I’ve always lived by this simple money habit: If I don’t have the money, I don’t buy it. But just because I’ve decided going into debt is an absolute no-no, it doesn’t mean it’s easy to swat all those wants away. It’s hard work being content with where you are and what you have right now.
There are a million things trying to get your attention every moment of every day. From being influenced on social media to trying to keep up with the Joneses next door (did you see their new car?), there’s always going to be someone who has something newer, nicer or “better” than you have.
If you’re not careful, you’ll get stuck in a cycle that will leave you high and dry (emotionally, spiritually and even financially). You don’t have to live in that cycle! And it starts with something called contentment.
What Is Contentment?
Contentment is being at peace with where you are. Can’t you just feel yourself relax thinking about it? Now, before you get too comfortable, you need to know that contentment isn’t an excuse for laziness, apathy or just plain giving up. You can still be content while moving forward and growing as a person.
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But here’s the thing about contentment: It’s not easy to find. And once you find it, you have to fight to keep it.
Two Barriers to Contentment
Contentment doesn’t come easy. In fact, there are some enemies of contentment that try to steal our peace on a daily basis. Here are the top two barriers that keep you from true contentment:
Nothing can steal your contentment quite like jealousy. And if you’ve experienced it (we all have), you know it’s not pretty. Yup—I’m talking about keeping up with the Joneses. When you’re consumed by what your neighbor (or co-worker, best friend, mom, etc.) is doing, you’ll never be content with who you are and what you have. Why? Because someone else will always have something you don’t. So, you can be green with envy, or you can choose to be happy for others and thankful for the things you already have.
Comparison is the thief of joy. Listen: Comparing your life to someone else’s is like playing a game you’ll never win. And I’ve played this game more times than I care to admit.
In fact, a couple years into our marriage, Winston and I took this incredible trip to Charleston, South Carolina. It was beautiful. The food was delicious. And the people were so nice. We had so much fun. When we got home, I started scrolling through social media to see what my friends were up to. The first post I saw was from my favorite fashion blogger and her trip to the Greek islands. The pictures were outstanding. I had to go! Before I knew what I was doing, I was looking up plane tickets to Greece. (You guys, my bags weren’t even unpacked from our trip, and I was already comparing my vacation to someone else’s!)
See? Joy thief! Instead of basking in the memories we made in Charleston and being thankful for the fun we had, I was chasing make-believe! And that’s exactly why we have to guard ourselves from these traps—especially with social media.
How to Find Contentment
Contentment isn’t something you stumble upon. It’s something you choose . . . every single day. But there’s a formula that can help you get there:
Start with gratitude which leads to humility which breeds contentment.
Zig Ziglar said, “Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions.” And guys, he was right! Gratitude is a choice you make every single day! If you wait around until you feel it, it may never come. Why? Because it’s not natural. But when you start finding and searching for the little glimpses of hope in your life and where God has you right now, it can be amazing.
Instead of starting your day with email, work or social media, try writing down two things you’re grateful for. I tried this a few years ago, and it’s been a game changer!
I love this quote from Rick Warren: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
When you’re in a season of jealousy or comparison, one of the best things you can do to get out of it is serve someone else. It gets the focus off of you (and what you don’t have) to help someone else. When you’re humble, you’ll find joy that doesn’t come from “stuff” or spending money or chasing the next best thing. It’s a beautiful thing!
Now that you’re grateful and humble, contentment will follow—and once you’ve found it, don’t let it get away. Keep choosing gratitude and humility every single day, and it will keep producing contentment in your life. And guys, contentment impacts every single part of your life, even your finances.
Want to put this into practice? Grab a copy of my Contentment Journal! In three months, you’ll learn how to recognize the blessings in your life, how to think of yourself less (and others more), and how to be content.
3 Ways Contentment Can Make You Rich
Spoiler alert: People who are content actually win with money. Here’s why:
1. They save money.
People who are content put money toward their future. Yep, that means retirement and their kids’ college funds. They don’t have to spend all their money on “stuff.” Instead, they have the patience to save and invest money they know they won’t see for 10 years or more.
Sure, that takes discipline. But anyone who’s retired wealthy will tell you patience and discipline are completely worth it in the long run. Saving pays off!
2. They sacrifice their lifestyle to get out of debt.
The best way to become wealthy is to stop using debt as a tool. When payments eat up your income, it’s hard to use that money to give and save.
Content people don’t mind giving up a vacation or two, because they know their debt-free vacation five years from now will be so much better when they’re not worried about how they’re going to pay for it. They realize the freedom that comes with paying for things they can actually afford! Remember: Money can buy fun, but money cannot buy true happiness.
3. They live their lives with an open hand.
While this doesn’t always reflect financial “riches,” your life is much richer when you care about and give to others. That’s where true joy comes from.
Listen, we all have to fight the tendency to focus too much on ourselves. I’m guilty of that too. But when you’re intentional about giving, you begin to enjoy it more and it becomes a part of who you are.
See? Contentment is a beautiful thing. And when you pursue contentment in your life, it can have an amazing effect in all areas of your life—from your emotional to your financial well-being.
If you’re ready to build these healthy habits in your own life, check out my course, Know Yourself, Know Your Money, inside of Ramsey+. I’ll teach you more about the fears and behaviors you might have that are holding you back from winning with money. Sign up for your free Ramsey+ trial and jump right in!