You have enemies as you try to live as a content man. Most of the time we think the enemies are from without—people around us and circumstances upon us. But the true enemies of contentment are within in us, which is where contentment is either fed or starved.
At the heart of contentment is an embrace of the present and a willingness to enjoy the good things we have right now. These enemies distract us from the present and prompt us to either idolize or demonize our past and future. We either worship or hate the past or future, but doing so makes it impossible to embrace the glory of the contented life.
The following 6 assassins are at work within you to destroy your enjoyment of the life God has given you...
Sometimes we should regret things. If we make bad decisions, if we hurt other people, we need to acknowledge our mistakes and feel their weight. But some men allow their regrets to turn into a cancer of self-loathing that undermines their ability to make balanced and healthy stories out of their lives.
In the words of Don Draper, nostalgia is “delicate, but potent. It’s a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone.” It recalls to mind the successes and joys of the past, while suffocating our ability to enjoy the present. Our lives can never escape the unrealistic burden of having to measure where we are now according to a standard set a year or decade ago.
Some people are so consumed by their fear of what will come tomorrow that they are paralyzed today. They worry that if they enjoy something too much, they will be devastated if it goes away. As a result, they are always hedging their bets, always pulling back at the last second from the edge of truly enjoying life. Their fear becomes a self-fulfilling cycle of discontentment.
To have vision for the future is a good thing, but some men become blind to the present. They can’t appreciate what they have now because they’re waiting to achieve the goals that will finally turn their life around. These men are greyhounds chasing the rabbit around a track with no finish line.
Multitasking spreads our attention across many activities, but keeps us from fully engaging any of them. There is no sense of completion for the multitasker because there is always something undone. When we multitask we don’t give ourselves fully to anything. Instead, we give some of ourselves to everything. This nullifies the reward of of seeing one thing to the end.
Busyness is doing all the things that we are responsible for, but hurriedness is the frantic mental and emotional state we experience that accompanies our busyness. Hurried people can’t celebrate (which is the secret sauce of contentment) because they are focused on the next thing on their to-do list.
These assassins are deadly because they hide in the inner recesses of our hearts and enable us to have a certain degree of productivity. But the victory is short-lived.
Contentment is the fuel for a life well-lived.