By Gwenn Voelckers
Merriam-Webster defines contentment as “the state of being happy and satisfied.”
This dictionary definition of contentment sounds like a nice way to feel, doesn’t it? Oh, if we could just snap our fingers and be happy with who we are and what we have. Wouldn’t life be grand?!
I’ve had the privilege of meeting and talking with a lot of women and men who live alone, and our conversations often turn to the subject of contentment: how to find it, how to keep it and how to find it again once it’s been lost.
Those on their own often feel a lack of something in their lives, and many have trouble letting go of a craving for things to be different.
I know. I’ve “been there.”
For years, after my divorce, I had trouble seeing the good in myself and in my life. But with time, intention and practice, I was able to stop yearning for what I didn’t have and to start appreciating what existed right in front of me.
It all began with taking a hard look at myself. It was an important first step, and I created the quiz below to help you assess where you are on your own road to contentment.
How Content Are You?
Circle the choice that best answers the questions below:
1. What do you admire most about yourself? If asked, how many positive personal qualities come immediately to mind?
A. Five or more
B. One to four
C. Nothing really comes to mind
2. How would you describe your home?
A. Very “me” — I’ve made it my own!
B. It’s fine. I keep meaning to redecorate, but just haven’t gotten around to it
C. It’s a place to sleep
3. The past is the past. How would you describe your success in letting go of old ways of thinking and of negative thoughts or behaviors that keep you anchored in the past?
A. I live in the present; it’s full steam ahead!
B. I still go “back there” from time to time
C. I can’t let go, I obsess about the past
4. Could you imagine planning a trip by yourself and traveling alone to a favorite destination?
A. In a heartbeat!
B. Maybe someday
C. I can’t imagine that
5. Does the thought of going alone to a cafe for a cup of coffee or grabbing a bite to eat in a local restaurant feels perfectly comfortable, even enjoyable?
A. I do it all the time
B. Occasionally, but I’m not at ease
C. I’m just not ready
6. Are your health and fitness priorities for you? Do you exercise, get enough sleep, and stay on top of health screenings?
A. Of course
B. I know I should, but I don’t always take care of myself
C. I’m too preoccupied to think about my health
7. How often do you reward or pamper yourself by taking some time just for you or by purchasing that little something special you’ve had your eye on?
A. As often as I can!
B. Sometimes, but I tend to put others’ needs first
C. I can’t remember the last time I pampered myself
8. Have you let go of the idea that you need a spouse to be happy and have a good life?
C. No. I feel I need a spouse (or significant other) to be content
3 points for each answer in column A
2 points for each answer in column B
1 point for each answer in column C
Contentment may feel elusive at the moment – beyond your grasp. But it can be found. You may benefit from talking with a professional or your pastor. Help and encouragement might also be found in grief support groups and other gatherings that offer emotional support.
You experience feelings of contentment, but you know there’s more to be found.
Continue to stretch yourself. Reach out to others. And “try on” healthy pursuits outside your comfort zone. Success and achievement breed contentment. You might also find inspiration and a needed “jump start” in workshops, classes and lectures devoted to personal growth and development.
What you have is precious. Being content with yourself opens up all kinds of possibilities. It enables you to feel peace and joy, whether you are alone or with others. It is an invaluable inner springboard on which you can launch all things imaginable!
How did you do? What did your score reveal? I’d love to hear your story. Please share it with me by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gwenn Voelckers is the founder and facilitator of Live Alone and Thrive, empowerment workshops for women held throughout the year in Mendon, NY. For information about her Living Alone workshops or to invite Gwenn to speak, call 585-624-7887 or email: email@example.com.