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Is Happiness Or Contentment Really The Objective?

Is Happiness Or Contentment Really The Objective?

By Susan Williams

I read an interesting blog post entitled How To Be Happy published on the Psych Central website. The post was about how we spend our time looking to be happy but what the writer suggested is that we should really understand that happiness is not something that can remain a constant feeling in our daily lives.

The writer continued to suggest that happiness is found in small moments of time and said “Happiness comes sparingly at the small moments of joy”.  He also suggested that to try and sustain this constant feeling of happiness is not really possible however sustaining the feeling of contentment is.

He went on to share that when we feel contentment, we feel satisfaction with where we are at any point in our lives. Whether it be good or bad, being content at that particular moment in time is what we should strive for. He continued on to say that being content doesn’t mean that we don’t continue to establish goals and work towards these goals but as we do this, we are accepting of what we have and what our situation is at any given moment.

I think I understand and appreciate what he is suggesting.

To be content is to be satisfied with how things are at any particular moment. To be appreciative of what you currently have and not constantly searching for that feeling or jolt of happiness.

I have to admit though when I first read this post I wasn’t so sure about his suggestion. I think I had a personal challenge with the word contentment and how I have always interpreted it. I always felt that to be content was linked to being satisfied with your current situation in life and not wanting or willing to work or strive for something more.

I think possibly as a generation of baby boomers this is how many of us saw the world around us. Never wanting to settle, always working harder and always expecting (and expected) to achieve more – and sometimes disappointed when it didn’t turn exactly out the way we expected.

But maybe it’s time to shift my thinking.

I looked up the word contentment and it was defined as “a state of happiness and satisfaction”. Based on this definition, contentment has happiness already built in. It’s probably just not the jumping up and down, I can’t believe this happened to me type of happiness but more the subtle and constant state of I’m satisfied with the way things are at this very moment kind of happy.

I also think that I need to adjust my belief that being content doesn’t mean you stop trying to move forward. It’s a matter of recognizing the contentment you have with your life during the actual process of living rather than constantly seeking that emotional jolt of happiness you get from achieving the end result.

As Ernest Hemingway once said, “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” 

So I think the next time someone asks me how I am – I’ll answer “I’m content” and actually feel really good about it.

What do you think?

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Susan Williams is the Founder of Booming Encore. Being a Boomer herself, Susan loves to discover and share ways to live life to the fullest. She shares her experiences, observations and opinions on living life after 50 and tries to embrace Booming Encore's philosophy of making sure every day matters.