Happy or Content – Which Is More Enduring?
Let’s be clear straight off the bat… I’m not talking about ‘stuff’ in this article. Material things do not make us either happy or content – sure, they may give us a fleeting whiff of happiness, but never true contentment.
In this post, I’m talking about life!
Which would you choose?
What's wrong with 'happy'?
To me, happiness is temporary. Present for a short while, but, turn your back, and it’s gone… with little if any residual feeling.
It’s also impossible to be happy all the time! Try it – it doesn’t work.
We even qualify happiness with words like ‘so.’ For example, we say, “I’m so happy.” Great and lovely but ask yourself, why doesn’t the word ‘happy’ encapsulate the sentiment fully?
'Content' – a compromise?
Interestingly, while thinking about this article, I asked around 70 people which they would prefer. And their answers unexpectedly fell into two distinct categories.
What the men thought
In my very unscientific experiment, 80% of the men asked said they considered ‘contentment’ a compromise. Something people settle for while missing out on ‘happy.’
What the women thought
On the flip side of the coin, 91% of the women had similar views to myself on ‘contentment.’ (I’ll chat with my psychologist about this fascinating finding.)
Yes, I get happy, and it’s not something I have given up on or think I need to compromise on (nor have I ever done so). ‘Happy’ is exhilarating and fun. However, I believe it is just too darn hard (and exhausting) to be continually striving to be ‘happy.’
As I have gotten older, ‘contentment’ appears to be a much easier goal to set. (Of course, if ‘happy’ develops from it, then all well and good.)
What I’ve learnt
I now believe I have learnt how to be content.
How? By learning not to keep wanting the next, shiny new material thing. And by being satisfied with what I’ve got, and the fact I can put a roof over my head, feed myself, pay the bills, and have family and friends around me.
With work and life experiences I remain curious, investigative, and push forward along whichever pathway I have chosen. But I now do so on the basis that it’s beneficial for my wellbeing and mental stimulation rather than a means to a tangible end.
I have also learnt to ‘bend.’
Rather than being black and white about things as I once was, I now consider the grey. When younger, I was rigid in my views, beliefs, and desires. But being overly rigid seemed to lead to my general unhappiness. Now, by ‘bending’ with my environment, ‘contentment’ has become eminently achievable.
'Contentment' – a solid foundation for life
To me, ‘contentment’ is a warm, fuzzy, snuggly place to be. It makes me smile when I consider my position in life. And, without causing me to stop moving forward, it provides a firm bedrock to build everything else upon. I accept that my life’s journey won’t end until I drop off the twig, so I may as well make it as pleasurable as possible.
Sure, like everyone, I get unhappy, frustrated, angry, upset, scared. But even during the extremes and when negative situations arise, I remain aware of my foundation of contentment.
And so, I send my best wishes that you find contentment and wallow in its enveloping comfort. However, if you manage to find both ‘contentment’ and ‘happiness’ in combination, I celebrate your good fortune!
I’d love to know your thoughts on this topic. Let me know in the comments below!
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