Contentment. The idea sounds nice, but is it attainable? Can we ever get to a place of pure, unadulterated contentment? This is part of what I hoped to find out during my contentment challenge this fall.
Through the challenge, I committed to giving up shopping for myself and our home for 3 months. That included clothes, home decor, anything extra that wasn’t truly necessary.
The First Two Months
During the first two months (September & October) of the contentment challenge, I actually didn’t have a lot of temptation to buy anything. This was greatly helped by the craziness of September & October in my business. I had more than 35 portrait sessions during that time and didn’t have much time to think about anything besides client sessions, editing, taking care of my family & keep our house half way decent.
A few times in the first two months, I found myself perusing online clothing websites. This was a form of stress relief for me over the past year. I often didn’t buy anything during that time, but it cultivated a seed that what I had wasn’t good enough. That I really needed that gray sweater or those brown booties. Hence the reason why I felt the nudge to do the contentment challenge.
The Heart of It All
Looking outwardly toward material things did not encourage contentment, but left me with the lie that what I had didn’t meet my needs. Spinning the web in my own mind that in order to look successful, I had to have XYZ. I had to look a specific way on the outside to meet the expectations of others.
As you’re probably thinking and shaking your head, you know that this is far from the truth. In order to find true peace and contentment, you must start from the inside and work your way out. Examining why you are having those feelings about yourself. Who you are trying to impress. Why do you want to impress them. What does your decorated house say about you.
Shopping Isn’t All Bad
Shopping in and of itself isn’t inherently bad. We often mark this is a negative thing in our culture. An uncontrollable action. In reality, it’s absolutely necessary. We have to shop for groceries, unless you plan on making all of your food. We spend money to buy a home, have bedding, sit on a chair or couch. These are all necessary. When it becomes an out of control is when we do it emotionally to fill a gap or void that we believe needs filled.
The Last Month
November. The last month is probably why I have not wanted to write this post for awhile. I was doing really well until the stress of pregnancy, a very busy photography season, the impending Christmas season and nesting kicked into overdrive. About mid way through November, I looked around and saw that so many things needed to be done, which inevitably meant I would need to spend some money.
I didn’t go crazy and buy a $300 purse because it was cute, but I did start decorating the nursery, finally finished decorating our family room, starting Christmas shopping and purchased a few inexpensive clothing items to make this 30 year old pregnant body feel a little more human.
Could I have waited two more weeks to do many of these things? Yes.
Do I wish I would have waited to finish the contentment challenge strong? Yes and no.
The stress of waiting to purchase Christmas gifts was something I knew I couldn’t worry about with everything else going on. It was worth it to take that stressor off my plate. Because of the contentment challenge, I sought out budget friendly & thoughtful gifting option for our girls. Four items + stocking stuffers. Something you need, something you want, something to wear, something to read. I would love to do this every year.
Decorating the nursery was therapeutic and made me feel less overwhelmed about what life with three little ones will look like. Organizing is most definitely my way of feeling at peace about a situation.
All in all. I’m really glad I did the contentment challenge. It stretched me in a way that I didn’t want to be stretched. I never felt like spending a lot of money was my issues, but it’s the little purchases that just kept adding up. I knew I needed to examine the heart behind why I wanted these things.
I highly encourage you to give it a try if you’re feeling discontentment or just need to be reminded that we have so much. I want to spend more time thinking about how I can give, instead of what I can get.