Sunday, February 6, 2011

Happiness: The Pros and Cons


I was asked to write about happiness. I remember having a thought: I just want to be happy. I don’t know how many times I had that thought, but I know I wasn’t happy when I thought it.

Happiness was a long quest without a map, looking for the missing element in me. The quest for the missing element, in hindsight, proves I was a believer in the myth that joy could be found Out There.

Leap through the years, the circuitous journey…

Happiness is an emotional state of joy…a smile, laughter, pleasure in the moment. Emotional states vacillate with the influences of circumstances and other people. I enjoy the pleasure of happiness, but I know it will pass, as all emotions pass.

What gives me lasting joy now is what I have come to know as contentment, a state of mind, a belief, a method of looking at the world.

Contentment means that I believe my life is fundamentally good, like soil can be good if it has the right composition, no matter what the weather is like above ground.

Contentment means that I appreciate and cherish the elements that comprise the soil of my life…my daughters, my husband, my home, my significant others. But also I value the intangible too: my poetry, my history, my memories, my character and personality. Contentment means that I am aware of these gifts and consider them treasures.

Contentment means that because I am surrounded and filled by treasures, I feel grateful, no matter what the weather is like above ground. The absence of complaint, yearning for more or resenting what is, makes a large room in my life for contentment to abide, take root and grow. Contentment, it turns out, is what I have wanted all along.

Happiness has its moments. I’ve thought about them and written some of the moments down. I'll save it for another day… But what is happiness to you?

27 comments:

Kristin H. said...

"Contentment means that I believe my life is fundamentally good, like soil can be good if it has the right composition, no matter what the weather is like above ground."

Yes! Thank you for this.

Mrsupole said...

I would love to be as grounded as you are and filled with contentment. I will have to give that a lot of thought.

Happiness is when the grandkids laugh or smile and share their love with me. I love my grandkids more than I can say. I hope they and I will someday learn to be as content as you.

God bless.

Brian Miller said...

i dont know if happiness is the target i want as it seems so fleeting and can often be misdirected..

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

Ah sweet contentment!

glynis said...

I love this post. To me happiness takes place in the moment. It's an all consuming, energy giving state of mind that makes me want to embrace the world and everything in it. I agree about contentment and within the contentment (which, to me, is a long running state of being), bursts of happiness light it up. Very thought provoking post!

TechnoBabe said...

Happiness for me goes hand in hand with acceptance. Accepting who I am, what I have done, where I have been, what I know. I choose to be happy. Sometimes being happy is being content but sometimes being happy is just a relief. Breathing air in and out and feeling it.

Zed said...

So true. Happiness is not 'out there', but inside,and it takes years to find that out! Beautifully written. Zed -justnotliketheothers.blogspot.com

Beth Niquette said...

You are absolutely right! To be content in one's circumstance is indeed the baseline for true joy and happiness.

There are many things which make me happy for the moment, like drawing, or looking at clouds. But I think the biggest thing for me, is knowing the Creator of the Universe loves me and cares about the smallest detail of my life. The fact that He likes me is amazing.

I often remember it is good to be thankful for all the wonderful things in my life.

For me, being thankful is the basis of happiness and joy.

That was a great question! Thank you for asking--and for sharing your thoughts.

Patricia said...

I appreciate your post today. I find it very centering. Thank you.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Happiness is when I get this inexplicable surge of elation and I want to stretch out my arms and breathe. I used to get this feeling of elation often when I was younger. Now not so much. I wonder why.

Happiness is also when the writing is good.

Andrew said...

'Happiness is an emotional state of joy…'

'What gives me lasting joy now is what I have come to know as contentment, a state of mind, a belief, a method of looking at the world.'

I could not agree more Chris. Happiness is transient, but the joy of knowing that everything is OK just the way it is gives me a sense of peace with my self and with the world.

The Bug said...

