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How to Be Content with Your Life

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How to Be Content | Tips for Practicing Self-Care | Goals in Life | Achieving Peace | Enjoying Life | Living in the Moment

I’m 34 years old.  My life has been great, yet I still wake up some days and feel completely unsatisfied. 

I felt like a raging success when I leapt into self-employment in 2011, about 16 months after starting this blog.  My husband joined me in 2012, I started a second successful business in 2014 (Crystal’s Cozy Care Pet Sitting), and we are still doing well with our businesses, yet I’ve lost that soul singing feeling of triumph. 

Why Do I Feel Like a Failure? 

Because I suck at being content. 

My online business peaked 3-4 years ago but is still chugging along.  I’m making efforts to grow it again.  My pet sitting business is blossoming more every season, and we just hired our first official pet sitter team member.  Yet, I keep comparing myself to others and feel like all my efforts are “meh”. 

Since I started researching contentment and making a list of steps for myself, I figured I should share it with anyone else out there kicking their own butts for no good reason.

How to be Content

Weirdly, being content is harder for me than making money.  Yet contentment comes in handy no matter where you are in life.  It is a priceless frame of mind that simply allows you to be happy without costing you anything, including opportunities.

Though it’s a lot easier to say “be content, you little wussie” than it is to actually change your frame of mind.  Here are some steps I’ll be taking to just be happier.

1.  Don’t compare yourself to others.

I’m going to unsubscribe to all blogs and leave any groups that only make me feel frustrated that I’m not where they are yet.  When I actually conquer contentment a bit, I’ll log back in and start making motivated plans.  But I’m just not feeling strong enough for those sorts of sites to help more than hurt. 

I need to keep in mind that humans generally compare their worst self to the best self of someone else.  Until I’m not doing that, I shouldn’t make it so easy to beat myself up. 

If this ends up meaning you’ll stop reading my site, I’m flattered that I’m someone you are comparing yourself to and I’ll look forward to hearing from you again once you come back.
  Keep in mind that your worst self and my worst self are probably incredibly equal.

2.  Live in the moment.  

Right before I started typing this, I was eating a breadstick several breadsticks.  I consciously made the effort to concentrate on every bite.  I noticed how the bread was soft and chewy as I bit into it.  I enjoyed the tangy spice and the sweetness of the tomato sauce that made up the marinara.  I chewed each bite 20+ times before swallowing.  I’ve eaten breadsticks and marinara many times, but I enjoyed the experience more just now. 

Stop making to-do lists in your head while you are experiencing life’s little joys.  Just enjoy the delightful moments!   

3.  Be grateful.

Last year, I started journaling a daily list of connections I made with people.  I stopped within a couple of weeks because I was “too busy” or “too tired”.  Well, that log of people I interacted with was forcing me to pay attention to my days and take into account that every interaction had an effect. 

I’m restarting that journal and adding in a list of gratitude.  I’m going to add to it every day.  It’s harder to be a complete ass to myself if I have a list of awesome right in front of me.

4.  Understand that spending money doesn’t lead to contentment.

Taking another cruise or having my entire house re-painted will not make me happy long-term.  I don’t need stuff or to take a vacation.  I just need to spend a little time figuring out what I actually want out of this life and then scheduling my life around making those wants happen.  I know I value time with my husband, friends, and family, so I should concentrate on that.

5.  Help others.  

Last week, I chaperoned a 1st grade field trip to the zoo to help out my teacher friend, Mandy.  The next day, I manned the register at a food booth at the Shell Houston Open to raise tips for SMART Pet Rescue.  I was completely exhausted after each of those days, but felt good about myself for helping out. 

Keep in mind that even the small act of smiling can make someone else’s day better.
  Start there and throw in volunteer opportunities and some acts of service to others and you’ll be feeling good about your current self in no time.


Out of those steps, I’m going to have the hardest time with #1…comparing myself to others.  I’ll work on that while tackling the other steps with gusto.  I’m actually feeling more content right this second…and I’m reaching for another breadstick.

FYI:  I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year.  I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $70,000-$90,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home.  If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!).  Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!
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9 thoughts on “How to Be Content with Your Life

  1. Comparison is a big one. So hard not to do and feel like we ‘should’ be doing something bigger or better than we are.

    I turned 32 today and while life might not be ideal right at this moment, I am pretty freaking happy with how things have gone and it’s amazing how much more content I am when I don’t compare with others.

  2. I love this post! I’ve missed your non-financial ones. Yes, I know this is a personal finance blog, and that’s how I got my start following you, but years later, what keeps me reading are the interesting non-financial stories. I’ve dropped every other finance blog because there’s only so much advice and tips about the same subject you can give without it getting stale. 😁

    Maybe the “meh” feeling comes with boredom. It sounds like you’re someone who likes variety and new challenges. And you obviously like to research how to accomplish your goals. Share your experiences and research with us! I like your posts about what it’s like pet-sitting, or Big Sisters, having roommates, or whatever other volunteer thing you’ve done. Those type posts may inspire people to go try that themselves. And if not, you have a great writing style that’s at least entertaining. 😄 Good luck, and I hope you find contentment!

