Life can be a struggle. It can feel like suffering and chaos and too much stress at times. One hopes that at the end of the the day, we can feel some contentment. I use this word a lot within my writing, and truly identify it as something that we should aim for. I also write about fulfillment a lot. These words are different than happiness, in that they include another element of some sort of achievement…and maybe a better word would be satisfaction.
I hold a strong belief that we should be aiming to do more things that make us happy…more often. I also feel that we should all consider more often how to do less of what doesn’t make us happy. It’s a real adjustment that each one of us can make. You check in with yourself and ask, ‘Hey…do you enjoy doing this?’ Now…that’s actually not the simplest question to answer. If you ask that question about your job, you’ll most likely come up against many elements about it that you don’t like…and many that you do. You may not enjoy your boss. The actual work may not be your passion. But, you may love the company of your co-workers. The pay and benefits might make you happy. The schedule might be perfect. Or, it may be the opposite. It’s important to have this conversation with yourself though, or with your partner, in order to be able to articulate and be aware of what makes you happy and what doesn’t. I can do this with my work, and with all other activities that are in my life. I can do more of the ones that are more happiness weighted.
In a deeper way though, we should be trying to find contentment within our lives. And whereas happiness can be short term, self-indulgent, and trivial in the grand scheme…contentment comes from progress, connecting with others, and purposeful and meaningful experiences. The phrase ‘being able to sleep at night’ comes to mind when thinking about contentment. It’s a pride and awareness that you’re on the right track…that your house is in order…and that you’re now able to try to help others.
This doesn’t mean life gets easier. In fact, it means you’re adopting more responsibility…you’re striving and reaching more. And damn, you’re tired at the end of the day. When you hit the pillow, you crash…and you sleep like a baby. You’re not ‘at your whit’s end though’…because all those experiences and behaviors are keeping you charged up. The connections you’re making, and the progress on the path are keeping you satisfied and fulfilled. You’re aiming at something. You’re trying to hit the mark. You’re also not ‘burning the wick at both ends’ because that wick burns out and doesn’t have enough for tomorrow.
Contentment begins with self-awareness. What will satisfy you? What will give you purpose?
Contentment is achieved by putting the answers to those questions into action.