Cultivating Contentment

How to find contentment; How to be content; Cultivating Contentment; Comparison Despair

Good morning!

There’s a Modest Mouse song that has always struck a chord in me from the first time I heard it. Isaac Brock sings, “Other peoples’ lives seem more interesting ‘cause they ain’t mine.” Have you ever scrolled through Instagram or Facebook only to be left a little wistful, maybe even a little disappointed that your life doesn’t seem to measure up? Man, my Facebook friends living in Antarctica are playing with penguins again. I worked all week, it’s finally Saturday, and I’m vegetating on my couch like a straight bum. Why can’t I be playing with penguins in Antarctica? Maybe I should have majored in marine biology in college… Did I pick the wrong major? WHAT IS WRONG WITH MEEEE

Yeah okay, if you haven’t, then this blog post isn’t for you. Congratulations, you’re #Winning. But if this is maybe even a little bit true for you, then read on, dear friend…

It’s no secret that I love to travel. I have been a total Instagram junkie, feeding on the lives of other young women living nomadic expat lifestyles. They are always seemingly tall, thin, tan, blonde and beautiful. And they seemingly “travel solo” all the time yet have a million pictures of themselves doing awesome things that could ONLY be taken with a DSLR… I don’t know if you’ve ever given your DSLR to a stranger to take a photo, but it always comes out blurry and sometimes I’m not even IN the photo. But I digress…

I’ve had many great travel adventures, and I am so thankful for them. So why do I compare my life to theirs?

Being the logical thinker that I (sometimes) am, I think, Okay, I don’t have to compare my life to theirs. I could quit my job and move abroad too! There’s nothing stopping me. And then I chase down that decision: i.e. start to plan it out and dive deeper into what it would really mean to actually live out that decision. This is what I came up with:

If I plan out exactly what my life would look like if I lived abroad as the fabled Nomadic Traveling Expat, honestly… it looks a little lonely. I’ve spent the past 2-3 years cultivating many new friendships. I would have to begin again. While parts of that are exciting, some look quite sad to me. There may come a time when God stirs my spirit to make a leap, but for right now, I think I’ll enjoy where He has me.

If you look at the lives of people you idolize (perhaps “idolize” is a strong word – maybe just idealize), I mean really look, do you want all the burdens and struggles that come along with it? In my case, looking at the idyllic Nomadic Traveling Expat: Do I want to be financially poor, living paycheck to paycheck, unsure of when I will see my family again? I think I know the answer to that one. Is the person who you are comparing yourself to perfect? No. What we choose to share on social media is just the picture we want to paint of ourselves. Never underestimate the power of this technological age to skew reality. Have you ever seen a picture of me on my Facebook where I wasn’t smiling or at least doing some fun activity? I don’t share pictures of #TheRealTruth aka me crying in a bubble bath every Monday because #Life. (But apparently I’ll tell you about it– whoops, I blew my cover.) But the fact remains…

We were simply not meant to take in all the information that we are bombarded with every day, including the details other peoples’ lives. I want to hear about the amazing things people are doing in the world, but I don’t want to compare my life to theirs and leave with a familiar taste of “not enough” in my mouth.

Cultivating Contentment; Comparison Despair; How to be content

So maybe we should pause, take a break for a hot minute from all the social media scrolling – heck we don’t even read things anymore, we just flit on to the next photo – and slow down, enjoy the moment, and remember that Life is a gift. Even our “normal” every day and sometimes mundane or boring lives. Creativity is borne from boredom. We are constantly overstimulating ourselves. What amazing things would happen if we let ourselves breathe a bit?

So next time you find yourself creeping on someone’s social media account and succumbing to the comparison despairison (yeah I just made that a phrase). Remember:

A picture may be worth a thousand words but it leaves out half the story.

The truth is, we simply will never know what’s on the other side of someone’s social media account.

How do you avoid comparison despairison? (Totally just wanted to use that phrase again, not gon’ lie). How do you limit your social media consumption?

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