  3. I think you should revisit your thoughts on position one and four.
    The premise of not comparing ones self with another, can lead to stagnation of the self and lead to island(or closed) thinking. A person, a people need comparison to grow.
    While money does come with headaches, it also provides avenues to pursue betterment. It is when you concentrate on one aspect,that you can become overwhelmed with a project, step back take in the big picture; don’t let pursuits of joy become a job. When a goal is not met in a timely fashion hold on to the goal, reflect on the attempt and retry.
    Here are replacement ideas:
    1.Surround your self with better, smarter people.
    4.Try not to saddle yourself with remorse.

    Think on the idea of a winner that fails and a failure that fails. To the winner it is a blow: to the failure, it’s just another day, so what’s for dinner, and it’s when there is no dinner that is when s**t happens. Big and small this is a rule/ a fact of life.

  4. I am over-weight with arthritis, which can get downright painful. I joined a weight loss and activities health group online. It is evident we compete and try to make each other be better people, sometimes with comments, sometimes without comment. I take breaks from this group every 3 weeks because I am not feeling the love. Some of the comments or lack thereof, seem to indicate to me that my participation is not needed or wanted, so why bother? Well, because I have been losing weight, I am more active, and I am making all kinds of plans. I have not quit the group, but I do lurk for a week or so, while keeping myself honest with my activities and my eating through the logging. Maybe all you need is a break and add something new or challenging to the mix. Maybe C. Crane has a point. Thing is, sites and groups can be stagnating too. Too many times patting each other on the back becomes a way of accepting a mediocre way of life. Smarter people are generally pretty busy staying busy. Today watching all the projects Elon Musk is starting and promoting has grabbed my attention. Despite all of his various endeavors, he seems to be making progress in most of them thanks to his various teams and other people taking an interest. It is uplifting. Hope I find something meaningful to contribute to also. Good luck to you and best wishes.

  5. This was just on my mind for last week’s post ( and I realized I left one thing out:

    While I don’t stop comparing myself to others in general, I know I’m content when other people get what I want (better job, more money, find a house) and I can be genuinely happy for them. Some friends of mine nabbed a Dream House a couple months ago and I didn’t have a twinge of envy.

    It’s great to work towards contentment, that’s what I’ve been doing for years without even knowing it. I don’t think that being content is antithetical to growth.

  6. @Kylie, Happy Birthday!!! Yeah, just enjoy being you!!!

    @Abby, I’m glad you liked this one so much! I usually have writing ideas in spurts, so there will be a string of personal / lifestyle topics and then a burst of personal finances ones. 🙂 I’ll totally continue sharing life stuff and always end up writing about the stuff that takes up my brain. I’ve been having a guest bedroom renovated for the last 2-3 weeks, so I’ll be writing about that and its costs soon too. I won’t be in the Big Brothers Big Sisters anymore – my Little dumped me and the program didn’t want me to sign up for another one since I’ve been actively trying to get pregnant. That was 2 years ago so the morbid joke is on them. But I’ll keep writing about my SMART Pet Rescue adventures!

    @Chris, but if I surround myself with better, smarter people, how will we get to hang out still. 😉 😛 Seriously though, I think all of our friends are actually better or smarter than me in some way. Artistically, mathematically, craftsmanship-y, less judgy than me, etc. I don’t want to compare myself to others anymore because it is actually hindering my ability to enjoy what I have right now. That doesn’t mean I’m not striving to grow myself, but it’s on my own terms and at my own pace. Contentment doesn’t mean stagnant. As for not dwelling in remorse, I think that is a good rule #6 but it doesn’t need to replace the rule about not spending away your crappy moods. But you can debate with me on all of this Wednesday. 😀

    @Kasey, thanks. 🙂 Mandy was the friend I was helping (I’m Crystal), but I’m glad you agree with all of this. Trying to enjoy “now” is a challenge. Have a great rest of week!

    @Carol, variety is indeed the spice of life. Don’t worry, I’m not planning to give up learning stuff or anything like that. But yes, like your weight loss group, some of the blogging groups I’m in seem to point out what I’m doing wrong more often than they motivate me. I’ll just lurk a while until I get some of my mojo back.

    @Revanche, THIS – “I don’t think that being content is antithetical to growth.” And yes, I knew I needed to start concentrating on my own contentment because I went from being someone who was truly happy with other people’s successes to being someone who got all grumpy in my head that I wasn’t keeping up well enough.

  7. The comparison one is pretty hard. You also need to make sure that the comparisons aren’t being forced upon you. I have a really good friend who is doing really good at his job and getting promotions and raises and bonuses. It’s awesome and I’m happy for him, but I’ve pulled away from him because every conversation we have centers around these things. Him talking about them constantly is a natural trigger to start my own comparisons, which of course doesn’t end great. Quite frankly, I have no problem that he’s doing well, I just don’t need to constantly hear about it, so I find myself communicating with him less and less.

  8. I used to compare myself to others a lot, and that’s never a good idea. It only builds up frustration.

    I developed the habit in school, when I ‘competed’ with my classmates for good grades. Back then it helped me learn more and make bigger efforts to “succeed” in school, but later on, when life began for real, this only lead to disappointment.

    So, I agree, comparing yourself to others is not helping. At all!

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