We’ve all been there, daydreaming about what life would be like if ______, whether that’s getting a job promotion, a future spouse, having children, or moving to a different city. We all have a “what if” in our heads that keep us from being content and fully present in where we’re at right now.

How much of our daydreaming prevents us from truly enjoying our current life stage? It’s so much easier to think about what could be than dealing with our current reality. Even if there isn’t anything obviously bad about our lives, a sweeter life with endless possibilities will always call our name.

Especially around the new year, we all get the “New Year, New Me” mentality, which distorts our reality and keeps us from feeling thankful for where we are now. Setting goals for the new year isn’t a bad thing, but it’s putting our hope in our ideal, imagined future that can be dangerous.

So, how can we find contentment and still be hopeful for what the new year brings?

1. Stop comparing yourself.

Easier said than done, I know! Comparison is the thief of joy! We could be so content with where our life is at and with what we have. And then a minute on social media could change all of that. We see what we don’t have in someone else’s life, and all of a sudden, we’re no longer okay with where we’re at in life and with what we have.

Social media fakes perfection in so many different ways. It’s hard to actually know what’s going on in someone’s life when they only post the amazing parts. If this is all we see, then, of course, it’ll seem like everyone, except for us, has this extravagant life.

Comparing yourself to other people only hurts you at the end of the day. You’re only reminding yourself that you’re not good enough right now. Only if you keep striving for ___, then you could be as “perfect” as them.

We were all created individually and uniquely, so we should be celebrating our differences rather than working to minimize them.

2. Practice gratitude.

Expressing gratitude or giving thanks for what you already have reminds you that each day and everything we already have is a gift. Whether it’s keeping a gratitude journal or saying one thing you’re thankful for out loud every morning, it’s important to make a habit of expressing thankfulness.

It’s so easy for us to overlook everything we’ve been given in our lives and hyperfocus on what we don’t have. By practicing gratitude and making it a regular habit, we’ll find that our outlook on life will be more positive than before.

So, what are you thankful for? It can be anything: your place of residence, accessibility to food and water, a source of income, or people who love you. The list goes on and on. Everything we already have is a blessing.

3. Break the retail therapy mentality.

We all have a little part of ourselves that feels better when we buy something. In our moment of weakness, we rationalize why we need this, and when we get home, it joins the never-ending pile of clutter.

How many times have we felt like if we just had ___ then everything would work? I know I’ve felt this way, whether it’s with clothes or some kind of new technology. I want to follow the trends. In a few months, I’ll look back and see what clutter I’ve accumulated from my “retail therapy” moments.

Breaking the retail therapy mentality allows us to see what we already have and be appreciative of it. Contentment isn’t found in constantly looking for the next best thing.

4. Be present.

It’s so important to be present in each and every moment. I feel like a lot of us are so caught up in what’s coming next, whether that is the new year, the next step in our lives, or even what tomorrow brings. We can be so wrapped up in it that we forget about what’s happening right now.

When we’re present, we’re living in the moment! We’re not concerned about how tomorrow will be or what’s happening somewhere else. To live in the moment means we’re not on our phones; it means we’re truly experiencing the people and events around us.

This is important because each moment in itself is a gift!

As Andy Bernard from The Office put it, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in ‘the good old days,’ before you’ve actually left them.”

There’s an easy fix to this! If we choose to be present and not be worried about what’s next or what we don’t have, then we’ll become more content with where we are because we’ve truly lived in those moments.