This week I want to bring up the concept of being happy as apposed to feeling content. There is a strong difference and it might seem like happiness is the obvious goal for you, but I want to share my thoughts: why be happy when you can be content? and why it is a better option for many.
The meaning of happiness
Being happy is a short term emotional feeling. It feels great at the time, but it takes a lot of work to get to that place, and you can’t stay in that feeling all the time.
The meaning of contentedness
Now feeling content is a more long term state. And it leads to you feeling empowered and overall satisfied.
This is because in order to get to be content, your goals were never slightly out of reach, you didn’t have to give yourself anxiety to get there, and the satisfaction you get from it means you are encouraged to go for it again and again.
It is more in your control with fewer boundaries in the way, and in a state of contentment, you are making the best long term decisions for yourself.
The happiness chase
The chase will happen when you are looking to make decisions for instant gratification. This will then lead to more long term discontent.
In a state of happiness, you do the same thing over and over again to feel better, but it is not actually helping you to move forward.
How to be content: The cookie vs cardio
Think of it as wanting to feel better about yourself. If you want to feel short term happiness, you can have a cookie – but for a more long term content state, you would go to the gym instead.
The cookie will taste great, but you aren’t getting much out of it once you finish it. Whereas feeling content with a workout won’t make you as euphorically happy like the cookie will, but the positive gains far outweigh that.
Each of these decisions is giving you a burst of endorphins, but contentedness will last far longer than happiness and give you the drive to do it again and again for those long term rewards.
The craving for a burst of happiness isn’t a far cry from the reason many develop addictions. An addiction is a permanent state of wanting something that will make you happy in the short term.
So, be content and have a nice day.