Sunday, November 29, 2015

Enjoying a Satisfied Life

Cheers to being Content & Satisfied
I can't say I've spent much time thinking about stress. I wouldn't say I'm a person that has suffered from it much as a general statement. Either I was taught, or intuitively knew, how to manage it. For me, when I felt agitated (which is how I experience stress) I simply go for a walk or run, write in my journal, talk with friends/family, or it's a matter of seeking information to illuminate the fear around the worry. 

When I reflect on my life, I consider the things that have kept me up at night. They sit on two opposite spectrums:

(A) I have laid awake at night with worries about money. How to pay all the bills. How to save what was needed. How to do everything a person wants to do. How to get out of debt.

 (B)
I have also laid awake at night overwhelmed by love, excitement, and uncertainty about what lies ahead.

In both cases, I had to recognize that there is only so much a human being can control. In the end, I suspect most of our stress in life lies around our inability to control circumstances in our lives. (Or....is a result of us making purchases around "what we think we deserve" versus what we've actually earned.) 

I apologize if this is a disconnected string of thoughts around stress. Recently a friend of mine shared with me this TedxUlaanbaatar talk about stress. It's presented by a young Mongolian man that traveled the world inquiring about stress--where it comes from and how we deal with it (or not)--from diverse countries and cultures. There are a couple of things he mentions that struck me. First, that countries that have a high amount of entertainment correlate directly to a high incidence of stress (Japan and USA being two of them). He also talks about drug/alcohol use/abuse as a way to deal with stress. 

The day after I watched this talk, I continued to think about stress. At this point in my life I experience a minimal amount of stress. I live with an overwhelming feeling of peace and serenity and my worries are minimal and short-lived. What exactly offers this situation? First, I have a loving, patient, and supportive spouse. I have a loving and caring family--both here in Mongolia and across the ocean. I have a purposeful job that provides a wage that allows me to pay my bills, have fun, and save for the future.  I have a warm and comfortable, though not extravagant, home. I have a network of friends that support me as well as participate in fun and celebrations with me. 

 
Yes, when I take a moment to look at Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, it becomes apparent that perhaps for the first time in my life, the bottom four layers are fully met. 

And beyond that, I am not weighed down by the hurry-up-and-achieve attitude that I feel permeates American culture. As soon as an individual gets a job or a degree, people begin to ask about the next step, the next degree or certification. As soon as you marry, then people ask about the house you will buy or the children you will have. If you run a 5K, then you will be asked about the 10K or marathon you will run next. There is this continual push to be climbing a mountain or a ladder. What is our aversion to simply being content? Being satisfied? Just Being? 

You see, this struck me clearly and directly one night this week. I came home from work on Tuesday and began to make dinner. In the U.S. I felt that making dinner was an act to be rushed or hurried through.....make the food, eat the food.....and get on to what's next on the list. The next scheduled task. That is not true of my life in Mongolia. I do have to get up and go to work five days a week, but outside of that I have very few obligations or schedules. Mongolians do not schedule more than a day or two out, generally speaking. They make their days up as they go, following their feelings, interest, and the opportunities that arise. 

As I peeled, sliced, and seasoned potatoes, I found incredible joy in the simple act of making food for myself and my loved one. Once the potatoes were in the oven, I cooked bacon and then the burgers. I flipped the potatoes. I put the bacon on, and melted cheese over it all. I listened to music and sipped a little wine. Zorig was busy in the living room on the computer, though we enjoyed bits of conversation here and there. When the meal was ready, we ate. 

This life is about satisfaction. About enjoying the simple acts of life and love. When was the last time you felt content? That you did not feel pushed to provide the NEXT something.....? 

 

4 comments:

  1. I don't know that I've ever felt relieved of that pressure, though admittedly much of it is self-created. I've never been good at being settled into life physically or mentally. And I'm pretty sure that has been both a source of great joy and sorrow in my life. Thanks for sharing and reminding me that I should give contentment a try.

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    1. EJ--You are absolutely correct. Anything we choose to suffer from is self-created, self-inflicted, or self-allowed. Free will is a lovely gift.....but one that is not always easy to wield with grace and intention. And we unfortunately get sucked into the herd mentality by nature of being a human living within a society. Thanks for sharing!!

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  2. HJ, you have captured my life contentment. It is so wonderful to just be happy and excited in what one is doing - liking ones work and friends. My only two concerns are money security and my health. I enjoy four wonderful!!!!! children and living and working in the 17 hundreds. Thanks for blog entry! One of your best!!!

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    1. Thanks, Mom! Yes, it is a great space to live within. I am loving this life in Mongolia with Zorig & Enji. Thanks for supporting me every step of the journey to get here. Love you.

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