WHAT'S EVEN BETTER THAN HAPPINESS?

Happiness is promoted as our ultimate goal, but I've found something even better - peace, calm and contentment. #midlife #inspiration

WHAT AM I LOVING MORE THAN BEING HAPPY?

I had a strange feeling in my heart recently and I couldn't identify it for a while. It wasn't exactly sparkly happiness, or joyfulness, or elation, so what was it? It took me a little while to figure it out because it wasn't a feeling I was used to and it took me some time to put a name to it.

Finally it dawned on me, what I was feeling was contentment - and it feels good! I hadn't realized that I'd been going through a long drought of feeling less than content with my life. A lengthy period where discontent seemed to be my default setting, and I've come to see how unhealthy and dis-spiriting that was.

A STATE OF DISCONTENTMENT

I seem to have spent the last decade going from a soul sucking job where I worked for a boss who had delusions of grandeur (he even referred to himself as "god" many times!) and moving to a job that looked perfect on the outside but was completely toxic on the inside. You can't work with a self-diagnosed narcissist without getting traumatized by their constant theatrics.

Both these jobs had fed a sense of discontentment in my life. I wasn't miserable or defeated, I was just not satisfied and at peace with my situation. I resented my husband choosing to change direction and study during that time, I resented that he could be home while I went out to work, I was just plain irritated with all the crap I put up with during my work days while he had managed to step away from it all.

DISCONTENT ISN'T MALCONTENT

I'm glad to say that, although I wasn't content with my lot in life, I hadn't slipped all the way down the slope into becoming a Malcontent. I wasn't constantly unhappy with my life or dissatisfied with everything, I wasn't bemoaning my situation to everyone for all those years, I just felt like the work I was doing was taking away from my life, rather than adding something to it.

The trouble with being discontent with life is that it creeps up slowly and quietly and you don't notice that there are chunks of your week where you aren't living life on a level that makes your soul happy. I felt like I put my life on hold when I was working - I'd go, do my job, give it my best, get very little true appreciation or satisfaction from it, then come home and start living my real life again. This went on for years.

DISCOVERING CONTENTMENT

What I've noticed over the last few months is that I have a sense of peace, a feeling in my heart of being settled. I don't feel the need to strive, to prove my worth, to compete with anyone, or to relate to people whose values constantly clash with mine. I can actually feel my heart calming, it feels warm, it feels relieved, it feels.....content. That feeling of contentment has flowed into my world and dwells in me all day, every day.

I don't feel the need to strive, to prove my worth, to compete with anyone - LLC - #inspirationalquotes

It's there despite the fact that I thought I'd be itching to get back to work and to be "busy" again. I thought I'd be bored or missing out, but instead I'm comfortable with how things are going. I'm finding that I'm calmer and more at peace, more centred and more "me" now that I don't have to compromise myself to keep a job. The woman I job shared with used to joke that we knew how much our souls were worth because our hourly rate was what we'd sold them for. Sad but true! Now my soul is my own again - and that is a wonderful way to live.

CONTENTMENT VS HAPPINESS

So why is contentment better than happiness? I think it's because happiness ebbs and flows. We can't be happy all the time. We can own our reactions and responses to life and to other people, we can choose our attitude, but a constant state of happiness can be a little exhausting after a while.

Contentment is calm, it's quiet, it's serene, it's peaceful - and it's easy to live with. LLC #lifequotes

Contentment on the other hand is calm, it's quiet, it's serene, it's peaceful - and it's easy to live with. It nestles quietly in my heart and reminds me how blessed I am to finally be able to live life on my own terms - authentically. I don't resent my husband working from home, I'm content for him to be around in his office, working on his own terms. I love that we have time together and that's he's also content doing what he chose to do at this stage of life. We're in a really good place and that's part of the warm feeling too.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Are you content with your life? Is there anything holding you back from feeling settled and at peace? If there is, can you do anything about it? What is your opinion on happiness vs contentment - which do you see as the greatest prize?


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Happiness is promoted as our ultimate goal, but I've found something even better - peace, calm and contentment. #midlife #inspiration

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25 comments

  1. I completely get this. Even though I've had a lot of financial (and other) ups and downs since taking my redundancy and making my seachange I've been more contented than ever.

    Indeed, if $ wasn't an issue, I think I'd be happy finding some different kind of purpose for my life now - but sadly I'm still having to focus on the job hunt, so time NOT spent doing that leaves me feeling guilty and unable to afford to do a lot else.

    PS. I've long thought contentment far preferable to happiness (which is my world is more transient!).

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    1. I'm so glad that there's still that underlying satisfaction and contentment with the decisions you've made Deb (and sad that $$ still have to come into play - you need a Lotto win!) I can't wait to see what's next for both of us and where life leads us when we let go of chasing our tails :)

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  2. I agree with you Leanne and I love your quotes. Contentment is better than happiness, it says that all is right with our world and is a form of happiness but goes deeper. I'm so happy reading your posts and feel so happy for you finding this contentment from your new life.

