The Goal of Contentment

During the Holiday season, the pressure is on to be happy, happy, happy at all times. I personally prefer the word “content” to “happy,” and feel that it better describes how we should strive to feel on Thanksgiving Day and throughout the season. Although these words are used interchangeably, and it might seem to be even too small of a thing to bring up, it’s important to me.

To be content is to need nothing more, although wishing for something more is a very human and expected feeling. It is to feel that everything is OK just as it is, and lucky are those who can feel this way when they lay down at night. This is the essence of Thanksgiving.

Happiness is usually fleeting – you can be happy for minutes or hours, but to be happy for an extended period of time is an unrealistic goal for most people. Instead, aim to be content at all times with moments of happiness sprinkled throughout your days. To demand constant delight from ourselves or others is bound to lead to unhappiness eventually.

This Thanksgiving, give thanks for the smallest of things that make you feel content: the click of the heater turning on as you climb into bed, the water that flows as soon as you turn on the faucet, the coffee that you sip each day, or the shoes on your feet.

We too often overemphasize the word “happy” and inappropriately use the word “need.” We must learn to differentiate between need vs. want and happy vs. content. There is no better time to start than Thanksgiving.

“Don’t get caught in the trap of always “Needing” something. Needing something always projects your mind into the future as if you have it and is the opposite of gratitude. Be content in the present moment.” 
― Matthew Donnelly