Archive | May, 2013

Content with Content

13 May

I love Dairy Queen and Diet Pepsi.  In excess, neither of them is particularly good for me, but indulging in the forbidden now and then is enjoyable.

In my normal environment, I choose not to test the limits of my willpower and deliberately restrict access to both of these.  However, I recently found myself staying in a hotel where DQ guarded the entrance to the food court and Diet Pepsi was on sale (half price!).

Indulging seemed like a good idea at the time.  Because I don’t do this often, once should have been enough, but it wasn’t.  That test of willpower, remember?  A two-day bellyache redefined the term “intestinal” fortitude and reminded me that, although I got what I wanted, I also got some things I didn’t want.

And you know what?  I’m okay with that.  I am content.  I made a choice and I am content with both the content and the consequences of that choice.  After all, I did enjoy the ice cream and I enjoyed the soda, too.  I wasn’t thrilled with the rest of it, but it was my choice.  No one forced me.  It didn’t happen to me.  I made it happen, and I alone am responsible for the consequences of my actions.

Accepting the content of your life and your life choices leads to contentment.

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Happy and Content

6 May

Did you ever notice that you don’t make yourself happy?  That, no matter what you do or how hard you try, you really can’t make yourself happy? 

Did you ever wonder why?

Happiness….  Well, it just “happens.”  Happen-ness.  It happens to you.  You take no action.  It is entirely out of your hands.  Something happens to you and, if you’re lucky, it makes you happy.   You have no control over it.

Read that again: you have no control over your own happiness.

Now, that may sound depressing, but it’s not — because there is something better.

Better than happiness?

You bet.

Contentment.

Happiness is short-term.  It’s an adrenalin rush — that high you get when all feels right with the world for just that brief moment in time.

But like any other adrenalin rush, it can’t last.  What do you do when the moment is gone?  Do you mourn its passing and try to find another rush, another high, another happiness in a never-ending cycle of want, need, and desire for something beyond your control?

That’s a common enough reaction, but it doesn’t have to be.  You do have another option.  When the intensity passes and the excitement wanes, you can do something else.

You can be content.  

Contentment lasts.  Contentment is a choice, something you can and always will control.  That’s the glory of it.  Other things may make you happy, but only you can make you content.

Only you.  It is entirely in your hands.

In our society of over-achievers, “contentment” is often equated with “settling” (often followed by “for less”) but I would argue that contentment is something very different.

Contentment is satisfaction.  

You know that feeling you enjoy over a job well done?  Or maybe the pleasure you get from doing something nice for someone else?  Yeah, that feeling.  

That feeling lasts.  More importantly, it’s something you did.  You control it.  You made yourself satisfied.

And that, my friends — that satisfaction with yourself — is contentment.

Feels good, doesn’t it?