16 Ways to Become More Content

16-Ways-to-be-More-Content

If you’re struggling to be content with your lot in life right now, here are 16 ways I have found have helped me cultivate contentment and a love for the life I have been given:

1. Go On a Spending Fast

Challenge yourself to stop spending money for a period of time — whether that’s a day, a week, a month, or longer. {Well, start small if this is a brand-new idea to you!} You’ll likely find that you begin to have a whole new appreciation for what you already have… and you’ll realize that you spend a lot more money than you need to.

2. Stay Home More

It’s pretty much always true that the less you shop, the less you buy. Stay out of the stores and you won’t be tempted to purchase things you didn’t know you needed in the first place!

3. Learn How to Do It Yourself

There’s a lot of fulfillment that comes from DIY projects, especially when they are saving you money! Challenge yourself to try at least one new DIY idea every month.

4. Surround Yourself With Frugal People

In Stop Acting Rich, the author says that the people you surround yourself with often have a great influence on your spending habits. So make some frugal friends and spend a lot of time hanging out with them. Even if you’re not a very frugal person yourself, I’m guessing it will rub off on you at least a little!

Psst! You should consider starting a Frugal Friends group.

5. Make a Gratitude List

It’s easy to focus on the hard and difficult things in life, but you’ll enjoy life a lot more if you challenge yourself to focus on your blessings, instead. Write down three things you’re thankful for every morning when you wake up or every evening when you go to bed. You just might be amazed at how it changes your whole perspective on life!

6. Eat From the Pantry

Every few months, declare a week of eating from the pantry and freezer. This will encourage you to think outside the box, be creative with what you have, and help some of that extra food that’s been at the bottom of the freezer and the back of your cupboard not go to waste.

7. Make Do Instead of Buying New

When you think that you need to buy a replacement or just something new altogether, see how long you can make do without it. I’ve sometimes gone for years without replacing something that I once that was a must-have!

8. Serve the Less Fortunate

Want a reality check on how fantastic your life is? Go on a mission trip to a third-world country. Or just go volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen.

9. Shop Your Closet

When you feel like you “don’t have anything to wear”, shop your closet before going shopping at the mall. Challenge yourself to discover some new outfit combinations that you hadn’t come up with before.

10. Plant a Garden

There’s nothing quite as fulfilling as back-breaking gardening work that results in a bountiful crop of food!

11. Take Up a Handwork Skill

I find handwork to be relaxing and cathartic. Plus, it’s a great way to keep your hands busy while having conversations with friends or watching a movie with your family.

12. Try a New From-Scratch Recipe Every Week

Make a goal to try a new recipe every single week. Not only is it fun — and it helps change up your usual cooking repertoire! — but you also might find some great from scratch recipes for things you typically buy pre-packaged.

13. Practice the One In, One Out Rule

Whenever you get something new, make a habit of also getting rid of something you no longer need or use. This will help keep some of the clutter at bay and will also help remind you how blessed you are!

14. Don’t Watch TV or Read Magazines

If you can’t tune out the advertising on TV and in magazines, just turn it off and cancel your magazine subscriptions. It’s just not worth it. Plus, I’ve found that you can get a whole lot more done if you don’t watch much TV! :)

15. Take the 100 Things Challenge

Could you simplify your life by having 100 things or less? I really want to try this sometime!

16. Read Blogs and Books on Simple Living

Anne from Modern Mrs. Darcy made a great point on her blog in early 2012. She talked about how you should read blogs that are on topics related to areas of your life you want to improve in. I love that!

So if you want to become more content, read blogs and books that are going to encourage you toward simple living and contentment. I personally love and recommend Ann Voskamp (just the pictures alone will make you feel more calm and content!) and MomAdvice (her knitting, reading, and baking inspires me!).

What tips and suggestions do you have to add to this list? I’d love to hear! (And if you have a blog or book suggestion on the topic of simple living, please tell us!)

