I was reminded last night of the comparison between happiness and contentment…how the two differ and yet are one and the same. Happiness is experienced moment by moment and can be fleeting. Contentment equals peace and it can be everlasting. Those who are content are happy in their lives, although they may experience unhappy times.
My husband works in the oilfield offshore and is gone for weeks at a time. My daughter spends every other weekend at her dads. There are many weekends I am home alone, and because I am not currently in school or working, I have A LOT of alone time during the week as well. I am content with this. I like myself and am perfectly at peace hanging out with myself, and am extraordinary at keeping myself occupied and entertained, usually. I very rarely get bored. In fact, I often crave this peace and solace. But, we all have bad days and days that are just harder than most. Last night was one of those for me. I felt the sting of loneliness and the lull of boredom. I didn’t want to sit at home alone, but didn’t want to get out and face the rest of the world by myself, either. I wasn’t very happy, as happiness is defined. I wanted my husband to be home, I wanted my children to be around me, I wanted a friend to seek out my company. But, since none of those were possible, I had to keep from wallowing in self-pity.
I realize my life is so much better than many and there was no real reason for me to be down and depressed. I did have two loving puppy dogs, after all, who were soaking in all the attention. In my effort to fight the blues, I worked out P90X style and took a nice long soak in a hot bubble bath. I was unwilling to give in to the insane craving for ice cream. I gave in to the call of the wine instead. As I lay in the tub, reflecting on my day, I realized I do have a wonderful life. I am very loved by God, my husband, my kids and my family. I spend my days doing things for them and also doing things I love. I may have unhappy times, but I am content. Isn’t that the best place to be in life? I have all that I need and am immensely blessed beyond my needs. It is so good to slow down and get back to a more simple life.
“I don’t aim for happiness. Instead, I aim for quiet, constant contentment. Things don’t need to be ‘great’, but if things are good most of the time, I’m content.”
Creating a life of constant, quiet contentment puts you in a firm place from which to stand against storms of disappointment, setbacks, and upsets. You are solidly prepared to experience and welcome the joyful moments when they arrive, no matter how small and simple they may be. What are some ways to help create a life of simple contentment? They are pretty obvious when you think about it, but not always so easy to accomplish. The first is by simplifying – declutter, eliminate those things (objects, activities, toxic relationships) which are unnecessary, streamline. Simplifying leads to prioritizing. Keeping people and life prioritized makes a world of difference. Nothing feels better than laying in bed at night knowing I have put my energy into the things that matter most. Thirdly, accepting who I am, the phase of life I’m currently in, my weaknesses, my strengths and those of people around me. Accept your loved ones as they are and don’t compare them to others, as well as don’t compare your life to another’s. Finally, the satisfaction of hard work and finding beauty in the simplest of things are really hard to beat.