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Finding contentment while managing the daily grind

Have you ever been slighted with feelings of guilt for acknowledging your progress or taking a break to relish in your newest accomplishment? Have you had family members, mentors or your own thoughts focus on "What's next?" after reaching a milestone or small goal that is a part of a larger goal?

In American society we find ourselves immersed in the daily grind, hoping to get ahead of the pressures both perceived and real including financial responsibilities, social, familial and work related expectations and make progress towards accomplishing our own goals. It's no surprise that it is difficult to find time to reflect in the midst of juggling everything else.

The hustle and bustle is embedded in our societal belief system and has become synonymous with "effective adulting" for many of America's working aged population. Statistics show that working more than 50 hours a week has the ability to significantly increase anxiety and depression. And more than 60% of Americans report not having a work/life balance. The cumulative effect of the daily grind and juggling of roles and responsibilities leaves most of us feeling like we cannot afford the privilege of slowing down without risking losing focus and "dropping the ball" in one way or the other.

Taking on these beliefs add to a cycle of self-deprecation, causing people to undervalue their abilities, well-being, and accomplishments. I want to highlight the benefits of forfeiting the idea that your small and big wins are not worthy of acknowledgment.

How to find contentment while navigating the daily grind

Contentment is defined as a state of satisfaction. Many hear the word content and feel that if they allow themselves to relish in content they will cease making progress. I beg to differ. Let's take the analogy of two students pursuing an advanced educational degree. If we have one student that takes the time to acknowledge their skills acquired at the end of the school semester and that student feels satisfied with their final grades they are usually more motivated to continue the process than the student that does not reflect on their progress or check their grades. Let's apply the same theory to our daily life.

  1. Check in with yourself daily and highlight your progress. Of course your mind will go to the things you could have done better. Be cognizant to identify your wins on a daily basis. Remind yourself of your 'why' and point out how today's efforts match that. It's not important to have a long list, just name one thing. Any progress is still progress. A step in the right direction is still a step, no matter how small or big.

  2. Allocate 5 mins of your day JUST FOR YOU. Throughout the day we can easily lose sight of ourselves as we show up for our children, partners, social groups, families of origin and workplaces. Do your best to make some time for yourself as well. Do some deep breathing, stretching, or listen to a song that fills you with positive emotions. Let this be a way to nourish yourself on a daily basis!

  3. Breathe! Deep breathing is proven to help us manage our stress levels and to keep us grounded in the present moment. Inhale fully to a count of 3, hold it for 2 seconds, and exhale to the count of 5. Do 2-3 of these after completing tasks throughout the day! Affirm these moments of deep breathing with "I deserve to take this breath".

Be sure not to confuse contentment with complacency. Complacency is the sense of "I have arrived, there is nothing more for me to do". As complacency deserves to be sifted through and challenged, contentment deserves to be embraced!

Sending love and light,

Tiana Beard, LMFT

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