I received a newsletter at the beginning of the year with the subject line Your Most Powerful Year. It referred to a blog post that claims having a lack of confidence is the key to a successful year.
What? Lack of confidence? That’s what I said too.
What this blog post claims is that when you get into a state of complacency, you start to slack off and not work on things. When you are content you don’t grow and improve. So you need to always be discontent so you’ll keep pushing yourself.
This advice was being given in a business context but it could easily be applied your relationship life too. After all, if you are satisfied with your relationship, you won’t push it to the next level either will you?
Being content means stagnation. If you aren’t growing you’re dying right?
All sounds good…or does it?
There’s no question this kind of reasoning is prevalent in western society. You are taught to never be satisfied with the status quo. You should always push the envelope. Getting ahead and moving beyond where you are is what you’re all about if you’re doing things right.
Discontentment is what drives you toward your goals. You never want to stay where you are or you will feel like a failure.
This may make sense for business though another blogger I read thinks it doesn’t make sense there either and I tend to agree with him.
I’ve often said I would rather make less money and be happy doing it, than be endlessly striving for goals that remain outside my reach and never feeling I’ve arrived anywhere.
I like to tell the story of two businesses I knew when I lived in Calgary. Two brothers Peter and Bob both opened hamburger businesses there.
Peter created a single hamburger stand called Peter’s Drive-In and grew it over the years to a very lucrative operation that became known throughout Alberta and its renown even spread to other provinces. When people came to Calgary, Peter’s was one stop they made sure to take in. Some people would travel miles to Calgary just to go to Peter’s Drive In.
Peter’s brother Bob also created a hamburger business. Unlike Peter he chose to franchise it and grow it large. Bob’s Burgers locations opened up all over Calgary.
Which business was successful?
Bob’s business looked successful for quite some time. Unlike Peter’s business it was not stagnant. It was growing and opening new locations every year. It seemed the paradigm of a successful business in its ongoing expansion. Bob was never satisfied and always pushed the envelope as entrepreneurs are told to.
Using the usual wisdom we would have to say that Peter was unsuccessful for being content with a single burger stand and making it the best he could over time. His satisfaction was a sign of failure.
But time showed otherwise.
While Bob showed the recommended discontent and need to grow his business bigger and better, eventually his success turned to literal failure. Within about 5 years from when he started, all Bob’s Burgers locations were gone.
Peter showed contentment with what he had. He loved it. Nurtured it. Enjoyed it for what it was, not for what it could become. After 30 plus years he sold his hamburger stand to retire and it remains in Calgary to this day.
The culture of discontentment doesn’t always (if ever) make sense in your business life. It definitely doesn’t make sense in your relationship life. Why? Because you’re relationship is not about getting anywhere. It’s not about moving to a next level. It’s not about doing anything at all.
It is about being.
Being with your partner. Enjoy them for who they are and giving yourself to them in return. Being content and satisfied with your relationship for what it is, not for what it might become.
I talked a bit about this in a prior post when I spoke of The 3 Worst Reasons To Get Into A New Relationship This Year. I showed how most of the common reasons people give for why they want to be in a new relationship are not about the relationship itself, but about something the relationship will lead to. The relationship becomes a means to an end.
People avoid getting into relationships for the wrong reasons too. In The Real Reason You Don’t Have Love In Your Life, I showed how you often decide not to be in a relationship because of a lot of other things that have nothing at all to do with romantic love and your connection with your partner.
Underlying all of these reasons for or against being in a relationship is discontent and dissatisfaction. You are not happy with where you are right now. You want to be somewhere else and at some other level of existence.
But happiness only exists now. We are never anywhere else.
The central problem with this kind of mindset is you never arrive.
No matter where you are you are always seeking to be somewhere else. You’re trying to get to a different level than the one you’re actually on. So you never enjoy your relationship for what it is.
If you cannot be happy being where you are, you can never be happy at all.
A song I heard once says “Here and now is what we’ve got. Let’s make the most of it.”
The secret to a perfect relationship is not finding the perfect partner or growing your relationship or yourself to the perfect level.
It is realizing that what you have right now is already perfect. It is exactly what it is supposed to be at this moment in time.
Perfection is being satisfied with what you’ve got and coming to appreciate your partner for who they are. Appreciating yourself for who you are.
No I’m not talking about accepting an abusive situation or staying in a relationship where love is not reciprocated and both of you are not present. Nor am I talking about becoming complacent in your relationship.
Romantic love is the mutual sharing of yourselves with each other. You can always be finding new and richer ways to connect and show how much you care.
But this is expanding the mutual sharing you have in the here and now. You don’t need to get anywhere else to enjoy it. You just need to be satisfied that today you are where you belong and who you are with is who you are to enjoy and give yourself to now.
If you miss now because you are striving to get to some other place, you will miss what you’ve already got and the only thing you ever actually have.
Your relationship will never remain static. Growth and change is inevitible. Life will ensure that.
But you can embrace and process that growth and change so much better by being content with what you have and open to the change as part of your experience now.
Don’t force it through your own discontentment by worrying about the past or future, or fretting over what you think your relationship should be.
Instead embrace it by accepting and being content with where you are today, and seeking to expand that through your presence to your partner.
What do you think? Have you found the secret?
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