The sampler in this picture was given to me by my late sister and it hangs above my desk at home. I think that it dates back to the 1800s and I often wonder about the person who embroidered it. Was it a rebellious young girl who was required to demonstrate her needlework skills to show that she was suitable marriage material or was it a devout, older woman who sewed for the joy of it and really did see her life as one of contentment.

Contentment is a word we seldom use, yet it is such a desirable emotion. I see contentment as freedom- to be at one with ourselves and our lives. How do we get there?

A starting point is to be grateful for what we do have- all the more so in our country where so many people have nothing. We need to shift our focus away from what we want, or think we want, to what we have. We need to drop “when/then” thinking- “when I have a new car, then I’ll be happy” “when I have a girlfriend, then I’ll be happy”.

Our happiness doesn’t depend on a pair of fabulous new shoes, rather it depends on our deciding to be happy. The momentary pleasure of shopping disappears, leaving us with more stuff and less money. We shouldn’t compare ourselves to other people. Other lives may look perfect on social media but in reality those people are probably miserable, exhausted and unfulfilled! Let’s just be ourselves and be grateful that each one of us is special and unique.

Here’s a quote I like from the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu

“Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.”

I wonder if the person who stitched my sampler knew that to be true.


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