GUEST POST BY TORI SCHAULIS
Disclaimer: I am a struggling twenty-something trying to figure out what it means to live in contentment. I do not by any means have this mastered; the words that follow are a glimpse into my process and what I’ve learned along the way.
What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘idol’? Perhaps it’s a golden statue, or money, or getting married. Maybe it’s an artist or songwriter or something less tangible, like your job or education. Whatever the case, our culture is ripe with idolatry, whether we admit it or not.
How many of you are guilty of spending hours on social media wishing you could experience, have or be what your friends are posting? I’d be the first to raise my hand. It’s called coveting. And it affects us like poison. We live in a wanderlust driven culture, which idolizes traveling, experiences, and squeezing life out of every little thing that promises pleasure.
Sometimes I feel as though I’m entering a freaking minefield when I open my social media feed as jealousy creeps up in my heart and I can’t seem to shake the longing to just go and escape my current reality. But I’ve learned that if I chase this feeling I’m only left wanting more, disappointed that I’ve reached the end without feeling full or satisfied.
This past summer I traveled all over Europe. I went to volunteer with refugees, but also because the explorer inside of me wanted to experience the world. I came face to face with the harsh reality that the world is a really dark place desperately in need of Light. Oftentimes I am guilty of thinking the world is one big magical playground and if I’m not escaping my current reality, then I’m missing out.
I’ve learned that no matter where I go, I can’t outrun the process, nor can I escape what’s happening within. Even if I were travel halfway across the world, I’d still be carrying my own baggage with me.
The truth is that wanderlust promises what it can’t deliver.
One of the best things I’ve practiced when overcome with wanderlust and jealousy is gratitude. It sounds simple, but thankfulness shifts the atmosphere - both internally and externally. When I choose to start listing all the things I’m thankful for, my eyes suddenly turn from myself to those around me and I realize my life is such a gift, especially in contrast to those I spent serving this summer.
You see, something happens when you choose to give your life away to others. Aside from gratitude, it may be the most powerful tool to finding contentment. It forces us to shift perspectives and get out of ourselves - something I need more often than not.
The next time you scroll through your feed and wish you could be somewhere else, try stopping and listing five things you’re thankful for. Look for opportunities to serve in your community, even if it’s as simple as serving a hot meal to someone in need. Finding true contentment requires effort; it’s a fight. But it opens our eyes to truly see what’s in front of us and take advantage of what life offers now, not ten years down the road.
At heart, Tori is a modern day pioneer, social entrepreneur, and creative thought leader. She works as a strategic writer and storyteller and believes we were each made to give our lives away and to come alive as we learn to invest in those around us. You can often find her dreaming and writing up something new on her back porch with a cup of coffee in hand. Join her conversation about wholehearted living on her blog at www.torischaulis.com.