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Comments

  1. says

    This is a great summary! I find that if I stay at home and don’t go shopping, I do not see things I want and am more content with what I have.

    I have a large family (7 of our 10 children are still at home) and when I am at home, we eat better because I plan and follow through with healthy menus. Plus homeschooling is more consistent.

  2. Jerri says

    Bake a loaf of bread or pan of rolls for your family and one for your neighbor. Service plus a wonderful smell can dispel the discontent.

  3. says

    You pretty much described my life for the last 5 years.

    Staying home is a wonderful thing. It doesn’t cost any money for gas. We can play in the garden, look at the stars, watch the sunrises and sunsets, look for rainbows (we have seen several!), read, get things done, grow a garden, sew, repurpose clothing, and cook from scratch because we are home.

    My garden doesn’t just grow food, either– I grow flowers, which I can bring in to enjoy. Wildflowers reseed themselves and flower bulbs that naturalize mean an ever-increasing number of flowers.

    Being home has made it possible for me to make gifts for my family for Christmas and their birthdays, usings items I already have, including repurposed items. The sweetest comment I received in the last few months was the one from a woman who said she thought her family was not going to be able to afford to have any Christmas gifts this year, until she saw what I was making using what I have. She then went on to make several things for her family using what she had already. I have had several readers tell me that their homemade gifts this Christmas were the best ones they gave, and that they were their children’s (and one said her husband’s) favorite gifts.

    I receive a lot of comments about how I am positive in the midst of our ever-decreasing income these last 5 years. I practice most everything on the above list, and it works pretty well to help me to be content.

    • says

      This is a great list! Our family’s income dropped by @ $75K/yr when I lost my job, after my daughter was born, 4 years ago. Doing many of the above things, our family has not only been able to survive, but thrive despite the reduced income.

      Honestly, the toughest thing, for me, was to embrace switching from being a career mom to a SAHM. I know many moms choose to be home with their children or many wish they could be. This was a change that was not “my” choice, but I’m so grateful for everything God has allowed me to experience along this journey.

      One more thing I’ve learned about finding contentment….having faith that God will meet your needs. :-)

  4. says

    My roommate and I are very frugal as well (she more than I…but she is rubbing off on me!). We only have our tv hooked up to the dvd player, and we get a lot of dvds and books from the library. We make our coffee here now from fresh roasted organic coffee from a local coffee shop, and it is so good we rarely go to Starbucks anymore. Most of what we buy is second-hand, from clothes to furniture to home accessories and decor. I make our hand soap now from bars of soap. If we do buy things new we stop at the Dollar Store first and have found several things there that are even cheaper than thrift stores (home organization and cleaning tools, for example). We use baking soda and vinegar on dish towels to clean.

    We are the same size so we share clothes as well, which helps with any clothing boredom that may arise. I realize not everyone can do this, but it’s fun for us!

  5. Heather says

    A blog I love is Ourmothersdaughters.blogspot.com. While I am not catholic like they are, it has a very homespun, do it yourself, homey feel and her advice on raising children is great!

  6. Karen Bruce says

    I would add to write a simple note of encouragement or thanks to one person every day. When you change the internal lens from me to them your heart finds its compass and contentment seems to follow. It is simply too hard to be discontented if you make it your habit to be encouraging and grateful.

    • says

      I agree with this completely!! It’s one thing to do what #5 says and write down what you’re grateful for, but it’s another to actually go out and thank people specifically!

  7. Heather says

    Love this post…my only thing that I would add for myself is Forgiveness of Past Mistakes. I painstakingly work at this to quiet that negative voice in my head who doubts me and my going forward on this frugal journey when I have fallen off the budget bandwagon before. Now working to pay off debt is my new joy and staying within my budget is happiness for my heart. We, my hubby and I, have only been at this whole new way of budgeting/living since Jan 1st, but already we have lived well below our budget as I haven’t shopped much in 9 days and we just paid off 1 of 3 of our credit cards yesterday…and paid off 2 lingering medical bills. Feels good to be in control and forgiven.