I agree that what I have right now is contentment. I just mosey along without complaint (mostly - except for the weather - isn't it in our charter to complain about the weather?). It's a nice place to be.

For me, happiness is mostly about being content, but then there are those spikes we get when something extra wonderful happens - like Dr. M's father calling him for the first time in our 20 year marriage. They have a good relationship, but my FIL has had hearing problems & doesn't "do" the phone - now he has a new hearing aid & suddenly he can communicate with this newfangled equipment :) I think happy might be a understatement, actually.

Titus said...

Insightful meditations, and happiness is possibly reading about someone who has reached such a place!

Thinking hard, my happiest times are perhaps when we're (the whole family, that is) are away from home together - particularly holidays, it must be said, even if it is just a caravan by a beach. The being able to leave behind the not-unbearable pressures of work, washing, housework, garden and school are terribly freeing for me. I'm sure I laugh much more easily on holiday, or even just long days out.

And even more terribly, I'm very fond of being on my own. That can make me happy.

Indigo said...

You hit it on the nail. Happiness is a mixture of so many things. In the midst of all those things is contentment, a smile waiting to show itself to the day. (Hugs)Indigo

Rachel Fox said...

For me happiness is most often very simple things - a good taste, a lovely look, moments in the sun. It's quite fleeting but I collect the bits I can and try to remember them.
x

Magpie said...

I think, depending on what baggage we each carry, happiness is different things to different people. For me it's a loss of self-awareness...I'm totally lost in something - music, photography, writing, friends, family, nature...whatever, but still grounded in security. I usually have a feeling of stepping out of time when I'm happy.

Shadow said...

happiness, to me, is a high, thus on the day to day, i prefer contentment...

Karen said...

I am with you, Chris. Contentment is the best happiness! Elation fades but contentment abides. I have had both, but I'm grateful for this gentle contentment.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Contentment is what we all need. I'm glad you've found it.
Happiness is cool but it's a temporary madness, like falling in love!

Gabriella Moonlight said...

I was told today by a great friend that happiness is what I do, it's up to me not anyone else or a circumstance, that is the reality, I left our conversation realizing how wonderful that responsibility is!

Kim A. said...

I could not put into words anything as complete and genuine as you did today so I will link to you if you don't mind. My favorite phrase "a method of looking at the world." sums up my journey as a student of ACIM. Your words contain all that is good and right with the world.

♥namaste♥

Carrie Burtt said...

Gratitude, and contentment are such important things to have in one's life....i have always believed....at least once i learned it to be true, that happiness is something no other person can give us....it can only be found from within....great post...you always encourage and remind me what matters! :-)

Syd said...

Happiness comes from within and not another. I realize that now. For me, it is truly being myself, feeling grounded in who I am, in touch with what is around me but not obsessed by others or their emotions. It is about serenity, peacefulness, and love.

RNSANE said...

I know that I am neither happy nor content now. Happiness for me was tied up with doing work that meant so much to me - for 21 years and, having that work, fulfilled me personally and professionally and was my identity. It also allowed me to do the things that I love to do. I'm trying come to grips with life after that loss and still I have trouble!

I pray for acceptance and hope to feel content again.

Scott said...

'tis good to find oneself in a place of contentment...

No matter how the wind howls outside the door to my soul, I know that within God dwells and brings me peace when I think to visit.

What a nice read, thanks Chris!

Guinevere said...

"Happiness" apparently comes from the old word "hap," meaning luck. "Contentment" however comes from the French for "to contain." Interesting difference... Does contentment allow me to contain myself, my feelings, my behavior; and/or does it allow me to feel contained, held, by something else? Just some thoughts... thanks for your blog. I've been away for a funeral but I'll be checking in again. G

Steve E said...

Hey, a bit late to come and read this. OTOH, maybe God meant for me to read just this morning on dAAve

that "Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."

So good, your blog. Thanks, I should come here more often!
PEACE!

Albert Einstein Quotes