Sunday, January 30, 2011

On Contentment

Be mindful of what you read. I often feel dissatisfied with my own life when I read glossy magazines, ‘show-off’ blogs and peruse luxury brand websites.

And it’s not their fault, the magazines are just trying to make money by showing glamorous people and promoting purchasing, as are luxury websites.

When I choose to read mostly that which aligns with my values and the direction in which I want to steer my life I feel so happy and content that I can’t imagine wanting more.

What inspires and motivates us is different for everyone, but for me I find that words rather than pictures give me a sense of what I can do. I enjoy beautiful visuals, but they often leave me thinking ‘I’m not that thin so the outfit won’t look like that’ or ‘we don’t live in a home with antique wooden doors and a picturesque set of French doors leading to the balcony’. Beautiful to look at, not so good for being content.

Words on the other hand, conjure up ideas in my head. And then when those ideas come to fruition, whether it’s a makeup style, outfit or way to arrange the living room, I’m not comparing it to someone else’s perfectly styled ideal.

For many years, since I first started clicking onto the internet I’ve collected snippets which have been pasted into various word documents. Sometimes it might be a whole article, maybe a paragraph or even a single sentence. Out of everything I have to read when at home (many favourite books and magazines), I think these printed-out ‘personalised books’ (housed in clearfiles) are my number one.

When I read them, I am reminded of my happiness with a simple life.



    By the way, what is a "clearfile"?

  2. I completely agree with you! I still buy a fashion mag now and then for inspiration, but I don't get discontent anymore, it's nothing to do with real life. I also love to read rather than looking at pictures, and I still get more inspiration from reading than looking at pictures.

  3. oh I totally agree with you. I have recognized some of my triggers lately and tried to avoid them, for example since I am trying to cut down on my makeup spending I deleted from my weblinks and unsubscribed to all emails from cosmetic companies, I have also tried to watch less beauty videos on youtube and it really does help. I spent all day with my best friend yesterday at the mall and had so much fun talking and laughing and I all bought was lunch!

    I so get where you are coming from (though I hope our boutique doesn't fall into that category!:-(
    Like you I like looking at blogs with glorious pictures, but that's all I do-click through them on automatic pilot, not really taking anything "in". If you ask me 10 minutes later what I was looking at I couldn't tall you!In fact I don't subscribe to any glossies and never buy them in the shops either.I also don't read chick-lit and have been on a "news-diet" for 3 years now; the news is prohibited in our house. It's amazing what a difference that alone makes to my level of positivity, optimism and contentment.
    Wonderful post Fiona. As always "food for thought."

  5. I went through a period where I couldn't really readl many blogs or mags. Now I can look at something and think, "That's lovely." but know that it is not for me. And I might pull inspiration from an image but make the style my own. If it makes me too envious, I close the page.

  6. Rebecca, a clearfile is a folder or binder with pages which are see-through envelopes. I fill them with my printouts and magazines articles. You can use a ring binder where you punch 2 or 3 holes but I don't like those for my inspirational reading. Who ever snuggled up in bed to read a ring binder?

    Nanne, we must be wired the same way!

    Jennifer, you have taken wise steps. I used to love visiting the makeup counters and mostly came away with something. These days I tidy and clean my makeup area and that satisfies me.

    Vanessa, maybe some people would say yes, but for me I love to browse beautiful jewellery and don't feel discontent. My main baddies are luxury hotels. I visit the websites and imagine I am staying at the Ritz Paris, Chateau Marmont and Hotel Costes. Then by comparison my life is dull and small. So I remind myself it would cost a fortune to stay there and the staff are tres rude (at Hotel Costes anyway).

  7. Kalee, sometimes it's good to take a break from everything - both online and on page - and focus on our own life, you know, the real one, just like you did. And you're right, I get inspiration too from some photos, it gives me ideas on colours or the style I want to evolve to. Those go in my personal style or home style files.

  8. Fiona,

    I hardly ever look at a fashion magazine and stay away from blogs that don't seem like there's a real person behind them.

    I was just telling a girlfriend last night how content I am these days. Maybe it's because I'm getting older and am over that angst of always trying to compete and keep up with others.

    Thank you for the lovely photo of the hydrangeas. They are by far my favorite flower.



  9. Adrienne, you're so right. Some blogs do seem like they don't have a real person behind them. I love seeing others homes like yours, Janets and Faux Fuchsias among others, but I get bored with seeing scanned magazine pages and styled photos over and over.