  8. says

    When we moved over to the other side of the world almost two years ago we decided to only take what would fit in the number of bags allowed by the airline for free. The process of trying to choose only that much stuff was really good. And even though we’ve had to buy things over here and had a few small things shipped since then, we really do find ourselves much more content with less.

  9. Lynn says

    Great ideas! Another one I have is to stay away from sales and deals blogs. Even if an item is cheap or free, some folks when they see a deals think they need to have it, even if it is truly not a need. The more we see (whether at an actual store on online, whether at someone else’s home or on a blog), the more some of us tend to think we need. The Apostle Paul tells us that he LEARNED to be content.

    • Liz says

      Have to agree with you Lynn. I do watch for decent deals on things I need but have limited this and as much as I love using a coupon or getting a free sample, I’m better for leaving it alone more…

    • says

      That is one thing that helps me a bunch. If you are constantly seeing the deals posted all day long you start to feel like you should be getting in on every deal. If I am getting ready to go shopping, I will then search for the deals for that store at that time, but otherwise I pretty much leave it alone.
      I find that by not watching tv (including news and new shows) you remain more content too. I also get tired of seeing all the bad things that go on. I know it happens, I don’t need to see it everyday. It can be very depressing and make a person negative. Often I do not know what the weather will be because I dont’ watch the news.
      Great article to remind us to be more content.

  10. Kristy says

    Great encouragement this morning, Crystal! Great post to read first thing today to set my my mind and heart on my blessings and being content.

  11. says

    I practice a lot of these 16 points and they really do help “except for the one on gardening” I have yet to reap anything but dying plants and lots of good strong healthy weeds! I won’t give up though each year I try again, I am determined that I will inch forward in this area even if it is at a snail’s pace (but in this case of gardening it might be even slower than that)

    • lori says

      I would suggest trying to find an experienced gardening mentor … they can help you figure out what you’re doing wrong. Most gardeners love to share their skill and expertise, and perhaps they can guide you to what will work best in your area. If you don’t know anybody, see if you have a local extension office that could help. Gardening is well worth the effort and although it’s hard work it’s a relaxing and fulfilling hobby.

  12. Sandy says

    Oh, taking the 100 things challenge is very appealling to me. As I get older, I find I could care less about most “things” and could easily give up the majority of what I have. I find myself yearning for a more simplistic life, and after reading the article at the link provided, I so like the idea of Haiku productivity.

    I’ve tried your ideas of eating from the pantry and going on spending fast before and had great results. I always cook from scratch and frequently try new recipes, so I’m already on board with that. I’m definitey printing this list to remind me daily of ways I can improve/enhance my life. I’m so glad you posted this list!

  13. Kari says

    I find I have to stay away from Pinterest sometimes. It can really make you feel so like you need to have or do so much more than you already have or do.

  14. Catherine says

    This is a great post. I’ve been pretty down recently. I stopped working 2 years ago when my second son was born. My husband has a decent job, but at this point, we are paying more for insurance premiums than we do for our house. The cost skyrocketed so much this year that I had to cut my grocery budget. All the while, I watch people with their fancy cars and fancy clothes buy whatever they want. Student loans, expensive insurance, higher taxes….makes it almost not worth going to college to get a good job.

    • Denise says

      Catherine, I know it is hard to watch others that “have” more than we do….but are these things you see paid for? Many times what you are seeing is just debt building. We too pay our own health insurance…..$30,000 per year…..yes $30K for a family of 4. I recently discovered The Prudent Homemaker blog that weekly lets people send in what they did frugally each week. It is a great source for frugal ideas that don’t involve buying things at a great deal. It is more about what you can do to provide for your family….from gardening to making food from scratch to living from your pantry. This is such an inspiring blog for me. Hope it helps you too!

