The last few weekends I’ve traveled with my husband, and if you’re like me, when you travel you pick up and read lots of magazines. I do love to read magazines to get ideas, be inspired, dream … see what’s “new.”

As long as I don’t get caught up in the “wants.”

We walk into Pier 1 or Home Goods or TJ Maxx … it’s fun to browse, but do the “wants” come over you?

They do me.

Just one more set of dishes, cloth napkins, new picture on the wall, outdoor furniture, new pillows … another white bowl … beautiful table cloths … runners …

The list goes on and on for me.

“You are in the prison cell of “wants” if you feel better when you have more and worse when you have less,” says Max Lucado. “If your happiness comes from something you deposit, drive, drink or digest, then face it–you are in prison, the prison of want.”

Many times I’ve filled my shopping basket, only to remove most of what I’ve added because I ask myself, “Do I really need this?”

Paul writes to Timothy: “Godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content” (1 Timothy 6:6-8).

I’m reminded of the time when my husband and I walked up the pathway to knock on the door of a beautiful home in old East Medford, in southern Oregon. We heard the laughter in the backyard, and saw through the window people mingling in the back of the house, so we walked in. As I glanced around at the cozy furniture, warn and comfy, the pictures that lined the walls saying “family,” the grand piano in the corner, the old hardwood floors, I thought to myself: Contentment.

I’m not sure how to explain the way I felt, except when the sixty-something-year-old hostess walked around the corner to greet us (striking red hair, very little make-up on save red-lined lips, and a killer smile) it came to me again: Contentment.

We were attending my friend’s sixty-fifth birthday party. My husband and I (in our late forties) were surrounded by people twenty-plus years older than we were. But these women all had a certain calm about them. I think they’ve been where most of us are today and are now more mature. They know what counts, what matters, who they are, and they’re not distracted by discontentment.

(Discontentment: the joy-buster to hospitality. The robber of friendships. The distraction and time-waster. The wedge between ourselves and our spouses. An ugly way to live).

This gorgeous red-haired woman knew what was important to her. She has had the same furniture in her house for thirty-plus years, and the sense of family history just contributed to the contentedness of the atmosphere. She told me that years ago they bought the house for their kids. Many of their other friends were buying and building “up on the hill,” but they wanted to be close to schools, town … they didn’t want flashy. They wanted simple and easy.

I’m sure she had many opportunities to “re-do” or “re-design” her house, or to jump on board with the latest and the greatest.

And yet, you felt pure class when you walked through their front door.

I think she figured it out early in life. She knew who she was.

She knew how to follow the trendher trend. A trend that brings peace of mind: choosing your own style, using what you have, incorporating family, not keeping up with The Joneses.

The trend that brings contentment, gratitude.

Do you struggle with contentment and how do fight against it?
Do you have a hard time saying no to your wants, or how do you keep them under control?

Sandy Coughlin is a wife and mom of three teenagers, and is the voice behind Reluctant Entertainer, a hospitality blog dedicated to helping people in search of a lifestyle that says, “I can do this!” Her book, The Reluctant Entertainer, is available in bookstores or online, which helps women get past their entertaining fears. Visit Sandy's blog at ReluctantEntertainer.com for more information.

The Reluctant Entertainer: Every Woman's Guide to Simple and Gracious Hospitality by Sandy Coughlin
Copyright © 2010; ISBN 9780764207501
Published by Bethany House Publishers

Publication date: June 27, 2012