Lately, I feel like God has been teaching me a lot about contentment. When I say contentment, I don't mean simply accepting your circumstances but rejoicing in your circumstances. I used to think that I needed so many things to be happy and to feel satisfied because, before I moved to Colorado, my life was full to the brim. For 22 years, I had been painting layer upon layer of happiness, if you will, and moving to Colorado felt like someone had just tossed nail polish remover all over my life. Everything was stripped down to the bare bones, absent of career, community, family, and the hubbub of the city I had grown to love. Recently, I was having lunch with my friend Allison, who manages the brand new lululemon in Colorado Springs. lululemon always has cool campaigns and challenges going on, and their current initiative, "Fuel Happiness", is no exception. Instead of focusing on grand gestures, lululemon is challenging it's employees and their communities to focus on the day-to-day, little habits, they can build to increase happiness. They encourage this campaign through a tangible deck of cards with five categories: Kindness, Meditation, Connection, Gratitude, Pleasure, and Positivity.
On each card, there is a challenge relating to the category on the front side. Maybe it's to perform a random act of kindness or invite a new coworker out to coffee to grow your social circle. Some of them focus on taking the time to go on a walk, reflect on the things you are thankful for, and change your negative words to ones that edify the people around you. Regardless of the specific happiness dare, I feel like the entire campaign centers around one truth: when you change your insides, you change the outside.
If happiness is ultimately based upon our attitude towards our circumstances, doesn't it make sense that changing our internal perspectives would fuel a change in our external environments? When my husband and I first moved to Colorado, it was like we went through a mourning period of all the things we felt we'd lost. We missed having a close proximity to our family, familiar social culture, and strong community at our fingertips. Instead of fueling happiness, we wasted a lot of time fueling dissatisfaction by focusing on the things we missed, rather than trying to build a change we'd like to see.
In the absence of community, the solution is to build community. In the absence of comfort, the solution is to develop practices of gratitude for the things you have been blessed with. No, these habits may not immediately change your circumstances, but they will change the way you look at your circumstances. I used to feel like I needed 100 things to change before I could accept my current state of affairs, but this is backwards. As the old adage goes, "be the change you want to see". This goes beyond donating to a charity and serving in a soup kitchen over the holidays. The change has to be a shift in your own perspective: realizing that there is no sense in wasting time being dissatisfied with your circumstances, and making the commitment to fuel positive practices in your own life and beyond.
Start small, make a little change, but fuel happiness for someone else today, and see how it impacts your own level of contentment.