My kids and I spent a month this summer living with their grandparents. There were cousins to play with, a new puppy, cable and On Demand, and a gorgeous pool out back. Popsicles appeared every 30 minutes and fruit snacks abounded. My children were living the high life and they knew it.
At one point during an especially fun swim time, my son whined to me, “Mom, I wish we had a pool”.
I kind of agreed with him. But I didn’t want to him to miss out on the joy of the perfectly buoyant moment he was experiencing by detouring down Discontentment Drive. So I asked, “are you having a good time right now?”
“Well, just keep enjoying yourself, and don’t even think about it.”
It’s amazing how quickly and easily discontentment creeps in, even when you are having the time of your life.
No one brings their new little life home desiring to raise a bratty, malcontent monster who stomps her foot and shouts “I want a pony,” and “Daddy, give me more” like Veruka Salt in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It is so ugly, especially in children.
The attitude of discontentment needs to be nipped in the bud before it turns you into the complainer no one wants to be around.
I once heard that the cure for discontentment is a thankful heart.
How do you have a thankful heart? By focusing on all the things you have to be thankful for right now.
So what does having a thankful heart look like when the ugly “I want more” monster creeps in?
To me It looks like a crossing guard holding a “STOP” sign up in my face. Forcing me to pause and realize I’m on a dangerous path and desperately need to re-direct my thoughts. To STOP focusing on what I DON’T have, and instead look at all that I DO have.
You can use simple questions to re-direct a malcontent moment.
Son: “I wish I had the Blue Ninja Lego set.”
Parent: “What are your three most favorite sets that you have right now?”
Daughter: “All my friends are going to Disney. I wish we could go to Disney.”
Parent: “What are some of the most fun things you have ever gotten to do?”
Training your brain to get off the detour down Discontentment Drive and redirecting it up Appreciation Avenue is going to take you to the Land of Contentment: where you’re happy with what you’ve got because you realize you’ve got a lot to be happy about.