How To Be Content: 3 Ways to Happiness for a Milspouse

by Heather on October 10, 2013

how to be content

How To Be Content: 3 Ways to Happiness for a Milspouse

by Heather Goffrier

Let me just start today off by saying that I have not learned how to be content 100% of the time. Most days I’m very content, but some days I am suddenly tempted to be very unhappy.

That being said, I have learned a few secrets of contentment that I want to pass on. These three ways to happiness are lessons I’ve learned as a milspouse, and I hope we can grow in contentment together as we practice them!

#1- Trust God and Focus on the Good Things He Has Done in Your Life

My daughter Pippa is a good reminder to me of what God’s perspective must be sometimes. In general, she is pretty laid back and doesn’t fuss a lot. But the lesson of how to be content comes when she gets unhappy.

When I know she’s hungry, I’ll put her down next to me while I get situated to nurse her. It’s right then that she panics and starts freaking out, like I’m going to starve her or something! I always find it amusing, because you’d think she’d realize that every time this happens, she eats in like 5 seconds. But instead, she starts whining.

I wonder if when we are freaking out about our circumstances, God is just getting ready to give us something good. And I wonder if when we fear that He’s not going to provide, He’s thinking, “Relax, I’m here for you. You’re even getting XYZ in like 5 seconds!”

Of course, 5 seconds for God may be a bit longer than we were hoping. But the point is, we need to trust Him. In order to be content, we have to focus on the positive.

  • What ways has God provided for you in the past?
  • How can you grow in your relationship with him even in this hard time?
  • What are His promises to you that you can focus on?

Focusing on the good can replace the unhappy, negative thoughts that we are trying to avoid. It makes us appreciate what we have, and contentment can live in that space.

#2- Joy is Not Based on Your Circumstances

It’s easy to think that if we could just have that one thing we want, then we would be happy. But our joy is actually not based on our circumstances. It springs from our hearts and our attitudes.

For example, I have been having allergy attacks my entire trip to Hawaii. It hasn’t ruined the trip, and it’s not God punishing me for wishing we could be stationed here. But it is a subtle reminder that even in our “utopia,” there are things that could make us unhappy.

Even if I had the exact “duty station of my dreams,” there would still be things that could make me unhappy if I let them.

Now, I’m not saying that we have to love every duty station. We all have our preferences and tastes. Maybe we wish we were stationed somewhere with better weather, closer to family, or with better schools or social activities. It’s totally fine to feel that way.

When I was visiting my friend’s church, I chatted with an Army couple stationed here in Hawaii. The wife said she doesn’t really like it here. It so hard to believe for me, because I would be stationed here in a second! But it’s just another reminder to me that we all have our different likes and dislikes.

We can be free to be who we are with our own tastes. It’s just when we let those desires consume us that it’s a problem. If we allow ourselves to get bitter and unhappy because we don’t have exactly what we want, our lives will be miserable.

The way we respond to our circumstances is what builds our character and helps us become stronger, more cheerful and happier in the long run. (For more on this topic, see my post about tough times.)

#3- Contentment is a Choice that We Have to Make Over and Over

It all boils down to our choiceOur decision to be happy in our current situation. It is not easy, especially in some of the tough circumstances many of you are going through.

Experiencing contentment when we’re used to being unhappy is not an easy change. Sometimes we can snap out of it. Other times we have to choose minute by minute to dwell on positive things.

I turn to the scripture of the Bible to encourage me and help me to stay on track. God uses it to remind me of all He’s done for me. In the most challenging situations, He builds my faith and reminds me that He is trustworthy, even when it is hard to see in the moment.

One of my favorite verses is Romans 8:28, “For we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to His purpose.” I’ve been amazed to see God bring good out of rotten circumstances, even if it takes a while before I recognize it.

 

This post today is a great reminder for me to continue to choose contentment and joy, rather than to expect it from my circumstances. I hope that you will choose joy as well. Please let me know how it’s going for you in the comments or on my Facebook page. We are all in this together!

And if you enjoyed this post, please take a moment to share it! =)

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