A "Cherish Every Moment" decal on a mirror

I count them. All of them.

The hot stream of coffee descending into my mug. The morning light like yellow streamers pouring through my window. Silence—a day’s peaceful first greeting. Warm socks. Eyes that see, feet that move, hands that hold, lungs that breathe. Crisp journal pages on which I spill my thoughts. Warm light to read by. The smell of lavender. Blankets, bed, roof, family, health and…

This is how I fight the battle against discontentment—by counting all the gifts, the small pleasures, the unmerited favor, the joys and the beauties that grace the first hour of my day. I soak these things up, fill myself up with them and pour them out as I count, count, count—wading in the river of contentment.

I have come to find how easy it is to be content when life feels good—when the world feels alright, when plans work out, when my timeline is proceeding seamlessly and when I have everything that I want. However, true contentment exists just as much in the valleys as on the mountaintops. It is just as present in the cold, hard places as in the bright, hopeful places. 

True contentment exists just as much in the valleys as on the mountaintops.

It is peace regardless of circumstances. It is endurance on cloudy days, hope in quiet places and gratitude in the in between.

By noon, restlessness may descend upon me. I may start to grumble. Why has life led me here? Why does my post-grad life feel different than I expected? Why is my timeline not panning out as I had hoped? Will I ever reach my goals and achieve the life I had imagined? Why do other people seem so happy? Why is everything taking so long?

My morning resolve has dwindled. And so I count again, drinking in the beautiful blue sky, the warm glow of the sun, dried leaves that blanket the sidewalk in amber hues, a simple lunch, sweet text messages and an afternoon cup of tea. 

Contentment, in this way, is moreso a journey than a destination. It is a continual surrendering—a choice to count life’s gifts in the good times and the bad, in the certain times and the uncertain times.

[Contentment] is a continual surrendering—a choice to count life’s gifts in the good times and the bad, in the certain times and the uncertain times.

Contentment is something to be pursued and learned. The more I practice contentment, the more present it is in my life. By anchoring myself in gratitude and pursuing contentment, I become more immune to the tides of my circumstances. Life’s waves don’t pull me out to extremes as often. I can find the good in all circumstances and thus, live a life of peaceful contentment despite and in light of all things.

How does focusing on the present moment change your perspective? In this moment, what are three things you are grateful for?

Image via Tony Li

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