Burning My Retinas
I have this thing where I like to stare directly at the sun. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the blinky spots it leaves on my eyes. Maybe it’s the allure of doing something that could possibly destroy my retinas.
Anyway, I don’t do it all that often seeing as I do value my retinas a little bit. (That and my husband gave me a good talking to when he found out I was staring at the sun like an idiot.)
Eye Love the Sun
But I really do love watching the sunset (and looking just to the side of the sun for eye-safety purposes). Almost every evening when driving home from work, my eyes well up with emotion from the sunset. It makes me feel small and reverent. It makes me see God. And if I’ve had a barely tolerable day, it helps me overcome.
Recently, I was driving home and the sunset about knocked me out. The sky was almost entirely covered in clouds, but there were streams of red light shining through. The beams created a lava-red lining on the clouds. It looked like the inside of an inverted volcano with patches of hardened floating magma. I could almost see Gollum reaching his hand up trying to catch the ring of power.
I digress. The point is: Have you ever noticed that you have to be far off to see the sunset? The most beautiful part of the day happens after the day is over when we are far removed from the source.
And it got me thinking – that’s kinda how life is.
A Shift in Perspective
In the middle of summer when the sun in blistering your skin and making you ruin your clothes with your own sweat, it’s hard to see the sun’s usefulness. We gripe, complain, seek shade and pray for cloud cover. We certainly aren’t trying to find contentment with our sunny circumstances.
Ah, but when the sun sets, we think it is the most awe-inspiring, magnificent thing. When it sets, we remember the sun is our source or life.
In the moment, it’s difficult to experience things as they really are. It’s hard to find contentment. But with reflection, true beauty emerges. The most beautiful parts of life are realized after the fact, after the learning, after the pain, after the success.
And with willing eyes, any situation can be beautiful. It’s perspective, after all. Try to watch the sunset at noon. It won’t work. Shift perspective and give it time. Come 6 or 7 or 8 pm, that thing is gonna sweep you away.
So, for all of you live lives and struggle to find contentment right where you are, here are three ways to remember life is good, even when it seems bad.
3 Ways to Find Contentment When Life Seems Bad
Pay Attention to the Sky
We already went over this, but seriously. Pay attention to the sky. It changes every day, never looks the same twice, and is perpetually striking. It is never boring, yet it’s a normal part of everyday life. It’s a great reminder that ordinary things are fantastic. Your normal life is sufficient. Embrace it. Find contentment in it!
I carry a pocket-sized gratitude journal with me everywhere. Whenever I feel blessed by something, I write it down. Every month I reflect on the things I was grateful for and I pick out my thankfulness themes.
(You can read my latest reflection, here.)
This helps me better understand myself, my circumstances and my life. It also allows me to set goals based on how far I’ve come and where I want to go.
Practicing Gratitude also helps with that perspective shift we were talking about. When you pay attention to your blessings, you suddenly notice so many more, and you realize what you have is enough.
Maintain a Routine
Why do people dislike life transitions, crazy days at work and piles of dirty laundry? All of these things lack structure, and people (as much as they like to crow about spontaneity and risk-taking) thrive on structure.
If you want to find contentment in your life, put real effort into maintaining a routine. Wake up at a similar time each day, get 6-10 hours of sleep, eat at regular meal times. Do the simple things that make life run more smoothly.
(Check out these 4 simple keystone habits to align your entire day.)
If you’re looking to start some new habits or ditch some old ones, I have just the thing for you! Click below to get my free mini-course: 7 Practical Ways to Build Healthy Habits.
It’s not easy to love your life right where you are, but it is possible. With a little bit of willingness and a change in perspective, your Wholly Unimpressive life can be a lovely place – no world travel or soul-searching or staring directly at the sun necessary.