Cultivating Gratitude and Contentment

So often I find myself fantasizing about the the past or the future and all the ways it could have been different, imagining beautifully-orchestrated, stage-worthy scenes that play(ed) out without a single hitch, all according to my personal wants and desires. 

Scenes with breaktaking views and really good food and friends who want to hang out whenever I want them to and perfect family dynamics and a handsome man who takes me on really fun dates and a perfect wardrobe hanging in my closet and maybe even perfect argument last-words (ouch).

But real life isn't a movie set. It's messy. 

And we don't always get what we want.

I'm [slowly] learning that I can either use those moments to see only despair and what I don't have, or that I can drop the fantasy and develop more gratitude and contentment for what I do have. And I usually find that when I let go of the fairytale and embrace real life, what I do have is actually pretty good.

It's all a matter of choosing the right lens to look through.

So how can we get intentional about adjusting our focus? Here are a few of my ideas:

  • Keep a gratitude journal and make a point to regularly list things that you're thankful for.

  • Take fairytale thoughts captive whenever they pop up and pray to shift your mindset.

  • Take and print photos of the people, places, and moments you treasure most in your life. (My good friend Treacy Mize of Cedar and Grace has taught me SO much about the link between photography and gratefulness.) 
  • Intentionally spend time with the people or participate in the events you're blessed to have in your life, and soak it all in for a day to reset your heart.

What are your favorite ways to cultivate gratitude and contentment in your own life? Leave your best recommendations below.