I believe that, unlike happiness, contentment is rather easy to measure, one just seems to ‘know’ if one is content or not. And unlike happiness, inner contentment remains, more or less constant. Content with one’s life, with one’s position, with one’s partner, content in general.
This week, I was wondering what it is that defines contentment. After a little research, I came to the conclusion that contentment is the simple comparison of where you are with where you want to be. The tricky point emerges, however, with whose vision of success are we aspiring to? I believe that just like our innermost thoughts and personal values, we are very likely to inherit our vision of achievement (the status that should make us feel content) from our tribe, hanging on to it as measure of our own success. And here lies the possible root of much stress and disillusionment.
Statements like “your father would have been very proud of you” can be extremely pleasant to hear, but only if you yourself feel that you have reached the point where you planned to be. I believe that from time to time we should seriously challenge our own expectations. Maybe, just maybe, we have already surpassed them? Maybe there is still a long way to go, if so there will be some serious decisions that need to be taken? Either way, we only have one life and it is vital that we are living our life to our own expectations and not the ones that have been imposed upon us.
Once upon a time, I wanted to be a lorry driver. Sometimes I still do. The fantasy of driving a truckload of useful goods from a factory far away to a place nearby, is always calming – especially when it switches to a more recent adaptation where I am the captain (and sole hand on deck) of a canal boat. The freedom of the water and the possibility to moor up by an inn and drink a beer in the sunshine until it’s time to move on again, fills my head with a sense of calm that some people call meditation.
Have a good week