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  • Writer's pictureStephen

After last week's message about connection, someone reached out with a powerful insight that is connected (ha!) to the thought I have for this week. They shared that making a connection with someone else will only go as far as the other person's receptivity to the connection. This highlights the fact that while we may have the best of intentions, often there is so much that is beyond our control we have to continue to learn to how to adapt and respond to all of that "out-of-control-ness." This is where today's topic of contentment comes to play.

It seems like we hear a lot about trying to be happy or working toward happiness as a goal or objective for life, but I think that pales in comparison to learning to be content. Here's how I see the difference: happiness usually seems to be connected to external circumstances. If I have a good job, a place to live, and some good relationships, then I can be happy. Or if the right political party is in office and making the best choices, then we can collectively be happy. It's almost like a formula - If such and such happens, then happiness will result, but it almost always seems to be related to some measurement of external circumstances that determines whether or not happiness will show up.

In contrast, I believe contentment is about learning to live from a place of internal settledness that isn't dependent on external circumstances. It's about learning to find a space of internal peace and gratitude that provides a place of anchoring, even when the circumstances of life don't go "my way." I have a friend who I met through the Center for Mind & Body Medicine training we participated in here in our community, Dr. Tanmeet Sethi, who wrote a book about this (Joy is My Justice). Joy is the language she uses to explain what I mean here by contentment, and she makes the claim (and I agree!) that everyone has the right and the ability to claim their joy/contentment in life.*

Now you might be thinking, this is a great idea, but what does it look like to practically take steps toward finding that kind of contentment? Well, this brings us back to the feedback from last week's message. I believe the first step in moving into the inner space of contentment is by getting very clear with myself about what I can control and what I can't control. The simple act of asking the question, "Is this something I can control?" can be a powerful starting point.

For example, let's say I am confronted with a person who is upset and expressing their frustration toward me. If I can be clear that I can't control their frustration but I can control how I respond to their frustration, that simple process of clarification can help me to settle down internally a little bit. Another example of how I use this is by saying to myself (I try and mostly say this internally!), "that's not mine to carry." This is particularly helpful if someone is making decisions I don't agree with and I am feeling frustrated by their "bad" choices. The truth is, their choices aren't mine to carry, which helps me settle down internally a little bit.

As you think about the circumstances of your life right now, are there some places you are not experiencing contentment? How could being honest about what you can control and what you can't control help you take a step toward that internal contentment? Where might it be helpful to think, "That's not mine to carry" and how might that help you settle down internally a little bit?

Here's to not settling for happiness, but reaching toward contentment!

Be Well,


*Dr. Sethi makes the case that claiming our joy is actually a way in which we can practice and live out our justice, and I would highly recommend her book! Joy Is My Justice: Reclaim What is Yours, Copyright 2023 by Tanmeet Sethi, MD and available at your favorite book retailer.

Center was created to support individuals and teams so they can live from their Purposeful Center. We specialize in executive coaching and leadership development and we’d love to support you! Click on our Services page to book a free consultation.

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  • Writer's pictureStephen

I have been thinking a lot recently about the power of connection. Actually, I was watching a show over the weekend that highlighted the dysfunction of disconnection (people only caring about themselves or their own agenda or perspective), and it caused me to think about how powerful it can be when we make an effort to actually make a connection with someone else. I believe there are some people we can have a more natural connection with - people who we seem to just "click" with and we have a lot in common together. Those are the kind of relationships I think we need to cherish and be grateful for in our lives. But what I am talking about is the power that can emerge when we act with intention to create a connection with someone we might not naturally click with. It's so easy to just see the differences that exist between us, and let's face it, we live in a world right now that seems to thrive on highlighting those differences (can someone say politics?)! If we give into that temptation to highlight our separateness, we only re-create a world of greater isolation and we'll fall back into the dysfunction of disconnection. But if we are willing to slow down and deliberately look for the spaces of commonality, we can unleash the positive power of connection. For example, one of the connecting practices I attempt to use is calling a person by their name if I have it. If I am at a restaurant or a store and a person has a name tag, I use their name. Or if I call to a customer service line or a business and the person answers the phone and says their name, I will try and repeat it and write it down so I can use it during the call. I know this may sound kind of cheesy (my kids certainly thought it was while they were growing up!), but it's my attempt to remind myself that they are a person just like me, with a name and a story, rather than just a job or service I am being offered. The truth is, when we can slow down and take some time to look for ways we can connect with others (like we both have a name!), we discover we are actually much more similar than we are different. The power of the connection can help us overcome the dysfunction of disconnection! What are some ways you like to look for connection with others in your life? How could you shift your attention away from differences, and instead look for similarities to build a connection? Who might you encounter this week that just might need your power of connection in their life? Here's to using the power of connection! Be Well,


Center was created to support individuals and teams so they can live from their Purposeful Center. We specialize in executive coaching and leadership development and this blog is designed to provide ideas and thought-starters to support you on your journey of Centering growth! Click on our Services page to book a free consultation if you'd like to connect.

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  • Writer's pictureStephen

I recently came across a Latin phrase that I found very helpful. Hominem unis libri timeo, which is a warning that means "Beware the person of a single book." While the origin of this phrase is unclear, what it's basically saying is that it's possible to be too focused on singular issue, perspective or source, which can ultimately limit our view and keep us closed to other ideas and perspectives. Tunnel Vision!

For example, if I only ever listen to the same news source for all of my information, my perspective on the events of the world will quickly become jaded to that focus. Or if I only talk to the same person for advice whenever I am facing a difficult decision, my options for choices will be limited to what the two of us can come up with together - about everything! "Beware the person of a single book."

What this warning is encouraging us to do instead, is to look for multiple views and perspectives to help give us a broader understanding of life. In other words, it's possible to actually be too focused at times.

Now don't get me wrong, focus is a good thing! There are times when it's important to shut out distractions and get a laser focus on a project or the completion of a task. But there is also a place for seeking input from various sources and being curious about other perspectives. This is especially true when we are trying to make significant decisions, figure out new directions, or solve large problems. In those circumstances, limiting our sources of input only hinders our ability to see what other options may be available to us. When we make sure we aren't just reading from a single book, we can find insights and wisdom we would never have considered otherwise.

What decisions are you facing right now that you may be in danger of "reading from a single book"? Who could you reach out to (with curiosity and openness!) in order to gain a different perspective on your problem? What might need to shift inside of you or your team in order to be more open to other ideas and viewpoints?

Hominem unis libri timeo - Beware the person of a single book. Here's to reading from more than one book this week!

Be Well,

Stephen Center was created to support individuals and teams so they can live from their Purposeful Center. We specialize in executive coaching and leadership development and we’d love to support you! Click on our Services page to book a free consultation.

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