Being content or being happy.

Words have the power to change us, and understanding these two words can fundamentally change how we view and approach life.

People often use these two words, being happy and being content interchangeably trying to illustrate success.

These two words mean different things.

“Contentment” is the word that changed me.

When I speak of “moments of change,” I mean those situations in which one crosses over from the familiar to a new state of being, of thinking, moments from which there can be no turning back.

Change comes in two forms, it can be physical, or psychological.

Physical meaning developing a muscle, or experiencing euphoria when bungee jumping.

Or Psycological, when a new point of view sweeps away the familiar way of looking at things. Once seen with fresh eyes, a new perspective cannot be undone.

When I came to realize that there is a difference between these two words, I reached for my Oxford English Dictionary, and here is what I found:

HAPPINESS | Good fortune or luck in life or in a particular affair; success; prosperity. The state of pleasurable content of mind, which results from success or the attainment of what is considered good.

So far, nothing unexpected in the Oxford description, although it impressed me that most people, if they had clothes, food, and a roof over their head, were happy by definition.

The dictionary seemed to be saying that happiness was largely the passive result of attainment: One acquired goods or status, and the acquisitions in turn bestowed happiness.

A lot of people have achieved enough creature comforts and nothing to complain about. They are dictionary–happy. But most still feel emotionally let down.

This is when I learned that there are many people in rural and poor communities who are content with the little they have, their smiles are genuine, and can be seen in their eyes.

And then you come to the concrete jungle in big cities and realize how in the midst of abundance of things, people are stressed, fatigued, emotionally empty and depressed.

They have all the things that are supposed to make them happy but they feel like something was missing despite the evident happiness that the authority of the Oxford English Dictionary say they have.

The answer came in the other definition:

CONTENTMENT | Having one’s desire bound by what one has [though that may be less than one could have wished]; not disturbed by the desire of anything more, or of anything different; satisfied so as not to repine.

When you get to a phase in your life where your life is so sufficient and fulfilled that desire would not disturb you, then you are content, you are fulfilled, you are enough.

Being content means lack of something doesn’t alter you.

Being content means not achieving a certain status level does not shift your core being.

Being content means you are enough, you don’t have to prove anything to anyone.

Being content does not mean you are less ambitious, it means you are thankful for what you have and patient for what is to come. 

Contentment is an inner sense of fulfillment that is relatively independent of external circumstances.

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