A Good Year is one in Which we are Content


I see it on our dog’s faces every day, it doesn’t take a whole lot to bring it to them. A warm (or cool) place to lay, a soft bed, plenty of food and lots of love.

Humans aren’t so easy, though.

I had been contemplating friend’s questions on Facebook: “Had this been a good year and if so, why?” and another friend’s lamenting that “nothing good ever happens anymore.”

New Year’s Eve, while watching the dogs sleep and listening to my husband snore through an afternoon nap, I thought of all of the previous New Year’s.

There was the worst. I was 21-years-old, living in my own apartment. I had gotten the supplies to make a nice dinner and a bottle of Asti Spumante. Dale was coming over and we would ring in 1985 in my first home outside of my parent’s house.

Mother Nature had something else in mind, though. A snow storm kept him across the river in his apartment. We both rang in the New Year alone and I broke the light fixture in my kitchen popping the cork on that bottle of sparkling wine.

There was the one New Year’s where we went to one of those hotel parties with several of our friends. That was probably the most exciting one, although I had to get up at 4 a.m. and go over to my mother’s house to help her with our sick dog, Angel. Our Maltese suffered from seizures, which terrified Mom and not thinking she could handle it, she called me to come and get Angel in the middle of the night.

And there was the New Year that I was never so glad to see a year go, 2007. That year brought us the lowest of lows and highest of highs. But even the high points were stressful: The death of my mother and a life altering diabetes diagnosis for Dale. Our first trip out of the country for our daughter’s wedding in Munich. Our move to Our Little House, a three-month separation while Dale wrapped up business in the city. A new life here in a small town, 300 miles from friends and family and everything we had ever known all of our lives.

Then there was this year. As I sat watching the dogs sleep, some on their backs with smiles clearly on their faces and listened to my husband snore deeply, I labeled this the year of contentment.

Had 2011 been a good year? Yes, it largely had. Not perfect, but none are.

No year is ever all good or all bad, but to be able to say we are content, I think, is the most important thing in our lives.

How do you view contentment? What have you done to find it or what will you do to change your life to attain it? 

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24 Responses

  1. sarah henry says:

    Contentment — worth working towards for the new year, for sure — with some unexpected delight thrown in for good measure.

  2. Although I wouldn’t sign up for tough times, I think if everything in life were always easy, it would be unfulfilling wouldn’t it? Our lives are richer for those lows and highs. I had a year where my husband and I were separated because of his work for 6 months. While it wasn’t fun, it made me realize just how much I needed him, missed him. Okay, now I’m being sappy.

  3. I’ve even come to love the sound of the word “contentment.” It sounds so low-key and satisfying — just like the state of mind itself.

    • kerri says:

      As writers, Ruth, we can almost “feel” words, can’t we? Content is like the word comfort. It just makes use feel good.

  4. Sheryl says:

    That photo is absolutely priceless. Imagine a human that relaxed! Not even in sleep can that happen. Lucky dog. They need so little to be content.

    • kerri says:

      I agree, Sheryl. It is hard for humans to relax even when we’re asleep. Yes, Chloe, and all of my dogs, are happy critters. Content.

  5. NoPotCooking says:

    Oh, to be a dog:) I think that as we get older, contentment comes more easily. There are still hard times but somehow you have a better big picture view. Wishing you all the best in this year!

    • kerri says:

      To be one of our dogs, for sure, Brette! 🙂 I try to take a big picture view. I guess I’ve had enough challenges in life to know that nothing ever remains the same and in that bigger picture, what is the worth of getting upset?

  6. I’m working on this. If not contentment, at least NOT aggravation. I cannot change what goes on around me, but I can change my response to it. I am glad 2011 is over. We’ll see what 2012 becomes.

    • Kerri says:

      That’s a very healthy attitude, Roxanne. We cannot change some things in our lives, we certainly cannot change other people. The only thing we have complete control over is ourselves and our reactions.

  7. Mat says:

    Like I suspect it was for many, 2011 was a transitional, rebuilding year for us. We were able to enjoy a slightly higher quality of life (we instituted cocktail hour), took a real, honest-to-God vacation (though to be fair, the accommodation was free), and we were able to afford birthday gifts (not just for our son). Mishaps with the house were tangibly less catastrophic and we had fewer things that needed repair or refurbish—so we were mostly able to simply “live” with our house. I even got my motorcycle running properly for the first time since I bought it almost 8 years ago (has it been that long?!); maybe 2012 is the year I get rid of the brushes and convert it to a permanent magnet alternator. Yeah, that’s pie in the sky, right there!

    So I, like I hope, many, am looking toward 2012 as a year where plans come together, instead of falling apart. I’m optimistic…happily and probably stupidly, but I am.

    • Kerri says:

      I manage social media for an Asian restaurant here, Mat, and the fortune of the day I posted today was: “What ends on hope does not end at all.” If we don’t have hope, what do we have? Not stupidity at all!

