Monday, October 21, 2019

Contentment Challenge

Contentment Challenges and Tips | www.kristenwoolsey.com

con·tent·ment
/kənˈtentmənt/
noun
a state of happiness and satisfaction.
Contentment is a struggle for me. I'm a goal getter, an obsessive thinker, and someone who is constantly looking for ways to improve. While none of those things are truly negative traits, discontment usually follows. 

I never want to give up pursuing a better way. My need to improve is actually something that works to my advantage most days. However, when Blake and I started battening down the hatches on our budget, I realized just how often I was adding things to the wish list. 

Contentment is something that I want to work on in all areas of my life and personality, but today I specifically want to talk about contentment with material things. 

I realized that our habit has been to buy things whenever we wanted, when we wanted it. One example: For our 10 year anniversary next year we are doing a few trips, one of them being to Arizona and the Grand Canyon (so excited for that!). We plan to do a lot of hiking, and have even picked out a few trails to do already. This trip is going to be in over 5 months from now. We've already started buying clothes for this trip. Hiking boots...a sporty jacket...things we don't need right now. We have months and months to get ready for this trip, yet we just started buying stuff as soon as we felt the whim. Yes, we will need those things eventually. But, this is the attitude we've always had when it comes to material possessions. Want it? Go ahead and get it. No restraint.  

Obviously, habits like that do not collaborate well when establishing a new budget. Which is why we even noticed we do this in the first place. Limiting spending definitely opened my eyes to how often we are buying things well ahead of time, or just because we want it. 

I'm happy to report we are totally working on it, and improving every day. But, that doesn't mean it hasn't been challenging to change! In my quest to change, I've been really focusing on contentment. A quality that is going to be essential to the journey. 

Contentment, as I've already mentioned, is hard. The world we live in does not promote it, and does not support it. It's not coming natural to me, so I'm trying to force myself into it. Fake it till you make it has always been one of my favorite sayings, and that's exactly what I'm doing here. 

Make It Do, or Do Without
One strategy I am employing is the idea of making it do, or doing without. The truth is, our daily needs are very few. And all of them are covered! It's all of those extras that start to creep in on contentment. When I feel the need to get something new, I am trying to first ask myself: Is there something else I can use to meet this need? If not, can I live without it? 

Most of the time, you can totally find something else that works just fine. It's actually an opportunity to get creative! So far, I have not felt deprived when I found a different solution-I've actually felt pride instead. It's incredibly satisfying to know I was able to make it work, not spend any money, and feel creative all at the same time. 

Practical Ways To Feel More Content
If I'm not happy with something, and that feeling is making me feel like I need to buy something, it's incredibly valuable to try to find out the reason for the unhappiness. Then, try to fix it without spending any money. 

I know I've been talking in generalities so far, so I do want to give a few examples of what that has looked like practically: 

One of the main areas of our life that makes me discontent is our house. A few years ago, I noticed that when I watched HGTV I would get very antsy to make changes to our home. I had to stop watching it completely because it was becoming such a nagging feeling! I do love our home, but there always seems like a million things that I want to do to update it or some piece of furniture that doesn't look it's best anymore. To combat this, I've been doing little contentment challenges. I challenge myself to take the space that is bothering me and change it up. (Without spending anything!) 

The first place I challenged myself to fix was our guest room. It's been 2 years since we updated that room, and I was really discontent with it again. Part of these little challenges is figuring out what the source of my discontent is. I realized it was the clutter. As you know, I've been decluttering for the past few years, and any clutter really gets to me mentally. Mainly, this room had book clutter. Some people are crazy about their books and I used to be one of them. (Take a look at the before pictures in this post.) Since making over our guest room in 2017, I even flipped my books backwards so that they weren't as visually clutter-y. But, I was still feeling discontent with the room. 

So, I got rid of almost every book! It freed up so much space, even leaving a little room for our guest's stuff - the whole point of a guest room after all. We took the pointless chair out too, and now I feel like this space is finally done. 

Nautical Minimalist Guest Room | www.kristenwoolsey.com

Another area is our living room. I'm not 100% content in here yet. It's the couches. Our dogs have just torn them up over the years. But, I know that they would just mess up new ones too. So to combat that, I gave them some TLC. We fluffed up the sagging pillows, used leather wipes to revitalize them and decided to keep the dogs off of them as much as possible. 

Additionally, I decluttered this room again. There wasn't much to find, as I've already been pretty brutal. One major difference was choosing to downsize our movie collection (again.) With Disney+ coming out in the near future, we realized we do not need hard copies of most of these movies. Plus we already have 100 movies on our Vudu account. That cleared up an entire shelf on my bookshelf! (Compare that with this post, and see that we used to have 9 bins full of Blu Rays and DVDs. Now we are down to 3, and those are our favorites.) 


Honestly, just changing a few pictures around or swapping out some decor can do wonders. The space feels refreshed, and it did not involve a new paint color, a huge bill from Target or TJ Maxx, or even that much time.

It's not just our house that I'm doing these little challenges with either. Our closet is a source of discontentment too. In September I bought a few pieces for fall, and then decided to hold off from any other purchases for a few months. (Not a strict ban, per se, but definitely restricted buying.) I also made an effort to take some clothes in for alterations. There is no sense in it hanging in the closet if there is something I don't like about it. If I couldn't fix it with minor alterations, it went on Poshmark

I think contentment includes taking care of what we already have. These challenges have helped me to do that. I already have something that works, so I need to take care of it, then use it up or wear it out. Contentment helps combat wastefulness, and promotes gratitude. That's a lifestyle I really want.

Social media is something that has been weighing on me as well. The amount of products we see being pushed everyday is startling, and I know it has something to do with my own need to shop. That might be part two to this post, because I think I've gone on long enough as it is. Basically, I just wanted to share where I was mentally, and maybe get some feedback from you guys about how you stay content with what you have. Or is it something we all need to work on? 

Let's chat in the comments below! It's been a long time since I did such a chatty post on my personal feelings and a goal of mine. How do you manage to keep your want list minimal, and your budget on track? What makes you feel discontent? 

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