Life Advice



Single File: Contentment

Susan Dietz on

DEAR SUSAN: Choosing to be happy is something I've thought about over the years. It's not easy to put into practice, but it's quite liberating when you do. (Another way of saying it is "owning what you have." It reminds you to notice what is already in front of you.) The goal, it seems to me, is finding contentment and real joy in what you are experiencing. -- From the "Single File" blog

DEAR BLOGGER: Not only to notice what is already in your life but to appreciate and be grateful for it! Sounds simple, just a flick of an atom of gratitude, but try it, reader friends. Give it a whirl some day when you're wondering how to use an extra space in your day. I suggest you start by giving a thought to your life as it is today, to consciously (perhaps out loud) appreciate what is already yours. You might start with your family, large or small; your home, large or small; your children, large and small. And your circle of friends, large or small. I warn you, though, that this kind of thinking can become part of your routine; it feels so good it could replace computer games! This pause is designed to refresh the thirst for soul-deep contentment. Let me know whether it fits your life.

DEAR SUSAN: I've made my share of mistakes with my kids, but the thing I feel proudest of is something we call the "gratitude circle." Every night before we read bedtime stories, the members of our family are called on to say at least one thing they are grateful for. And it can't be only "I'm grateful for my family." (That can be part of it, but there needs to be something specific to that day they appreciate.) The point is to focus on our positives instead of the negatives. And saying it out loud, sharing it with others, absolutely makes a difference. This is one way we can will ourselves toward happiness. -- From the "Single File" blog

DEAR BLOGGER: We Americans always seem to make happiness our goal. Not so in many other countries, where "contentment" seems to be their holy grail. Folding verbal appreciation into the bedtime ritual makes sense on so many levels, not the least of which is sending your family to bed with a calm, appreciative mindset. Waking up the next morning then becomes a pleasant continuation of that grateful mindset, excellent preparation for each day. And saying it aloud, sharing it with loved ones, gives it resonance on one's soul. Appreciation can become a habit, part of one's viewpoint. Would that all of us would agree -- and adopt that mindset.



Have a question for Susan? You can reach her directly at We've uncovered another treasure trove of "Single File" paperbacks -- in perfect condition, signed by Susan, ready to enjoy. Send $15 and your address: Susan Deitz, C/O Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA, 90254.



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