Happiness, meaning, contentment

 

There is a difference between happiness, meaning, and contentment.

Happiness tends to come from events matching our desires and wishes. We get what we want. The good thing about happiness is that although – or since – it’s fleeting, it’s often pretty easy to come by. A good movie, a nice walk, a delicious meal, a beautiful sunset, spending time with people we like, getting anything we want, and much more can trigger happiness.

A sense of meaning may require a bit more work. It’s requires some engagement, intention, and clarity about what’s meaningful for us. It can be contributing to society or life, creating and sharing something, developing connections with loved ones, bringing up children, a spiritual path, and much more. A sense of meaning tends to be more lasting and less dependent on circumstances. (Apart from what we “pay into it” through our engagement).

Contentment is a bit different from both happiness and meaning. There are many ways to talk about or explain contentment, and here are some that come to mind for me. It can come from integrity and following the inner guidance, the quiet voice. It can come from a sense of wholeness as who (as a human being) and what (Spirit, Big Mind) we are. It can come from a basic (stable) awakening. It can come from having healed whatever temporarily covered up the contentment that’s always here. As with meaning, contentment is somewhat independent of life circumstances. And to the extent there is awakening, embodiment of that awakening (realignment of our human self), healing, and maturing, it’s more independent of life circumstances.

We are born with a certain baseline for respectively happiness, sense of meaning, and contentment. And at the same time, we can invite in each of them. We can arrange our life so we have more moments of happiness. We can engage in meaningful activitites and bring more sense of meaning into our life. And we can explore healing, maturing, awakening, and embodiment and find a deepening sense of contentment that way.

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Highs, happiness, and contentment

 

There is a distinct difference between highs, happiness, and contentment.

A high is euphoria triggered by a number of things including entertainment, good news, sex, an opening or awakening, caffeine, or a variety of drugs. It makes us temporarily feel good, partly because it distracts us from uncomfortable feelings, painful thoughts, and in general anything unresolved in us. There is nothing wrong with feeling good but it’s helpful to see if we seek it or latch onto it in order to avoid something uncomfortable. If we do, it’s something we can look at so we can find more freedom and fluidity around how we feel, and welcome more wholeheartedly and be more OK with a wider range of feelings and states.

Happiness is similar, and it can perhaps be seen as a mild high. Again, it’s a perfectly natural state. And occasionally, it may be good to check in to see if we seek or try to hold onto happiness in order to avoid something.

Contentment is different. It’s a fundamental OKness with what’s here, with our experience as it is right now. That may seem a tall order, although it’s very much possible to taste that fundamental OKness in more and more situations. How do we find this OKness with our current experience? Through shifting into noticing and allowing. Through noticing that this experience is already allowed as it is (by awareness, space, mind, life). Through allowing and resting with our resistance (fear) to it. Through inquiring into our fear about it, and how our mind creates its experience of it. Through cultivating kindness towards it – for instance by using ho’oponopono, tonglen, or another kindness practice.

I personally prefer contentment since it allows me to find peace with whatever experience is here. If there is one thing we know from experience, it’s that our experience changes. States, emotions, thoughts and any other flavor of experience changes. It comes to pass, not to stay, as Byron Katie says. And that means I welcome and enjoy happiness and natural highs. I can even enjoy them more because they are less marred by a wish to make them stay or to seek the next high or a more permanent happiness (which may never happen).

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