Contentment Scale – What’s Yours?
The other day I was walking home after going to a meeting where everything worked out wonderfully.
I was enjoying the walk, thinking about how well the meeting went and in a great mood. The weather was nice. The few people out and about seemed to be having a lovely time, and some even smiled at me as I passed by.
I thought to myself, this is how life is supposed to be.
Then, almost immediately, a number of negative thoughts flooded my mind:
* Why isn’t it always like this?
* Am I doing something wrong because everything went well?
* Maybe I haven’t figured it out yet?
* Watch out the other shoe will drop!
* and other negative thoughts…
I stopped walking and thought, ‘Peter, just listen to yourself, why are you so negative?’
As Beth and I travel along this path to understanding ourselves and our place in the Universe, we get these little wake-up calls to listen to our feelings. Our old thought patterns tend to weigh us down, particularly when they are negative.
On this walk, I realized I don’t expect tomorrow to be easy and for good fortune to shine my way. I hoped that if today was good, tomorrow probably wouldn’t be as good.
It seems I keep track of the good things and the bad things in my life and I have to keep it balanced. When everything is balanced, all seems to be ‘okay.’ It’s not ‘disastrous,’ however, it isn’t ‘fabulous’ either.
It’s like I have a contentment scale that goes between 0 and 100. Zero is ‘horrific’ meaning everything is going wrong with expectations of failure at every turn.
On the other side is 100 and my life is ‘ fabulous.’ Absolutely everything is going spectacularly, and I’m living life to the fullest. Each and every day and experience is filled with joy and happiness. I understand everything about the Universe and nothing can go wrong. My expectations are set to ‘marvelous’ at every turn.
My contentment scale is probably around 75.
When I’m driving the car, I expect to catch most of the lights green, but not all of them. If I made it all the way home and never had to stop at a light, I could tell everyone about it. I’d expect them to think I’m crazy because it would be so unbelievable. And that’s why it doesn’t happen.
The same is true for most things in my life. I expect most things to go well, but I don’t expect them to go too well.
Now I know I can change where I am on my contentment scale. You can change yours too.
Think about children and people who seem lucky. They just expect tomorrow to be as fun as today. Their contentment scale is pegged to ‘fabulous,’ ‘joyful,’ and ‘wonderful.’
I set my contentment scale as I grew up. I watched my parents. I read the news. I listened to other people. I lived my life and paid attention to my experiences. I saw that not everything works out. Sometimes the bad guy wins. Sometimes the poor person stays poor.
Based on my experiences, I set my contentment scale. It wasn’t too high and wasn’t too low.
By changing your expectations and reinforcing them with your experiences, you can change where you land on your scale.
As I continued walking along, I reminded myself I created the meeting where everything worked out. If I did it once, I can do it over and over again. There is no limit to the good meetings I can have.
I know I have work to do to move more to the ‘fabulous’ end of my contentment scale, but I now recognize I don’t need to keep myself in the same place.
Everyone has a contentment scale. Do you know where you are on yours?