Last night at Bible Study, the minister taught on learning contentment. He used a phrase during the lesson which caught my ear … when then thinking. When I ___________, then I’ll _________. You get to fill in the blanks. This got me to thinking about how pervasive this kind of thinking is.
When I finish this row I’m knitting, then I’ll make dinner. When I finish the chapter I’m reading, then I’ll do the laundry. When I lose ten pounds, then I’ll be happy with how I look. When I get a better job, then I’ll give to charity. It seems like all day long, I’m engaging in when then thinking.
This when then kind of thinking keeps you focused on the future. Too often it’s with a negative view of your current situation. Too often you are postponing your happiness until some time in the future. But if we would live more in the present, we’d realize what a number of blessings we have in our lives. We’d choose to be content with what we have.
This doesn’t discount having ambition and a drive to get ahead. Changing your thinking to then when helps you acknowledge the good that you have in your life currently, to be grateful for it, and to be generous with what you have. When I think thankfully of my warm bed, then I can have compassion for the homeless. When I eat my dinner, then I can be moved to share with the hungry.
This kind of thinking can lead to living a life of contentment.