  8. Heather L. says:

    I love the photo of your dog portraying contentment. I have a dog that does that, too. We can learn so much from them.

    You’re right, that no year or no day for that matter is all good or all bad. If we latch onto the good and revel in it, we’ll lead a more contented life.

  9. Sue says:

    My motto these days is a quote from Lonesome Dove –

    The only healthy way to live is to learn to like all the little everyday things, like a sip of good whiskey in the evening, a soft bed, a glass of buttermilk, or a feisty gentleman like myself. Augustus McCrae

    I live a life in my little cabin that would be boring to some people but it makes me content. I like that word, Kerri. It brings to mind peacefulness and comfort, and that photo of one of your dogs says it all. Many years ago when I had ended a bad marriage where I was abused, if not physically, in every other way a bully can abuse someone, I had left my big house and moved into a mobile home and my boys and I struggled to make ends meet. A friend asked me if I was ever happy. I guess he didn’t think I laughed a lot during those times! I seriously thought about it for a few minutes and then told him that I had peace of mind and that was better than happiness.
    That was over 30 years ago and I have since remarried, raised a daughter in addition to the two sons I had then, and have many grandchildren to make me smile. There have been good times and bad in these years. We too have faced job losses and deaths of loved ones. I now live in a tiny cabin in the country and I live simply. I know the value of contentment and I treasure these days and find that I like all the little everyday things. Like a sip of good whiskey and a soft bed.

    • Kerri says:

      Well, mine would be a Hillbilly martini and a soft bed. 😉 You’re right, though, Sue. It is the small things that make a life. A couple of years ago, there was this thing asking people to write their fondest memories of the friend they had connected with there. It was the small things, baking cookies with a cousin, Dale winning a stuffed animal for one of his little sisters when we took them to an amusement park…the little things we didn’t even remember that stuck out in our loved ones minds. It’s the small things that make a life and make us content.

  10. V Schoenwald says:

    I will throw into the pot of success by adding to Kerri’s remark of seemingly success of others that “you” see, but are not the little fly on the wall to “hear” what goes on behind closed doors.
    I personally know well to do people who have everything, and have more money than God, BUT…They are the most miserable people that I have ever seen, the big house, the 5-10 cars, the big garage etc.ect. They hate the world, they hate people, they hate EVERYTHING, period. And now, one of them I know has cancer, and of what good is the big house, the cars, the money, it did not give her good health.
    I, personally am pretty poor on paper, but I am comfortable, I am disabled, but I still garden, and produce food for my table, and I have a tiny herb and fresh herb/seed business to which I will not get rich, but I love going out in the morning to cut sweet smelling Basil, and enjoying the food I produce to eat throughout the winter clear up to spring and then start over. That is what I deem a success for myself personally. Sometimes life throws a curve ball and we end up on the short end of the stick, but how you get off of the stick is the important part.
    What we make out of life is whatever makes us happy, I would never have a McMansion, or new cars or anything, I don’t want to be a slave to any of it. I am my own queen of my domain.

  11. I’ve been thinking about these things for a while now. I’ve recently been reacquainted with some old high school friends. I moved at the beginning of my Junior year so I have 2 sets of old friends. Anyway, through Facebook and through correspondence I can see that they have all done very well financially (one was even married to our governor). I on the other hand went through a devastating divorce about 16 years ago and have never gotten on my feet financially. And to be honest I have never been really motivated business wise. I’ve always been much happier thinking of creative projects, building things, reading, and things like that. I never had to work during my 27 year marriage so had no career to go back to when I was on my own.
    So this has caused me to think about my current situation. I am living on SS ($700/m) and get a little income from renting out a room. I spend my time during the warm weather fully involved with my papercrete project and now during the winter I am very busy learning oil painting, knitting socks and other things for my kids, making slip covers for the furniture I got from my sister, spending time watching my daughter’s dogs while she works, and hanging out with my 87 year old mother.
    I will admit I have felt a little disappointed with myself for not accomplishing a lot since I last saw my high school friends but then I think to myself “Hey I can get up in the morning and do whatever I feel like doing. I have time to help people and be creative. I am not enslaved to a job I don’t much like or a to lot of bills. I can keep my life relatively uncomplicated and enjoy it.”
    So I am still not sure if I would be any more or less content if I have made it big in life, but I do know that the life I have is not bad at all and at this point I am not ready to trade it for anything else.

    • Kerri says:

      >>but I do know that the life I have is not bad at all and at this point I am not ready to trade it for any­thing else.<<<< I think that says it all, Judith. If you're happy, then you shouldn't worry about what others have done. We set our own bar for what makes us happy. Besides, I'll lay you odds that some of your old high school friends who appear successful may not have had one day of contentment in their lives. I think we all struggle with the idea of the question, "Would we be happier if…." I know I do every once in awhile, knowing I could have continued making more money in the corporate cube. However, that life did not bring me many days of happiness.