Happiness Vs. Contentment

Happiness Vs. Contentment

In mental health by Tree House Recovery

In a society in which momentary happiness and immediate gratification are paramount, it can be difficult to navigate through a landscape where one is searching for a deeply rich transformational experience. In order to make a proper distinction, we can look at happiness as a state of mind which is fleeting depending upon the external circumstances whereas contentment is a state of being that is harvested internally, and can weather external storms. Fostering contentment requires gratitude, patience, understanding, and finally wisdom; it is a process that values inner transformation as paramount, and one that is not concerned, necessarily, with happiness and immediate gratification. To use a somewhat silly example, happiness is the five minutes it takes us eat a box of cookies whereas contentment is the experience of avoiding eating the box of cookies because we know it isn’t good for us. The subsequent experience of engaging in acts that aren’t going to gratify us immediately will strengthen our future resolve to avoid these dangerous temptations.

Another reason to seek the state of being of contentment rather than the state of mind of happiness is that we will actually have more experiences of happiness as we increase our contentment. The reason for this is because contentment also requires the adoption of gratitude. When we inject our lives with gratitude, we short circuit the addictive process often called “the hedonistic treadmill.” The hedonistic treadmill is essentially another way to describe addictions; rather than drugs, the hedonistic treadmill refers to anything we do that yields temporary happiness. Because happiness is fleeting, it has an insatiable hunger that is never really satisfied because once the state of being happy ends, it wants to re-engage in that happiness and will seek out novel experiences in order to accomplish its goal. With respect to contentment, however, the adoption of gratitude then leads to a deep appreciation for what we have and who we are. When we are in a state of gratitude and appreciation, our tendency to have happy experiences increases, and the quality of these happy experiences when had upon the foundation of contentment will be like no other we have experienced before.



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