    I grew the hydrangeas from cuttings from my Dad's property. I even impressed myself managing this as I'm not an experienced gardener.

  10. Fiona, I totally agree with you and the other commenters on how important it is to be content. Advertising, commercials and media are designed to make us "want" more and they want us to feel "bad" if we can't have it--then we will do what we have to in order to feel "good"...which in the USA translates to huge consumer debt and foreclosed homes everywhere.

    I remember years ago, Elaine St. James in her book, "Simplify Your Life" made the correlation between personal unhappiness or discontentment with glossies--calling them "vehicles for Madison Avenue" and recommending canceling all subscriptions/purchases of them cold turkey in order to regain one's sensibilities. And this was before the proliferation of the internet and blogging.

    It's good to be choosey and discerning by what we let our eyes see...which always leads to the heart's desires.


  11. I have had to "unplug" from blogs, magazines and tv shows too and learned to just trust myself as to what makes me happy! I don't need someone else to tell me the latest and greatest thing I "need". I find more contentment just in being mindful and grateful for what I have.

  12. Fiona, wonderful post. You and the other commenters are spot on - an advertiser's job is to create and feed discontent. A TV and magazine fast is a great way to break the cycle. And, of course, by not purchasing those items, you save lots of money that can be used for the things that really make you happy. :)

  13. A very wise post, Fiona.

    May I add that having a working knowledge of the living conditions of people around the world makes me so grateful to have luxuries like clean water, a comfortable home, abundance of safe food, and security and peace in my streets.

    As westerners subject to marketing, we are lulled into contentment by our possessions, when really our focus should be on the peace of our soul and our ability to give and receive love to those closest to us.

  14. Fiona,

    I really appreciated this post. I think it's interesting that you and Adrienne talked about staying away from blogs with stock photos, etc. I have felt that way before and I wasn't certain why.

    I am fairly new to the blogging world, but can tell when it's time for me to "unplug".

  15. This is so true. Our minds are sponges and absorb all the information we feed it consciously or not. It's another area to edit in our lives. I love your idea of making your own reading "book" like you have.

  16. I totally agree with you, Fiona! A simple life = a happy life in my book! Have a beautiful week! xxoo :)

  17. I agree with you 100% While I enjoy looking at the beautiful pictures, I honestly look at some of the fashion shoots and wonder who actually wears this stuff. I get my inspiration from the words of you and our fellow bloggers - learning the thoughts and life experiences of others. Thank you for such an insightful post.

  18. Dear Fiona,
    I love this post as it confirms what I already know; there are real people out there who are sick to death of trying to find their value and worth through other's validation of them.
    I have not bought a fashion magazine in years and will piddle through them while getting my nails done or at the doctor's office. I'd rather set my own standards than to have a teenage, malnourished model tell me what is hot. You said it so very well! Thank you.

  19. So insightful!

    I found this blog and thought of you straight away, in particular this article:

    I don't know if you've read this before but it is a wonderful article.

    You are such a gorgeous inspiration!

    xoxo b

  20. hi dearest fiona,

    i'm so with you. i just got back from a city that thrives on disconent. las vegas. but it is an eye opener for sure and makes me love my little life more than ever. here in the usa contentment is quite elusive it seems, or i should say southern california. there is more plastic surgery done here than anywhere else in the world. that says a lot. i sometimes find myself v jealous reading blogs that seem like they have it all. i know it can't possibly be true but i still get jealous and i hate that. i try not to get too caught up in them but still sometimes it is hard. thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas with me. i hope me showing my house, garden and overall life does not add to your disconent, that would make me sad.


  21. Brilliant comments. I can relate to them all, especially feeling tinges of jealousy looking at some of the unrealistic blogs. Since living in Spain my perspective has changed from when I lived in London (the Spanish are not so materialistic). When I lived in London, I was one of those who had her name on the waiting list for the next big Gucci buy etc. I look back, and I actually feel disgusted with myself because I was no happier. In fact I have less material things now and am the happiest and most "enlightened" I've ever been. It's all part of getting older and wiser I suppose ;-)

  22. bb, thanks for the article link. I have read it before and love it. You are sweet to think of me.

    Janet, I mentioned in one of the comments that I really enjoy looking at your house! You are definitely not one of the blogs I am talking about. I am constantly inspired by your elegant and simple style. And you make me love Ralph Lauren more than I already do.

    Merci to everyone for all your wonderful comments.

  23. what a wonderful and thoughtful post - thank you for writing this!


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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