I have every reason to be content. I live in one of the most affluent and privileged cultures in the history of civilization. I enjoy the freedom to learn, speak, and even sing whatever my heart desires. I have daily access to clean water, wholesome food, and shelter from the elements. I am employed – and I even have the option to change careers at any time I wish. Friends, I am living the dream. I really have every reason to feel happy, expectant, and fulfilled; yet, I sometimes feel a disquieting emptiness and a deeper longing for significance.
You see, I struggle to find contentment in a culture seemingly obsessed with “self.” There is constant societal pressure to find our self-worth in our appearance and/or what we attain in life – whether material possessions, status, or a veneered sense of spirituality. So we can be inclined to keep others at arm’s length. We tend to over-manage relationships with friends, family, and co-workers in a subtle but desperate attempt to protect our own vulnerabilities. I too fall prey to carefully selecting what façade I share with others through the Internet – especially when it comes to Social Media. So I worry that not only I, but the people I love, are missing out on a more purposeful life that is deeper in meaning – brimming with authentic connections, fulfillment, and lasting contentment.
I was once counseled to “go serve other people” for a period of time to see what impact it would have on my life outlook – and you know what? It deeply and profoundly impacted me. I discovered that as I served, the more thankful I felt, and the more content I actually became. I was participating in something with life long implications. I am convinced that in a self-obsessed culture looking for fulfillment, thankfulness is the key to true contentment.
Through serving others, I found great relief in taking the focus off my unsatisfiable self. Now it’s likely some readers will chafe against this statement because it goes against the more conventional wisdom of pursuing one’s passions at all costs – but is such self-obsession what life is all about? Are we really telling generations to come, that their hope, fulfillment, and contentment can only be found in themselves? I’m not so sure I want my life to stand for such a notion.
Consider this: people from all walks of life share one commonality – we are human. We have value. We are image-bearing beings that are meant to connect. I mean really connect. We have the ability to impact one another for better or worse. Something as simple as a smile could change the course of a life. And when we live intentionally – by authentically connecting with and serving others, our humanity displays something greater about reality. Something glorious. And it’s good.
Do you want to find lasting contentment?
Get connected. Serve others. Be thankful.