Happiness vs contentment – who’s really settling?

Ever wondered whether it was better to be happy or content?

PerfectlyRandom thinks contentment is where it’s at:

So here’s the thing – don’t you ever wish you could just switch your overactive imagination, full of aspirations and crazy flights of fancy, off? Haven’t you ever looked at that sweet lady at work who is completely and utterly satisfied in the role she’s in, with no inclination whatsoever to move on, up, sideways or into another career altogether? Haven’t you ever just wanted that moment of satisfaction you get when you’ve nailed something on your to-do list to actually last?

Granted, chasing happiness means you get to experience some awesome highs. But those highs are so awesome because you also have to experience crushing lows. And who needs that? Wouldn’t you rather be even keel, every day, knowing that you have exactly what you want in life? That you can just take a breath and stop to enjoy the proverbial roses?

I can’t imagine reaching a time when I will ever stop wanting more out of life. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to.

PetiteFolle abhors the idea of contentment:

It may be a question of semantics, but in my mind the term contentment holds the connotation of making do, of settling with what you have rather than seeking other, possibly more enjoyable options. It is not stepping outside your comfort zone, choosing safety over risk. It may be true that they experience a more even set of emotions… but are people who say they are content in their life without ever having tried anything different  really getting what they want? Or do they secretly wish that they had taken a risk and done something a bit different at some point?

For me, happiness is the way forward. I love that part of my imagination that runs wild, filling my head with ambitious projects. I love that I dare to dream… and to follow my dreams through. Happiness need not be an endless pursuit, some mysterious or unattainable goal at the end of the journey. The happiness I cherish is that which is derived from living my dreams, from enjoying the blissful highs and appreciating the character-building lows along the way. Happiness is not the goal, it is the journey… and an amazing journey at that.

The Dalai Lama is widely regarded as having this life stuff pretty sorted… I’ll take the fact that he has written a book about the art of happiness (not contentment) as a sign I’m on the right track.


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