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Happiness: Contentment and Thankfulness

When Doug and I got married in May 2003 we were very intentional about our choice in a home. Rather than max out our financial resources, we chose to live very simply in a small, but charming 1926 Sears kit house.

You may have heard of these “kit houses” – they were, literally, house kits sold through a Sears catalog. They were shipped by train, and arrived with lumber, nails, and assembly instructions. It’s as solid as a rock, well-built, cozy – and by 2006 standards – pretty tight quarters, even for newlyweds.

We love this little, old house with the big, tall trees. But, it was an adjustment, living in a house as small as this one which, by the way, was “target- rich” for some upgrades – to the kitchen and to the bathroom (notice – only one bathroom!)

Who lives without a dishwasher? Who can get by with only about 3 feet of counter space? How can I live without cathedral ceilings, multiple built-in ovens, a wine cabinet, two sinks, granite countertops, and separate offices for every member of the family?

I could feel my growing discontentment – my dissatisfaction taking over – my covetousness growing like a big, ugly green monster. With the Lord’s help, I got hold of myself and decided I was NOT going to let this evil overtake me!

By golly - we were living within our means in a simply delightful home, in an old-fashioned neighborhood, in a darling historic town in rural Maryland – where people strolling past our front porch on their way to the post office every morning smile, wave, and exchange pleasantries.

Over the course of the next 2 years, I became absolutely content – thrilled that I didn’t have all that extra square footage to keep clean and organized!

I got used to the kitchen and the old, but still working appliances. We were doing just fine – happy with our simple living. We chose not to focus on the trappings of the latest and greatest “stuff” that too often takes a person’s joy captive – leaving them with nothing but dissatisfaction, frustration, and a feeling of always needing more.

Then one day the old refrigerator finally gave out. It coughed, sputtered, and just flat stopped. This was the moment I’d been waiting for – the opportunity (well, the need) to go shop for a new “ice box!”

We decided on a basic, regular model – freezer on top, no ice or water dispensers in the door - nothing fancy – but I am still doing the happy dance about this simple little necessity! Who cares that it’s too tall to fit into the spot where the old refrigerator stood and we had to put it in the dining room. It’s sparkly and new, and purrs like a kitten!

I had to wonder if I would have derived so much excitement and pleasure out of the task of “just” buying a refrigerator had I not learned to be content with the very basics of life.

This whole experience has taught me a great lesson –

contentment and thankfulness are the rich soil where true happiness takes root.

By practicing contentment every day in the little things, rather than longing for “something more,” we can find ourselves living each day with the childlike joy and wonder we thought we’d lost many years ago.

Visit LifeHouse Coaching to sign up for "Blueprints for a Dream Life" and receive Edi Sowers' free weekly articles, coaching tips, and special offers. Edi works with women business owners who work at home and face the arduous challenge of balancing their personal and professional priorities in order to build their dream life.

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