(For those of you who used to read the blogs, and wonder what happen, please see the bulletin on my home page that will hopefully be posted shortly).
Being content is more important than being happy. Or so I’ve always thought. Happiness, after all, is conditioned upon outside forces. Did I have a good day or bad day? Did it rain or shine? Deal or no deal? (Wait, that last one might not apply).
Contentedness, on the other hand, is not based on what happens to you, but how you respond to it. Life can be a raging torrent throwing you out of the proverbial raft without nary a paddle in sight and one can still be content with who they are, what they have in life, and the circumstances they find themselves in. Without sounding too philosophical (or too Frank Sinatra) contentment is a state of mind. And that’s something that we can chose.
I don’t think its a choice that many of us make. Happiness, due to its temporal nature is certainly easier to find, even if it goes away as quickly as it arrives. Contentedness, while much more difficult to acquire is willing to stay around for a while, making itself at home in our lives. Thoreau posited that most men (and I’m pretty sure he’d include women) “live lives of quite desperation”. You’d think after thousands of years on this planet, we’d figure a way out of that by now and we could get on to living lives of quiet appeasement even if we can’t find ecstatic jubilation. But I find that simply isn’t the case.
When Joni Mitchell crooned about paving paradise to put up the parking lot, she suggested “that we don’t know what we’ve got ’till its gone.”. While I’m certain there’s a lot of truth in this, I don’t think its the fudamental answer for our dearth of contentment. It’s not about getting what we want or wanting what we have or even about trading something good for something great, it’s about not wanting. Wanting by its nature seeks satisfaction, and true contenment replaces desire with gratitude. Maybe instead of focusing on what’s just left, we should recognize that sometimes the Big Yellow Taxi brings a new beginning.