Are you content? When we talk about being content it conjures up many different views. One of the most common beliefs, is that, if you are content, then, you are happy. This is not necessarily correct, although happiness can come with being content, however, the two emotions do not necessarily correlate.
These four points must be considered if we want to achieve contentment:
- Things won’t make us content
- Being content does not necessarily mean we are happy
- Being content doesn’t mean giving up our goals
- Contentment is a skill which we have to learn
We all have an idea of what would make us content, we just don’t necessarily know how to get to that state. We can start by going through the four points:
- Things won’t make us content – We all know it. Obvious isn’t it? Yet we find ourselves thinking, if I had a new car, more money, financial freedom, a big(ger) house I would be content. The problem is, that house, car, latest fashion clothes, handbag, shoes, smart phone or gadget etc. will always get old. The little euphoria we feel when they are new, fades fairly quickly. This is why, the more we tend to earn, the more we want and less content we become. Yes, we can blame the marketers for years of brainwashing, rightly so, as it played a big part in our thought process. However, we can end the cycle within ourselves, we choose not to do it, the marketers are in no rush to persuade us to buy less stuff and we continue to oblige. Seeking contentment in material goods, is an expensive way to fail.
- Being content does not necessarily mean we are happy – When we are content, we have accepted this is a goal achieved. Maybe we are free of debt, we are content to be living within are means and go about our days purchasing only what we need, this doesn’t translate into happiness. Although we have changed our lifestyle and got rid of a stressful element, we can still be bored, unhappy and looking for an injection of fun. This is where we end up undoing all the good work and making purchases looking for the thrill once again. This is because we have confused being content with our situation to translate immediately into happiness.
- Being content doesn’t mean giving up our goals – Ok, so we are content. We have also achieved happiness, we are happy. This doesn’t mean we are living our dream. We still have many desires, not materialistic ones, that we seek. Being content is recognising what we have, not refusing to progress or stagnate. We may have a wish to travel round the world, because we are happy and content with our life, doesn’t mean that goal should be suppressed or ignored. We simply work at fitting it into our new lifestyle. The difference is, we know travelling round the world isn’t going to give us eternal contentment and happiness. When the goals is completed we are content with achieving another goal in our life.
- Contentment is a skill which we have to learn – We are always learning. It is not easy to be content, especially in a culture where marketing has had many years to perfect the brainwashing machine. Every once in a while a tragedy occurs and we are reminded that having our health, safety and close friends and family is a privilege. Alas, it doesn’t last and we are on a drive for bigger and better achievements. I’ve written many posts about striving, not standing still and aiming for more out of life. This has to be balanced with recognising our achievements, understanding and learning to be content with ourselves and what we have (family, friends, mental calmness). We have to learn to let go of the tangible stuff, this doesn’t mean never wanting anything again, more about taming desire.
Learning to be content and being happy is a skill. Connecting the two emotions without expecting that one will automatically lead to the other requires work. The bigger lesson is, we can all be content now, yes, right now, no matter our situation. It requires a change of mindset, one not based on the accumulation of more things.