    • Sarah T. says

      Another blog that just posted about where his family’s money goes is http://www.simplefamilyfinance.com. His big thing is eating on $2/day/person. And they did it! Their budget for groceries (2 adults and one toddler) was under 2K and they spent less than $200 on eating out for the entire year. So it can be done.

  15. says

    Love the list! So many simple yet rewarding suggestions. I would like to expand on helping others. Visiting a children’s hospital, homeless shelter, etc. It is wonderful to give of your time, but while there it is so easy to count your blessings, as you will be surrounded by folks who are seriously in need.
    I spent a week during xmas break volunteering at a domestic violence shelter. I was given a room, since it was out of state and lived there. I was very happy to do the tasks assigned to me, and worked all day. I was touched by how the staff served the guests, and blessed by getting to know the ladies and precious children.

  16. says

    Great list, I am always looking for ways to stay motivated. May I also suggest the Tightwad Gazette books by Amy Dacyczyn, some things in the book are a tad extreme, but great way to get you motivated.

  17. Liz says

    Great list and article… I would just add limit your computer and tech time… turn off your phone when you are out or with your family… set a timer, consolidate email accounts, limit facebook to only when you’re on your computer (not on the phone)… it can be so addictive and such a time waster, it’s is great to me more unplugged :) and you find you enjoy things more when you are more present ;)

  18. Karen says

    Take a walk, especially if you have some woods nearby but just walking around the yard is good also. I’m always amazed at how God provides for the needs of the tiniest insects and all the animals. I get so much joy just from watching birds gather food for their young. Put up a birdhouse; you’ll love it.

  19. says

    One of the best books I have ever read on being content is The Art of Divine Contentment by Thomas Watson. Watson was a Puritan writer of many years ago and writes with wisdom and beauty. He is not difficult to read and his style of writing is a delight to the soul.

      • says

        Yes! Another one of my favorites! I actually have a little notebook with notes from both books that I read from each day when doing my devotions. I need daily encouragement in this area!

  20. Jessica says

    I would add, to spend time with children. Color, run around outside, go to the park, play trucks or dress up or tea party. Build with blocks. Bake and eat cookies. These simple pleasures are what they will remember when they are grown up. Not the toys or birthday or Christmas presents.

  21. says

    My husband was set to lose his job in December so I made a lot of our Christmas gifts. Cutting the Christmas budget was very easy when it was a must. I got my children’s gifts off ebay, used but quality. Even if the job status is better next year, I will continue to make more gifts. Fabric key fobs were a hit with the women. Chicken rub was a hit with the guys. Then I did personalized stationery for the little girls and personalized duct tape wallets for the little boys, all with supplies I had on hand. It was a blessing to everyone. :) I am also hoping that our leaner gifts this year will cause others to lessen up on what they spend on us next year. :)

      • says

        Thanks. Yes, I have some alphabet stamps that make it very easy to make monogram notecards. One good alphabet set can go a long ways! You can use stickers but often you don’t get several of one letter…and that’s what you need for making notecard packs. I also use alphabet stamps for scrapbooking titles and more. Some people have die cut machines that can mass produce monograms for notecards too. :)

  22. Emily says

    Wow, your blog posts are hiring the nail on the head!! I love how God uses you to speak to others. I can’t say thank you enough for your practical advice. And I am starting a Frugal Friends group!! So excited. :)

  23. carey says

    Great article Crystal, thank you!! High five to all you said. Another thing that helps me when I am in a slump, is to clean. Simply moping my floors or something like that works wonders for me. The physical energy I put into helps me stop thinking negative thoughts, then when I see clean floors it makes me feel so good inside and much more content with our house. Then when I see my floors look so good, it usually motivates me to keep going.

    I really want to echo what you said also about reading only blogs, books that fit where you are right now. Recently I have felt my focus is all over the place and I know that is a result of my random reading. I love learning all types of things, but I need to pace myself. Otherwise I will get burnt out of everything before I have had a chance to improve in one thing.

