12 Ways to Be Content

If you struggle with being content in your circumstances, or just want to increase the level of contentment that you already have, here are twelve suggestions.

They are taken from the classic book by Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. I read it every few years and gain something new each time.

1. Fill your soul with grace

All the tricks and tools won’t do you any good if you don’t get a grip on your heart. Let grace be the ballast in your boat. Think about grace, notice grace, receive grace.

2. Keep a loose grip on the world

Eventually, whatever you’re involved with will bring trouble and thorns. Choose carefully where you set your ego. Don’t connect your identity with circumstances.

3. Be sure this is where you’re supposed to be

Occasionally double-check your physical and spiritual GPS. When you are where God has called you, you can be quiet and content even when you meet with trouble.

4. Play fair

Whatever your work is, go by the rules. Be ethical. Seek to serve, not to be served. Stay within God’s boundaries for his protection. You’ll sleep better at night when your conscience is clear.

5. Live by faith

Never forget God’s promise that all things work for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). Exercise your faith by believing his truths.

6. Think spiritually

Meditate on things above (Colossians 3:1). Go higher. Talk more with God. Rise above the snakes that crawl below.

7. Be realistic

Don’t expect the world’s material blessings to fall at your doorstep. Don’t promise yourself different things than God promises you.

8. Die to the world daily

If your heart is dead to the world, you won’t be tossed about by its upheavals. Let your happiness come from outside the world.

9. Don’t dwell on heartaches

Dwell instead on things that comfort you. Thank God often for his mercies.

10. Reframe the past in God’s favor

“Make a good interpretation of God’s ways toward you.”

There are many interpretations you can put on an event. Choose the truthful one, the one that shows God’s glory. Love thinks no evil.

11. Don’t depend on others’ interpretations

Comparison kills. Do you think your wealth is small because you measure it by America’s yardstick?

“Oh, do not let your happiness depend on the fancies of other men.”

12. Don’t get too comfortable with comforts.

When you have comforts, enjoy them, but don’t become dependent upon them. That way you won’t fall apart if one day they are removed.

* * *

Do you struggle with being content? Which of these 12 ways do you want to try? Please share in the comments.

revised from the archives

14 thoughts on “12 Ways to Be Content

  1. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Great post, Lisa.

    I’d add this – “It’s not about you.” Life is far more about your obligations and responsibilities to others than it is about your own rights.

    If you have material blessings, they’re yours to use wisely to help those who are in need; and if you’re dying slowly and painfully, as I am, you still have the responsibility to give others grace and encouragement.

    Seen through this lens, the bad things don’t seem unfair, and the good things aren’t a reward for ‘being good’. They’re simply parts of a creation in which faith is a choice, and in which there’s only as much love as we’re willing to give.


  2. Linda Stoll

    And be thankful, overflowing with gratitude, always looking for another praise to offer the One who gives us contentment that no one else can even begin to touch.

    Yes, yes, Lisa. Thanks for this gentle reminder. God knows we need it often …

  3. Barbara Harper

    The last one is most convicting to me at this moment. I can get pretty low if the power goes out, even though people have lived without electricity for years. I can even get pretty irritated if I am out of my favorite beverage or snack. I don’t consider myself to be materialistic, but I am ways that aren’t obvious.

  4. Lesley

    These are great tips, Lisa! I especially like number 3 “Be sure this is where you’re supposed to be.” It’s so important to follow God’s plan for us, and I think that does bring contentment. Otherwise it’s too easy to get drawn into comparing ourselves to others, which is definitely not a place of contentment!

  5. Char

    Lisa, I think for me it’s all about keeping my eyes set on what God has for MY life. What others are doing can’t shake me or I’ll fall apart. I learned this long ago when I was sooooo poor staying home with the kids and others had every cute gadget. I had to trust God for our life. I still deal with a bit of envy but its not for stuff – its more for other’s accomplishments.

  6. Jean Wise

    Love this list. Shared it too. I am impressed you reread this book as often as you do but after reading the list I can see why. Worth writing in my journal and on my rule of life to “check” myself periodically too. #3 reminded of a retreat I was on and reading the story of Hagar. The first time she ran into the desert, God asked her Who are you and where are you going? I use those words often to frame my conversations with God. Who am I, where am i right now and where am I going. Great post, Lisa

  7. Karen Woodall

    I was just talking with my daughter about the the verse that Paul wrote that instructs us to “Forget” what’s behind and “strain” toward what’s ahead. I think that’s a HUGE factor in contentment. many times we do just the opposite and hang on to our failures and disappointments and pain and forget what God’s has ahead of us. When we let go of what is forgiven then we open our eyes to see what we have now and have faith for what is to come.

  8. Michele Morin

    So ironic that in our privileged North American lives we can actually find so MANY (MANY!!) ways to be dissatisfied.
    Raising my hand as guilty, though!
    Thanks for this wake up call!

  9. Pingback: When grace blooms in our lives...#GraceMoments Link Up - Journeys in Grace

  10. Dawn

    Love this list, Lisa! Of course, the 1st one caught my attention right away…always grace! 🙂 Thanks for sharing this at the #GraceMoments Link Up last week. I am sharing your post as one of my favorites!

    Blessings and Happy Mother’s Day!

  11. Anita Ojeda

    These are so good, Lisa! Number 12 really made me pause and think. I like my comfort (she types as she sips her Starbucks non-fat, decaf latte from a pleasant outside table). I need to be bringing more comfort to people than I am indulging in it for myself.

  12. Anne from CMM World Missions

    What a useful information provided by this blog Liza. It’s remarkable. Thanks for helping me out. I like everything, most specially the thing about “Don’t expect the world’s material blessings to fall at your doorstep. Don’t promise yourself different things than God promises you.”

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