Home » Blogs » Adventures in Positive Psychology » It’s Not What You Have But How You See it: How to Live With Contentment

It’s Not What You Have But How You See it: How to Live With Contentment

Have you ever noticed that the more you have the more you want?

Let’s face it. Seeing our life as good enough doesn’t come naturally for many people any longer.

We live in a mixed-up and crazy culture where it’s an ongoing commitment to temper greed, jealousy and ambition for more. We always have the options to have more, learn more and do more.

One key to living with contentment is to realize the difference between needs and wants. We allow our desires and wants to take over our motivation until we begin to believe that we really need to live a life of consumption and materialism.

As we gain awareness of this conditioning we can learn to alter our perspective to one that will offer more satisfaction with life.

Here are a few ideas to help you be happier with what you have and who you are:

Practice Gratitude – Most people want things to be better than they are, or when things are going well, we forget to appreciate what we have. Learn to reflect on how much better things are than they could be. Focus on what you are thankful for. Write down 5 things you are grateful for right now.

Let go of regrets – When we hold onto regrets from decisions we have made, it can really poison our well-being. Many people regret something they can no longer change, which ends up holding them back from moving forward in a more positive manner. What happened in the past is done and gone, so work to stay present and mindful of the current moment to find more joy and fulfillment.

Expect less and accept more – Sometimes what we want to have or expect to be the case isn’t so. When we have high expectations for everything in life we will ultimately run into disappointment. Learn to accept those things you can’t change, whether it’s about you or someone else in your life. What in your life is difficult to accept and causing you distress? Work on this one thing as a means to begin controlling expectations.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others – When we use other people as the measuring stick for our personal success and quality of life we are likely to be less satisfied. Social comparisons can provide useful information when we try to learn from others, but they also hold our perspective in a discontented position. Compare yourself less so you can be satisfied more.

Make time for simple pleasures – When you are focused on your big ambitions and future goals you might neglect the daily pleasures that surround you. Learn to slow down and absorb the wonder and beauty around you. Stay present and focus on the task you’re doing in that moment. Don’t let the life pass you by because you’re always on the go and distracted by ambition.

Learn to embrace where you are in your life right now. No matter where you want to be, don’t overlook the joy and fulfillment you can partake in today. I know this can be difficult but take a few minutes today to slow down, reflect on the positive things in your life, and appreciate your talents and strengths.

Practice looking at life through this lens of contentment and it will become more natural.

It’s Not What You Have But How You See it: How to Live With Contentment

Joe Wilner

Joe Wilner is a life coach, licensed clinical psychotherapist (LCP), and drummer from the band Yes You Are. He is also creator of You Have a Calling, a blog and online community helping people discover and pursue their life’s work and mission. Through deep and personalized coaching, he helps ambitious, creative, and spiritually minded individuals make a greater impact, grow as leaders, and design a soulful life they are inspired by.

2 comments: View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Wilner, J. (2012). It’s Not What You Have But How You See it: How to Live With Contentment. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2020, from


Last updated: 8 May 2012
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.