In this post:
Some people are just born smiling. Some people are just naturally at peace.
Everyone else has to work at it.
If I can give you one piece of advice, if I could go back and tell my younger self one thing, it would be to learn how to take charge of your own happiness and always protect your peace.
Sometimes you have to teach yourself how to be content with your life
No one can make you happy. No one thing can make you fulfilled or content.
Not a partner, not a job, not money, not drugs or alcohol. And not even children you love more than life itself.
Happiness is a choice you have to make, and it is hard.
To feel satisfied with your life, you have to fight off feelings of guilt and inadequacy and the desire to please.
You have to let go of the idea of perfection and see the beauty in the chaos of your life.
You have to take responsibility—for your actions, for your words, for your mistakes. And you can’t try to control everything either (trust me on this one), which only leads to disappointment.
Feeling happy and satisfied with your life won’t just come to you. You have to reach out and take it. Even be a little greedy with it.
You have to fill your life with things that bring YOU joy, and sometimes that means ignoring what others want you to do. That sounds easy in theory, but it is difficult for many people (especially women.)
Strive for connection—to people, to passions, to art, to anything that brings you peace and contentment. Work hard at creating deeper relationships with friends and family and finding gratitude for the little things.
But please don’t try to fill a happiness void in your life with another tangible such as food, alcohol, drugs, shopping, etc. These are short-term fixes and will never solve your problems.
Dear teen, try to feel it all
You won’t be happy every moment or even every day. We all face bad times. Lean into the dark moments so you can also celebrate the joy. Try to understand that you can learn from those pitfalls and apply them to what comes next. Remember that struggles can make you stronger and more resilient.
And when you are in a bad place, feel confident that you can climb out of it. Know who and what to seek out to help you out of that black hole.
Because when you know how what makes you feel happy, feel content, feel joy, you can always find it again (and again.)
Feeling content can be contagious
It’s okay to be looking ahead, but try to feel some joy for where you are at right now. Contentment can always help you feel happy and satisfied.
And the best part of feeling happy with your life and content with your life? When you’re happy and confident, you want to lift others up as well. You can spread compliments and compassion and grace around like confetti—which makes everyone feel good.
Sometimes your happiness will mean cutting out the negativity in your life. This might mean less social media or putting boundaries up to toxic people. Do not believe it when someone says this is selfish. You have to protect your peace.
Because content and happy people often surround themselves with others who act the same.
If you learn anything from me, dear teen, I want you to learn how I found my happiness. I want you to know how I learned to feel content with my life.
You bring me so much joy, but feeling happy, feeling satisfied with my life? That comes from deep within myself, and it took me a long time to get here.
I hope you learn to find the beauty in every day, and I hope you learn to feel good about yourself.
You deserve all the happiness you can get out of this life.
As do we all.
10 Tips to Help Teens Be Content With Their Life
- Practice gratitude: In today’s always-on world, it can be tough to enjoy the little things and we often seek instant gratification. It’s important to take time each day to be thankful for the blessings in your life: good health, enough food to eat, family. This can help you shift your focus to the positive aspects of your life and increase feelings of happiness and contentment. Related: How to Incorporate Gratitude Into Your Life with Teenagers
- Embrace mindfulness. Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Mindfulness techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, can help you be more aware and accepting of your current circumstances. We love this Breathing Buddha product that helps with a specific breathing exercise to calm anxious teens. Related: Six Mindfulness Apps for Teen
- Let go of comparison: Social media and the constant comparison of other people’s highlight reels has made it so challenging for teens to feel satisfied with their own lives. Comparing your life to others often leads to feelings of inadequacy and dissatisfaction. Instead, focus on your own journey and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. Also consider taking steps to reduce or manage your time on social media. Related: How to Help Teens Avoid the Comparison Trap
- Don’t succumb to a perfectionist mentality: Many teens today strive for perfection in everything they do, and it is causing mental health issues and burnout. If you are dealing with a perfectionistic tween or teen, we feel your pain because it can make you angry, sad, frustrated, and heartbroken. Perfectionist kids often don’t recognize the amazing things they are doing, and only benchmark themselves against the best. It’s important that perfect is an unachievable goal and that making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process. Related: 9 Practical Ways Parents Can Help Teens Deal With Perfectionism
- Find a passion project: Teens who are content often have something that brings them purpose, whether it is a job, activity, sport, volunteer project, or hobby. If your teen finds something productive that they enjoy, encourage them to do more of that, no matter how weird it seems to you.
- Cultivate positive relationships: Middle and high school are not always when you find your people, and it’s important our young people understand that. Encourage your kids to surround themselves with positive people, but more importantly, teach them how to identify toxic relationships and how to disengage from those. Related: This Is What to Do (And What Not to Do) When You Don’t Like Your Teen’s Friends
- Practice self-care: Often, other people’s opinions of what we should do are based on their motivations. Rarely are people looking out for what’s in our best interests, especially if it contradicts their agenda. Learning how to take care of yourself physically and emotionally, whether it’s through exercise, healthy eating, or relaxation techniques, is one of the best ways to find contentment in our lives and improve our overall well-being. Related: Why Self Care Is One Of The Most Important Lessons We Can Teach Our Teens
- Avoid an entitlement mentality: In our modern world of participation trophies, materialism, and me-centric parenting, entitlement is becoming a huge problem for teens today. Despite our best of intentions, we are trying to carve a perfect path for our kids as opposed to teaching our children how to navigate whatever road they find themselves on. An entitled teen often has a sense of superiority and feels like their wants and needs come ahead of the rest of the world. They rarely acknowledge the efforts of others and think others are there to serve them. We must focus less on achievement and materialistic possessions and more on resiliency and self-sufficiency. Related: How Not to Raise Entitled Teens
- Make the best out of situations. We’ve all seen it. One small thing doesn’t go as planned and a teen crumbles. Learning to make the best out of a bad situation often teaches us how to be more satisfied with the things that go right than obsessed with what went wrong.
- Encourage self-expression and curiosity: Encourage teens to express themselves creatively through art, music, writing, coding or any way that feels good for them. It’s also important for teens to be curious about the world around them and why they are feeling a certain way. When they feel fear or anger, encourage them to do something creative to help them process their emotions and feel more content. But also to perhaps do research or think about what is happening, and how they can do things differently.
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