Achieving Contentment

Daniella Cressman
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Sergio Souza
“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”
— John Lennon

This is one of John Lennon’s famous lines, yet, like all of us, he had many ups and downs: Sometimes he was content and proud of his legacy; other times he was abusing drugs. Fame was a mixed bag, and not everything was rainbows and butterflies as it may have seemed from afar.

In America, so many people want to be happy.

Have you ever told yourself that you’ll be happier when you get into that relationship with your special someone when you get that Mustang convertible you’ve always wanted, or when you finally have enough money in your bank account to move to France?

Perhaps your visions differ from mine slightly, but the bottom line is this: You’ll only really be happy if you work at it, and guess what? You don’t always have to be.

Sometimes, crying can help you release the trauma of your past. Sometimes expressing fear can help you work through it, and sometimes you just get up on the wrong side of the bed and everything seems to go horribly one no matter what you do, and that’s okay: We all have those days.

If you want to be happy, there are many ways to achieve this internal state, but it takes daily work, commitment, and a good deal of time and energy.

1. MEDITATE

Meditating for 40–45 minutes per day tends to help people who are struggling with severe anxiety.

It’s important to at least try to do it regularly, but everything requires time: If it takes you a while to achieve consistency and develop this new habit, that’s okay.

2. EXERCISE

Exercise pumps up your endorphins, relieves anxiety, and decreases sadness. It’s a great way to boost your energy levels before you tackle your tasks for the day, and it can help you achieve your fitness goals!

I want to point out here that there’s nothing wrong with being curvy or being bigger: Everyone is beautiful in their own way, and it’s so important to embrace your body just the way it is.

If you are happy with your weight, there is no reason to try to change it.

Honestly, working out in order to improve your mental health is one of the best things you can do in my mind because it’s about your internal well-being, so you can let go of any self-image struggles you might be dealing with — you’d likely be surprised by just how many of us can find something to not like about our bodies, even if other people think they’re perfect!

That being said, jogging or bicycling can help you lose weight if that is your goal, especially if you combine it with a healthy diet (Veganism can often result in healthy weight loss, for example, although that’s not guaranteed).

3. EAT HEALTHY FOODS

It’s important to eat what you love while also having a balanced diet: Perhaps beans, spinach, and rice strike your fancy. On the other hand, you might be a green beans, steak, and potatoes kind of person.

Generally speaking, it’s best to limit red meat to about two meals per week to improve your health.

If you aren’t sure how to balance everything correctly and which supplements to take if you choose vegetarianism or veganism, you might want to consult your local nutritionist so they can help you achieve your fitness goals.

At the end of the day, the key term is balance.

Also, if you’re going to fast, please make sure you research the healthiest ways to do this: Intermittent fasting can be a great way to speed up the weight loss process, especially if you are drinking plenty of water, but fasting for too long can actually result in weight gain because your body may go into starvation mode. Fasting for a day is just fine, but after a certain length of time — it varies by individual — this practice could lead to negative results.

If you are struggling with anorexia, this is not going to be a good course of action for you to take. I’d recommend seeking help and improving your relationship with food: It’s okay if you’re struggling: A lot of people are and sometimes the beauty standards can feel completely unobtainable — and be just that — but you’re gorgeous as you are, and you deserve to love your body and nourish sufficiently.

If you’re concerned, you may want to speak with a registered dietician to make sure you’re making healthy choices in this regard.

You can honestly achieve amazing results if you don’t ever want to give up eating because you love food so much if you prioritize healthy, balanced meals. You can even enjoy seconds and thirds!

Basically, fasting can be great if you don’t overdo it, just like a lot of things in the fitness world!

Honestly, if you’re looking for a happy medium, juice cleanses are fantastic and detoxifying!

4. GET CREATIVE

Engaging in art can alleviate depression and anxiety, and it’s especially beneficial if you can do this in a group because we’re ultimately social creatures, and spending time with others can increase our contentment exponentially.

Don’t be afraid to pick up that guitar, attend a local painting class, or write whatever your heart desires.

All of these activities are great for your mental health.

5. BE SOMEWHAT SOCIAL

A lot of people have social anxiety — myself included — so this can be tough. Furthermore, there are plenty of introverts who are perfectly happy with a good book and a warm cup of tea, thank you very much, and would prefer to stay wrapped up in their blankets sitting on their couch all day long.

Believe me, I understand!

Madisyn Taylor recommends getting out and at least twice per week in her fantastic book titled Unmedicated:The Four Pillars of Natural Wellness.

For her, that means horseback riding with her friends.

For you, it might be something else.

It could be anything really.

I’ve found that once a week really works fine for me.

If you’re really scared, joining a book club once per month might be just what you need.

It’s okay to take baby steps until you find your people and start feeling more comfortable!

6. GET ENOUGH SLEEP

You’ll want to aim for at least 7–9 hours of sleep if you can. I’ve found lavender tea and hot Epsom salts baths to be very helpful if I can’t seem to unwind after a particularly horrible day or an extremely exciting one that was incredibly stimulating!

The exact recommendations do vary by age: Babies and young teens tend to need a bit more rest, while people over 65 don’t require quite as much, but, again, it’s all about what helps you feel your best!

7. PRACTICE GRATITUDE

I’ve noticed one thing about nearly every content and successful person I’ve encountered: They’re immensely grateful for their material items and for the recognition they have often received. They’re usually the first to credit others who helped them get to where they are, and they don’t take one moment in this life for granted.

Sometimes, reminding yourself that you’re grateful for your car or having a roof over your head, or having food to eat or clothes on your back is enough to help you relax and be in a better headspace.

So as you can see, happiness isn’t about anything external. It’s not about earning a lot of money or having a super nice car and a big house.

It’s just about doing your best to be a good friend to others, leaving your abode occasionally, fueling your body with healthy foods, and tending to your mental and physical well-being.

Also, you probably won’t be jumping for joy every day of the week — who is?! — but you might experience consistent contentment as a result of these practices.

Sometimes, you might do all of these things and still feel miserable, and that’s perfectly fine: We all have struggles, and it’s important to feel the pain so that you can work through it and get to the other side of it.

You don’t have to be happy, but you can be if you work really hard at it.

It’s your choice.

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Albuquerque, NM
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