zen habits : breathe

The Contentment Habit

By Leo Babauta

I’ll admit I do it as much as anyone else: see the cool things that others are doing and wish I were doing something cool like that too.

You see great travel photos on Instagram and other social media — people living amazing lives, creating cool things, going on adventures. And instantly, there’s the thought that you should be living a better life.

But this is the wrong habit. It leads to a feeling that your life isn’t good enough, that you aren’t good enough. And the habit doesn’t end: if you pursue a better life, you will always feel that you should be doing more, partying more, creating more, learning more, reading more, traveling more. You can’t possibly do it all, but you’ll always wish you were.

So what’s a better habit? The contentment habit.

What I’ve been learning is that happiness and contentment and greatness isn’t out there. It’s not where everyone else is, even if it seems like it. You can spend your whole life chasing this happiness, contentment, dreams, greatness, coolness, and never reach it. That’s because it’s right where you are now.

Before we talk about that, let’s look at the habits that most of us do.

The Discontentment Habits

Tell me if these habits sound familiar:

If you find yourself doing any of these things — and I’d bet $1,000 that you do them more than you realize — then it’s a good time to think about whether that habit will ever end, and if it will bring you happiness.

The answer to both questions is no — those habits don’t have an end, and they don’t bring happiness or contentment.

The Contentment Habit

When you catch yourself doing those discontentment habits, by being mindful of your feelings and thoughts during the day … try this instead:

That’s the contentment habit, and you can do it anytime, anyplace, no matter what you’re doing or who you’re with. It is free, always available, always miraculous. And it never ends.



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