    • carey says

      One example I wanted to give is that my husband and I are seriously considering homeschooling our son next year. So right now I am doing lots of research on it, and I am learning a ton. But trying to learn how to create a quilt from scratch may not be a good thing to learn at the same time :) So balance is important, and that’s what I was trying to describe :)

  24. says

    Thank you for another inspirational post – this is my new favorite blog! I would also add take a walk or do some other outdoor exercise. The combination of exercise and fresh air never fails to clear my head and bring me peace.

  25. Willma says

    This is a great post and couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for me. In my church we have a resolution called “my one word” where you pick one word and you work on it all year to apply it to every aspect of your life and what you want to become. My word this year is “Simplify”. I want to simplify not only my everyday life but my life as a whole so that I can stop and smell the roses more often than I do now. I have realized I’m tired of buying things that we really don’t need but just want. I don’t expect my children to jump on board 100% but I’m hoping that I can teach them some sort of value in wants and needs along the way. You should check out the website about my one word, google it, it’s really a powerful thing if you can commit to it. Thanks for the post, it was exactly what I needed to read this morning.

  26. says

    Great ideas about planting the garden and doing crafts with your hands. I need to do both. :) How many quilts have I started (and not finished)… let me count the ways! LOL. That would be a great challenge for this year: finishing handcrafted projects. (Challenging for me anyway.) :)

  27. Mandy W. says

    Great list! I can personally testify that #2 (Shop Less) and #5 (Gratitude List) can make big differences.

  28. says

    I used to hate being at home when I worked outside the home. I always was discontent at home and felt since I worked I needed to do fun things and not just be at home. That was almost 12 years ago and now I really don’t like to be away from home. I love spending time at home. I am very content now. I only go out to shop for groceries usual one day a week for fresh items.
    I have time to learn new skills. I have rubbed off on my daughter and she is now researching and learning new things on her own. I love that she has learned the skill of self teaching so early.

    I think we practice most of the points you have listed at our home it took us a while to get to the point we are at now but it is so nice. I am working this year on getting our stuff under control and only have what we truly love and enjoy in our home. I think by getting the clutter under control our home will only be that more inviting to all of us and our guests.

  29. Bethany F says

    Can’t agree more with watching less TV. I promise, you won’t miss it once you pull the plug, and you’ll be amazed at how much time you added to your day. Plus, let’s just be honest, most of the stuff on TV isn’t worth watching anyways.

  30. Esther says

    I couldn’t agree more with your list! I work outside the home 4 days a week and I find that I spend more money on those days–coffee, lunches, errands etc. On the weekends and my day off, I stay home with the kids. We may venture to the library or the park, but I’m so happy and content at home–and there’s no reason to spend money since we have what we need! I also recently took up knitting again which is great for keeping my hands busy in the evenings while watching tv with my husband. Once I focus on what I really want for me and for my family, all of the outside noise goes away and my own contentment really shines through. Thanks for the great post!

  31. Guest says

    When you’re feeling discontent about not being able to buy something or go do something, take some time to reflect on what you have accomplished and what you are working toward. We were fairly hardcore about expenses for a couple of years and it was easy to get down that we couldn’t do such and such or buy this or that. I would make a list (as in actually writing it on paper) of what we had paid off and look at how close we were to paying off the next thing. It was very motivating!

  32. says

    This is a great list and spot on what I need to hear right now. We are working hard to pay off debt this year. I sometimes wonder if we should get out more, but we do save a lot of money by staying home and being content with what we have.

  33. Doretta says

    I will never forget the wisdom shared by a friend. He said, “we become discontent because we choose to compare ourselves with others who have more than we do. Why can’t we intentionally compare ourselves with those who have less?” That has made a dramatic difference in my perspective of stuff & things. :)

  34. says

    What a fantastic post and so darn true. I especially love the point about surrounding yourself with like-minded people. I think that has helped shape me so much over the years.

    I am so happy to see my book in a stack with such great company :) Thank you so much for mentioning my site in your list of ideas to live a more contented life! xoxo