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    1. Thanks so much Deb - it's just such a nice place to be in after so many years of that niggly little "it's not fair" feeling I've had in the back of my head. I don't know whether I'll stay in this place and time of life or if more changes are coming, but I like that I'm not being driven by negatives any more x

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    2. That's so good to hear Leanne! You definitely deserve this feeling of contentment. Shared for #mlstl . xx

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  3. Good for you Leanne. I agree a feeling of discontent does seep into your soul! I am content and getting closer to real contentment!

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    1. It's such a nice place in life to be in isn't it Haralee? I can't believe how discontent I was under the surface for so long. It's nice to be in my happy place now :)

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  4. I used to think that contentment was a cop-out - something that held you back from going after more. Since moving here I get it now. I used to feel so restless and discontented. Now, when I'm home, when I'm at the beach walking each morning, when I settle in to read a book, there's a feeling of "enough". Given that our income is half what it used to be that's a seriously weird sensation, but it's contentment.

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    1. That's what it's like for us Jo - half the income but so much less stress and that drive to always be doing or earning more has reduced enormously. I haven't noticed a drop in our quality of life from earning less, but there is definitely a huge upswing in my sense of being at peace and and the reduction in stress is unbelievable!

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  5. Happiness comes and goes but contentment is more common/lasting. It's a very undervalued feeling. Nice post #MLSTL

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    1. That's what I've come to realize Lydia - we strive so much for happiness and get so battered about as it comes and goes - when if we were looking to be content with what we have it would allow us a much steadier and more peaceful existence.

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  6. One of my meditation teachers taught me that life was lived in between the big moments. Big moments are weddings, births, deaths, etc. The extremes of emotions are felt at these events, but we don't live that way every day. Instead, we live in between those big moments and that's where I think contentment can live if we let it.

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    1. You're so right Jennifer - I think I'm settling atm and that serentity of not swinging up and down is blissful. I pushed myself for too long to be something that I wasn't happy being, to admit that and to just live quietly and contentedly is just lovely.

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  7. Hi Leanne,
    Your transition out of 2 "soul sucking" jobs has let you settle into this, I think. It's wonderful! Happiness, joy, elation, contentment in my opinion are words used to describe this feel but in varying degrees. No, one cannot feel elation or joy 24/7, but I think that contentment is a form of happiness...#MLSTL

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    1. Contentment has a happy back current to it - just feeling a sense of quiet happiness is enough for me now. I love those high happy times, unbridled joy is wonderful, but long term calmness and satisfaction with life has a lot going for it.

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  8. I relate to this post in a deep way. You said, "The trouble with being discontent with life is that it creeps up slowly and quietly and you don't notice that there are chunks of your week where you aren't living life on a level that makes your soul happy." That is exactly what happened to me in my former job. I liked my job and the people I worked with, but it sucked me dry. Because of the creep, I didn't realize until after I was out of it how discontent I was. Now I understand what it means to be content!

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    1. It sounds so similar to what happened to me Michele - you live life on thinking it's all okay, but when you step away from the stress/toxicity/lack of appreciation - or whatever, you gradually morph into a completely different (and much more pleasant) mindset - glad you found your way there too x

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  9. Leanne, I love the word contentment and often have that as the "emotional word of the day" in my morning journal. I adore how you've defined it as well! It's so good to hear that this is where you are these days.

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    1. Pat I hadn't realized how long I'd been mildly (to strongly!) discontent before this change in life. To walk away from all those little niggling annoyances and the belief that I had to just suck it up and get on with it, has been life changing for me - and I'm sure I'm a nicer person in the process :)

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  10. Hi Leanne, I had this conversation with my Saturday Sisters during a run. We all agreed that happiness is a state that many of us strive to be in but until we feel contented we will never feel happiness. Contentment is a sense of peace and yes happiness, a pleasant sigh and acknowlegement that life is good. Thanks for sharing your continuing experience of life after work with us and I can't believe we have made it to our 70th #MLSTL. Happy Anniversary BBB!

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    1. I know! 70 parties and still going strong - Go Us! And all our lovely linkers :)
      And yes, happiness and contentment go hand in hand, but I think that contentment has a lower grade, easier to maintain aspect to it. Once you get your life on track, contentment is like a byproduct - and what a lovely one to have :) x

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  11. "The trouble with being discontent with life is that it creeps up slowly and quietly and you don't notice that there are chunks of your week where you aren't living life on a level that makes your soul happy."
    Oh, so true! A great post that in your sharing causes us to look within too. Thank you!

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    1. Thanks Trisha - I had to admit that my life was exactly that sentence - so much of it was about regret or disappointment of "sucking it up". It's so lovely to be able to just go with the flow and to do things that make my soul happy these days - life just keeps getting better!

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  12. Hi Leanne, Contentment is a wonderful word and a wonderful world. This is where I like to live. I do understand the field of work. I was not aware of the great variety of philosophies in this field until I became immersed in it. It sounds like the players are not different in another hemisphere. I appreciate your candor. 'Values clashing' speaks volumes Calm and peace is where I want to live:)

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    1. I want to stay living here too Erica - it's a very peaceful and restful place to be - and so much healthier than the stress and toxicity that the world is happy to heap on us if we get too caught up in the rat race!

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