Friday, March 25, 2011

Writing about Motherhood

Oh dear, I'm already running behind - I'm just not the most regular blogger around...

Our weekly writing group meetings are turning into every other week meetings. What can you expect with six busy moms?

At our last meeting we thought it would be interesting to tackle the ever so tiny topic of motherhood. If you've been reading along, you will already know that we don't have a lot of direction or guidance in our topics.

And if you are playing along at home, I promise I will look for pending comments and approve them!!! (Thanks Starcat for the comments, the posts, and the realization that I needed to do something about my comments!)

My apologies to those who have been trying to comment...

Ha! I just found out that I don't get an email notification when there are pending comments! I set comments to moderation after receiving some spammish comments a while ago and the comments have just been piling up ever since!

So sorry to those of you who have commented - I just approved them all...

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Contentment seems to be one of those words that people either consider positive or they give it a negative connotation. It reminds me of complacency in that regard. Complacency has a negative connotation for many people and yet, when I look at the definition, contented self-satisfaction, I see it as a very positive place to be. I’d like to think that the same people who see complacency in a negative light also see contentment in that same negative light, since they are so closely related. I, however, am not one of those people.

It’s always nice to go back to the definition of a word to see if it means what we think it means. Today we generally define content, as in contentment, as mentally or emotionally satisfied with things as they are. The original meaning of contentment is having restrained desires. The contented person’s desires are bound by what he or she already has. This closely relates to the noun, content, the idea of the boundaries, the container, or content of contentment.

One of our writing group members suggested watching a TED Talk by Dan Gilbert on happiness. I was really struck by how his research supports the original definition of contentment. Dan talks about how much happier people are with their choices when they think they are stuck with them. According to Dan, we have a psychological immune system that works best when we are stuck. It allows us to become content with how things are and it actually changes our preferences to match what we already have. This is SO cool! As Socrates said, “Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty.” Our psychological immune system keeps us rich.

Also in my inbox this week was: Having the life you want by being present to the life you have (The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo). I really like this idea, that we can have the life we want if only we are present to what we have. You have to notice. You have to be able to step out of yourself and see the greatness in your situation, no matter how bad that situation may seem at the time. There is a smoothness to contentment – an attitude of “things going my way” about it. In order to feel that flow, you have to be open to it, just as a faucet needs to be open for the water to flow.

As with most things, contentment is a balance. It is a balance between making things happen and enjoying what is. After our writing group chose to write about contentment last week, the happiness theme seemed to keep popping up all around me, helping me to really examine what it is about contentment that appeals to me so much. Now, it isn’t surprising for me to encounter a happiness theme in my surroundings, as I’ve done quite a lot to make that so all the time, but it did seem more concentrated since our exercise was decided upon.

In Oprah’s weekly Spirit Newletter, which I often just delete without reading came “5 Things Happy People Do” written by Gabrielle LeBlanc. In this article Gabrielle’s findings can be summarized as follows – happy people:
find and fulfill their sense of purpose in life
design their life to bring joy
keep life fresh to avoid the “if only” resentment
put close friends first
and are open to being happy

I don’t think happiness and contentment are interchangeable, but I do think that Gabrielle is speaking more on contentment than on happiness. When I combine what Gabrielle is saying with what Dan is saying, I totally get it! To be content with my life, I need to find and fulfill my sense of purpose, design my life to bring me joy, keep it fresh and interesting, hang with my buds, be open to being happy, and then what I have I will be truly satisfied with!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Writing on Contentment

As we were talking about our Bucket Lists this week, two words came up as words that mean such different things to different people: serenity and contentment. We thought it would be fun and interesting to write about contentment.

We decided to watch a TED talk on contentment before tackling our writing exercise. I'm really looking forward to this one, much more so than the Bucket List (which I really thought I wanted to do, but found much more challenging than I expected).

I'm interested to learn what you think of contentment. Does this word have a positive or negative connotation to you?