Contentment and joy don’t always just happen. Like most things in our relationships and lives as a whole, they need to be cultivated. Personally, I think the word discipline has an unfairly bad reputation. It’s associated with things we have to do, but don’t necessarily want to do. And yet, the results of a lot of disciplines are the very things we crave in life. Exercise leads to a healthy and strong body and greater energy levels. Good eating habits are a discipline that also gives us energy and a clear mind to do more of what we love each day. Communicating regularly with our loved ones can be a discipline that leads to greater understanding and increased intimacy. If enduring contentment and lasting joy are the rewards, what disciplines will get us there? Here are some ideas:
Celebrate each other’s successes, achievements and daily joys. Celebrating one another leads to greater trust, intimacy, closeness and stability. Your partner is not your competition. You are a team!
Focus on the good in each other. It can be easy if you are already annoyed, stressed or in a bad mood to only see the things that bother you about your partner and seem to make your life harder. Focusing on the frustrating things can tend to make them bigger until that’s all you see, which greatly decreases relational satisfaction. While in turn, we can take the good things our partners add to our lives for granted. Regularly choosing to remember, discover and communicate the good things about your partner to them will increase your own contentment and joy and that will flow into your partner, too.
Have fun together! Don’t let life become an endless string of goal setting, chores, tasks and paperwork. Take time where you can to just be yourselves, laugh, play and act like kids! Having fun puts all the other things in perspective and has a way of revealing priorities and allowing you to let the rest go. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have fun, either. If you need ideas, check out our blog on fun!
Practice gratitude. So many of the good things in our lives now are things we once wanted, hoped and waited for. When we achieve them, we often move right on to wanting, hoping and waiting for something else. Look around at your life and remember a time when you longed for the good things in your life that you now have. Pretend your younger self gets a peek into your life now. What would they be excited and amazed by? You’d be surprised how much gratitude this exercise will flood into your heart!
A beautiful part of the human experience is the joy of striving, achieving, dreaming and goal setting, but don’t let those things rob you of the joy and contentment that are yours for the taking right now.