Friday, 5 April 2019

Teaching and Modeling Contentment

I have a 4 (almost 5) year old who has begun to notice the differences between our lives and the lives of those around us.  She has started to notice when people have larger houses than us or different/better toys.  Every once in a while she will wistfully say "I wish we had a house/car/toy like that".

I have worked very hard in the last few years to learn how to practice gratitude for where we are in our life.  I have never really been into comparing the things I have with the things that others have and neither has my husband.  Keeping up with others hasn't been our priority.   Our financial and personal goals have outweighed the want to have all the fancy/expensive items.  We simply can't have both and we choose to stick to our goals.

In the past, however, I would shop when I was feeling stressed or down.  I love clothes and home decor and this is where I normally would spend my money.  I did a no-spend year and forced myself to learn better self-care techniques so that I wasn't spending money every time I felt unhappy.

One of the self-care techniques that has been powerful is gratitude.  Taking the time to think of all that I have to be thankful for can really help me to stop the urge to spend money.  I have to remind myself that the clothes I have are perfectly good and don't need to be replaced.  I am content to use what I own.

When my daughter mentions something that she wishes she had, I stop and remind her of all that we do have.  We have many people in our lives who have larger or newer homes than ours.  When my daughter "wishes" for a bigger house I remind her that our house does all the things that we need it to do.  Our house keeps us safe and warm.  It protects us from the elements.  It doesn't have to be fancy or new to do those things.  Most importantly, our house contains our family and that really is the most important thing.  When reminded of all the things our house does for us, my daughter usually responds with "Yeah, I love our house".

Envy is a normal human emotion, but we can teach our children how to grateful for what they have.  I don't feel guilty for not "giving everything" to my children.  My children need their needs met and love.  My husband and I do those things for them.  Everything else is icing on the cake.  Our goal is to raise children who understand that things do not create happiness.  Contentment leads to a much more peaceful life.

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