Contentment in life

day_2What do you think is the key to happiness?
Is it being able to overcome a hard time?
Laughter? Maintaining a positive attitude?
Tell us what you think and why.


Happiness is an emotion.

Emotions change. It is impossible to elicit a permanent emotional state. Trying to obtain a permanent state of happiness is a fool’s errand sought only by the emotionally immature.

“Happiness results from  the possession or attainment of what one
considers good:  the happiness of  visiting one’s family.” ~ Dictionary.com

Most people don’t really want to be permanently happy.  That’s too simplistic. I don’t want to even try to preserve happiness. I want to experience the full range of human emotions. It is only by embracing all emotions that one can truly live.

Satisfying your needs

Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needsAccording to Abraham Maslow, the ultimate goal is Self-Actualization. This state is possible when our physical, social, and emotional needs are met. He insisted that very few people actually achieve it. Contemporaries of Maslow have suggested that Self-Actualization is a “mountain-top” experience and that we move in and out of it throughout our lives.  So even psychological theories don’t quite explain it.

Another way

However, I do believe it is possible to achieve a level of satisfaction with one’s life. The closest word I can can think of is contentment.  Being content is a type of positive acceptance. A content person may not always be happy, yet he or she is satisfied with life.

“Contentment is a peaceful kind of happiness in which one rests
without desires, even though every wish may not have been gratified:
contentment in one’s surroundings.” ~ Dictionary.com

I like this definition because it makes room for the possibility that I can be content even when life isn’t perfect. In the last four weeks, my life has not been perfect. There have been lots of opportunities for saddness, grief, frustration, pain, irritation, and a wide range of emotions. Some might be surprised to know that my contentment hasn’t changed.

  • The medication that had been controlling most of my Fibromyalgia symptoms suddenly stopped working. Switching to a different treatment is a slow and painful process.
  • My father’s older brother and the wife of another brother (my Uncle and Aunt) passed away on the same day in different cities. We all feel their loss deeply.
  • I got sick with an undiagnosed respiratory illness. Doctors can’t decide if it’s bronchitis, pneumonia, or something else. In the meantime, I am exhausted from lack of sleep and coughing even with a strong, prescription cough suppressant.
  • The symptoms started the day my Aunt and Uncle died. Because of this, I was unable to attend either funeral.

Feeling sorry for me?

Please don’t. I have so much to be thankful for that not even tragedy will not dim my spark.

  • My Uncle is free from the pain of advanced Paget’s disease and he has been reunited with his wife, parents and many other loved ones.
  • My Aunt is free from the agonizing pain of cancer and has also been reunited with her husband and family. It is comforting to know they are no longer suffering.
  • I’ve been through treatment changes before. This time isn’t any different. I have more coping skills than symptoms.
  • I will probably beat this unknown infection long before the doctors can find an accurate diagnosis.

Yet I am content.contentment

I have been sad, angry, frustrated, nostalgic, grief-stricken, annoyed, excited, impatient, relaxed, relieved, worried, and so much more. Still, I wouldn’t want my life any other way.

My secret?

Never run out of options. As long as there is one more thing to try, then I feel a sense of control. I am the author of my own story, the master of my own destiny. I am not afraid of tragedy, sickness, or poverty. I have lived long enough to face all three.

There are much worse things than not being happy.

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