep, letting go as well. The Road to Le Papillon: Daily Meditations on True Contentment will be ‘let go’ out into the public in a few short hours (paperback and hardback). Stop by tomorrow when I will share a video sharing glimpses inside the book, read an excerpt and walk readers through how the book is organized as well as share what exactly ‘Le Papillon’ really means (besides the literal translation of being the French word for butterfly). I do hope you will join me.
Past Birthday Posts
21 Lessons Learned in My 42nd Year, episode #302
15 Life Lessons Learned during my First Year into my 40s, episode #279