A Case for Contentment in a "Happiness" Society
I heard some teaching last night on a YouTube channel that just lit me up inside.
This person was making a case for contentment vs. happiness.
At first, I thought it was hogwash, but the longer I thought about it & analyzed it, I realized that this is actually what I believe - I just never had the language to articulate it before now.
As part of the reframing articles in our catalog, I am sharing this one to try & make a case for contentment vs. happiness - it’s a wild paradigm shift, yet very impacting.
Here’s the thing about happiness…
It’s only one of our many human emotions. Not sure why or when someone got the idea that happiness is ALL we need to seek or achieve - that isn’t even feasible.
And because it’s an emotion, usually brought on by a wave of behaviors, or some said event or action, it’s also always fleeting. As much as those behaviors will come & go, change, etc., so will happiness.
And happiness is not the same as joy.
Being happy all the time isn’t even human. Yet, we live in a society that worships “finding happiness” and “being someone’s happiness”. We see it on social media constantly and it’s a message that pours over us in multiple ways.
There are many, many people who think happiness is the goal. That’s their prerogative to believe, but I do not support it. I am of the belief that the search for it does more harm than good.
Because here’s the other thing about it…
Because happiness is an emotion, and therefore driven by events that occur, the consistent search for it is what creates all sorts of addictions, including drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, social media, etc. In other words, the very thing a lot of folks are chasing is the very reason they also don’t experience what they’re chasing (happiness), because in their search for it, they indulge to try and feel it even more. It’s a vicious cycle.
It looks like: I want to be “happy” by how I define it, so I work an ungodly amount of hours to make more money to try to get there, then I’m tired and have no time to consciously spend, so I develop a shopping, sex, alcohol, etc., addiction and buy more stuff (booze, attention, etc.) with the money I worked so hard to earn in an effort to be even more happy. I’m consistently unhappy then, that the money is always running out, I can never have enough booze, drugs, or sex, and I have to work more to replace it, and never get to “happiness.” All the while, advertising that this is a noble form of obtaining “success.”
This is honestly what so many people do! I’m not judging it - it’s likely unconscious for most. And I can’t pretend I don’t get caught in this web from time to time. It’s easy to slip into the mentality, since our society is saturated in it.
But the truth is this…
People can’t ultimately make you happy - they can only make you smile or be PART of that happiness.
Things can’t make you happy - they can make you smile or be a PART of that happiness.
And putting the pressure on people or things to give us this “happiness” we seek is too much pressure. Then, we wonder why we’re disappointed when the “happiness” we thought was permanent becomes temporary or changes for a bit.
Happiness isn’t consistent, and it’s not supposed to be. Joy can be. Contentment can be.
It’s my belief that the people who have shifted their minds to placing their happiness in their spiritual practices & foundations ONLY, and only opting to utilize people & things as their teachers along the way, are the happiest, most CONTENT people on the planet.
It’s so much less stressful to strive to be content in all things, as opposed to being happy in them.
Happiness vs. Contentment reminds me of Perfect vs. Good Enough. And “good enough” is pretty great. Good enough allows us to relax more into who we are - who we’re called to be. It releases the pressure from anyone or anything but our own inquiry, self-growth & seeking to help us find joy.
Let me know what you think. Do you see this as a mindset shift we need as well? Share w/ me in the comments.