How many people do you know who are content? Genuinely happy with their lives overall. Are you? I am, but I had to learn to be. And that’s not to say that every aspect of my life is a bowl of cherries, but I distinguish contentment from complacency. The former has to do with being at peace with the circumstances as they exist (although it doesn’t mean that there’s no room for improvement). The latter involves being pleased with the situation without being aware of its associated defects (implying a lack of insight). Few people can legitimately say that every aspect of their lives is fabulous for any extended period of time, but you should — at a minimum — be satisfied with your life and your choices on balance. If you’re not, how are other people to be? It’s basically cliche to say, “If you don’t like it, change it,” but we live in an era in which change is easier to implement than in any other time. So stop with the excuses.
You might’ve guessed that I have a lot to say about contentment, but let’s focus this Blog Number 4 on one of the physical aspects: Our homes. Where do you live? Do you love it? If so, yay for you! You can skip the rest of this Blog and take a stroll through your beautiful home with your favorite beverage and an added sense of appreciation. We are happy for you. Truly. But if you have anything less than pride and admiration for your home, keep reading because this Blog is for you.
Firstly, regardless of the “structure” of your home (i.e., apartment, studio, loft, townhouse, tenement, dorm room, shanty, duplex, trailer, house), start off with gratitude for having a place that you may call “home.” Secondly, stop comparing your home to other people’s. Television and other media outlets have contributed to many folks believing that their home isn’t “good” enough, no matter how good it is. I’m so glad that Robin Leach’s Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous television show is off the air because it made 99.8% of its viewers feel like paupers in comparison. My Mommy would say that there are always people who have more than you and people who have less, so be happy with what you have. How true that is.
My family moved a lot when I was growing up. I still moved a lot as an adult for my studies, career, and relationships. I’ve lived in a range of different types of homes, from those I was enamored of to those that I was ashamed of. Okay, there was only one home that I was actually ashamed of living in. It was when I was in middle school and it was a huge Victorian home in a historic section of the town we lived in. To give you context, it was built in the 1800’s and one of the houses on our same street had been Civil War General Robert E. Lee’s home. Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Although it looked beautiful on the outside, the inside of our house was in dire need of refurbishment. But we moved in anyway, with my parents thinking that we’d live in half of the house while the other half was being renovated. The first stage of the renovations started right away: Demolition. The second stage (repair and restoration) didn’t. As such, we didn’t have any guests over. Ever. The whole five years we lived in that Victorian home, I can’t remember having anyone other than my grandparents visit (which was rarely). That was a tremendous change from our previous residences when my parents hosted many luncheons, card-, dinner-, and cocktail-parties and we kids felt free to have friends come over to play. I once panicked when a friend asked if she could come to my house after school and wait for her mom to pick her up. I didn’t want her to think I was mean, but there was no way I was going to let her see inside our yucky house. I made up some excuse.
I consider those Victorian Home years as wasted opportunities. We missed out on a lot from not inviting others into our home. I’m talking about playing, entertaining, and socializing. People reciprocate when you extend invitations, and don’t if you don’t. (As one who now frequently entertains, I know this to be true). Upon reflection, our Victorian home wasn’t entirely bad. There was one portion in which the renovations had been completed, but I hated the whole house and couldn’t objectively see any of the beauty it possessed. What about you? How do you feel about your home? Are you comfortable inviting people over? Why or why not? Can you create one area in which to host friends or colleagues? We’re not talking about preparing for a full spread in Architectural Digest, but a card table and folding chairs in one room will do. The focus should be on the fellowship and not on the physical.
Sharing your home with people you care about promotes living your best life. Are you in the habit of entertaining others in your home? When’s the last time you had a dinner party? Game night? Holiday meal? Movie night? Play date? We as a society have gotten into the habit of entertaining outside of our homes, but there’s something extra special that occurs when you host people inside your home. It is warmer, more intimate. Try it. The third step in developing contentment regarding your home is to refrain from complaining about it. The fourth step in learning to love where you live is to invite people over to your home and socialize with them.
Do you still have excuses as to why you cannot entertain in your home? Can’t cook? No money? Want to wait until you fix your home, or get new furniture, or get a bigger house? Or, or, or… You get the picture. Stop trying to “keep up with the Joneses,” and be proud of your [imperfect] home the way it is. As long as you clean it before having guests over, it’ll be a lovely event and you’ll be happy that you took the opportunity to share your space in this world. Love where you live and it’ll give the people who care about you a chance to love it — and you — too.