Years ago, I was reading a blog that I follow by author Lara Casey and she was completing what she called a “Contentment Challenge.” The idea came from a friend of hers, Nancy Ray, who gave up shopping for three months as a way to come to terms with her need for things and find a deeper meaning in her faith. The idea has always intrigued me but has never been something I felt I could truly do. Even though in all honesty, I do not shop a lot for myself, I know I have an attachment to material purchases that I don’t need. I have never been one to go to the mall and spend hundreds of dollars on new clothes for myself, but when I’m out, at say Target just going in for diapers, I somehow end up with random trinkets that the kids or I “need.” Amazon Prime is another place where random things somehow magically appear both in my cart and then on my doorstep in two days time. Pedicures feel like an absolute necessity for me each month and Starbucks often gives me life. So even though I don’t go and spend hundreds at once, I know throughout the course of a month, I do spend money on things that really serve no purpose in my life. I feel like this may be a theme that a lot of moms can relate to. We crave a life that’s simplified, full of the important things, de-cluttered, we want to save money along the way and yet we somehow continue to spend on more things that only bring momentary joy.
The Contentment Challenge aims to explore our need for these frivolous purchases by taking them away for a period time so that you can reflect on other things in your life. It allows you to purchase necessities, and in the outline it explains that for example if your glasses break during the challenge buy new ones, if you need to buy a gift for someone- do so. It’s not about living without the things you need, it’s about exploring a life in which you live with the things you need and cut out the things you don’t, to help you understand your attachment to spending frivolously.
After reading about the challenge years ago, I have often thought about my attachment to the random purchases and why I feel so compelled to spend on things I really don’t need. The idea has bounced around in my mind for a few years now, but I have always found reasons not to follow through. And yet, here I am in the start of 2018 once again thinking about this challenge and my need for meaningless things. I want to explore my need for things and attempt to rid myself of the call I feel to spend when I don’t need to. By attempting this contentment challenge, I am by no means saying once it’s done I will forever ward off pedicures and Starbucks-let’s be real here, I am a mom of three small kids and sometimes those treats are worth it but I am hoping it can help me to start the year off focused on my word of intent for 2018 which is, wouldn’t you know: content.
It won’t be easy and we are in fact traveling to Disney World in the midst of the three months I plan to attempt this; which is obviously not a need but a trip we have planned for, so I plan to enjoy it and the Dole Whips too. So for me, the challenge is more so about looking at my day to day need for things but still allowing me to enjoy the experiences we have already planned for along the way.
If you want to read more about the guidelines of the Contentment Challenge check here: http://nancyrayphotography.com/i-am-content-the-challenge/. I plan to do a check in half-way through and then a final wrap up about the Contentment Challenge once I have finished. If any of you want to join me along the way I would love to hear your experiences too!