How do you find contentment? Is it really like a dog chasing its tail––always just beyond reach, and we go round and round in circles trying to get it?
I've been pondering this recently. Actually, to be honest, I've been grappling with finding contentment for years, but it is true this week that it has been more at the forefront of my mind. Enough for me to want to write about it. (I called my publishing business Happy Content publishing for this very reason).
It's telling that I am writing about it. Writing, after all, is what I do. I'm an author.
I couldn't be starting this conversation (and I mean conversation, so let me hear your comments below) if I didn't have this basis in my life. When my writing coach helped me back in 2008, I could never have imagined where it would all lead to. Yet here I am.
The picture above is from a Japanese puzzle book. In the sunny weather (finally!) it really is the perfect thing for me to help me relax, combining logic with art––both things I lean towards.
This week it's really helped me unwind and reflect.
Don't get me wrong, I love writing! Fifteen books in less than seven years are a testament to that, as it is evidence of how effective a good coach can be. But with success comes more pressure. I no longer just want to write great books, I want them to sell as well.
I don't have a garden at the moment, sadly. The balcony will have to do for the time being. Last month, I decided to plant out all the tubs again. Everything dies every year during winters in Estonia––which can lead to the thought of why bother? I've spent good money on blueberry bushes, shrubs and plants for them all to die out.
But gardening is another thing I love. Gardens are so relaxing for me, growing plants something so fascinating and rewarding. A garden will certainly have to play a role in my life again at some point. It's been nearly eleven years since we owned our own one.
I planted about thirty pansies in the first half of April, each plant with only one flower at the time. Now there is an abundance, right along our balcony. I deadhead the flowers once a day––sometimes twice––collecting anywhere between ten and twenty flowers each time.
It's a simple process, sitting on the balcony, doing some puzzles, or inspecting my pansies, deadheading and watering.
But it's so rewarding
I even have a little herb garden among the flowers. These go onto the homemade pizzas I make each Saturday––cooking a lesser passion, but still a fun thing I enjoy.
How does this equate to contentment?
Let me give you some pointers––I'm still travelling myself down the road to perfect contentment (the destination will have to involve a garden, I'm certain) so I won't pretend to have all the answers, but there are some principles I'm beginning to recognise.
1) Do what you love and love what you do
2) Keep things simple when you can
3) Enjoy the moment
4) Find those little things that help you relax and spend time deliberately doing them
5) Do more of number four––and then some!
In my job (and because of my job) I spend a lot of time on a screen. If I'm not standing at the computer then I'm on my iPad. Social media sneaks onto both screens––soulless, relentless, joy-sapping social media.
One of my keys to contentment (dare I add happiness to that?) is to reduce my screen time, especially with social media. Writing great novels on the computer does not count.
Who'd have thought a little puzzle book, some hot weather and a few dozen pansies could do so much?
What about you?
Tell me your keys to contentment. How do you relax?
I mentioned earlier that I can do this because I do what I love––and back in the day, I invested in the time and advice of a writing coach who got me moving. This week I've opened up my time to help coach others. If you want to become a writer––someone who does this full-time, week in, week out, then I can help you. You can read about that and all my publishing options here.