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Contentment

Mars 2015 2As I write this, I am sitting in an Adirondack chair at our cottage that overlooks a lake. Directly in front of me is a white speed boat, filled with kids, off to a great afternoon of water skiing. The little boy next door is on his dock fishing, successfully, being coaxed by his grandfather. The weather is warm but not hot. The skies are cloudy but it is not raining. I have a half-empty bottle of Mike’s Hard Black Cherry Lemonade next to me. My husband is beside me, reading, and my dog is sound asleep behind me exhausted after chasing balls for hours. I can hear the waves crashing on the shore.

I am content.

Should I be? After all, I’m just a bystander in a beautiful scene. I’m not out on that lake today. It is so cloudy that I won’t see the sun anytime soon. I periodically feel a small drop of rain on my hands. I am going to need to get up soon to get another drink. The skiier just fell, again. Writing a blog post is sort of work, after all.

But I am content. I don’t have to be in the scene to be in the moment. I really don’t have anything to do today that can’t wait until tomorrow or even the day after that. I have my “Gone Fishin'” out-of-office message on both my e-mail and voicemail. I don’t mind the periodic droplets of rain. They’re kind of refreshing.

I rarely feel the same contentment at work. In recent years I’ve been working to try and find a way of bringing the joy I feel sitting in a peaceful setting into some of the interactions with my clients. Even though blow ups are rare and there’s always a solution to a problem, even when you are a consultant, HR is rarely all smiles and cheer. Or even a small sense of relaxation. We have things to do, always. You can’t coast in HR.

Or can we? Should we? Can we be content at breakneck speed?

Sitting here, I’ve done a little research on the word contentment and the ingredients for contentment. The vast majority of studies and experts suggest that contentment has a lot to do with feeling some sort of gratitude. For the privilege of earning enough money to be able to sit and gaze into a lake once in a while with few worries. For the luck in finding a soul mate who enjoys just sitting here with me, doing a whole lot of nuthin’, some of the time. For the gift of a dog who is well-behaved most of the time and is cute as pie when he is sleeping on the grass. For the challenge my work brings me to fix broken things. For the experience of working with many, many different people who teach me things every day. For being able to tap into deeper resources needed to stay ahead of the curve. For being able to publish whatever I feel like.

Imagine if we in HR had a magical formula that would move everyone we work with to a state of zen. Would our engines move faster, better, more efficiently?

Are you content right now? If you are, what brings you to the state of contentment? How can you make that infectious? How can you find that state in whatever surrounds you?

According to a Gallup study, only 26% of us feel content by our career. What matters most? It’s the things that our career often brings, money and fun/recreation as well as romance. So the question is how do we bring that full circle back to our career.

Back home and at work I think I’m going to start clearing out my clutter and improving my view.

What about you?

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