What is contentment? Is it the same as happiness? Some say yes, some say no. I say yes…..and no.
The dictionary describes contentment like this:
Contentment n. 1. The state of being contented; satisfaction. 2. A source of satisfaction: the contentments of a wonderful retirement.
To me, therein lies the difference – that one word: Satisfaction.
The last few days we have received a record amount of snowfall in this area. Just ten minutes from here we received 163 cm. The average around the area was about a metre. Some spots got more, some less. The storm started on Sunday morning and the snowsqualls finally stopped today. Needless to say, this led to a lot of closures – schools, government offices, banks, etc. The place where I work had a couple of half days and there were a ton of people that were pretty much trapped in their homes. My parents, who live out in the country, were literally trapped in their house. There was a 4 foot snow drift in front of the garage where they park their cars at the end of a long laneway. They weren’t able to go anywhere until yesterday when they finally were able to get someone to blow out the laneway.
So we’ve spent a lot of time cooped up in the house over the last few days. I was a bit of a dolt and helped my husband carry up the Christmas tree and tweaked my overly sensitive lower back. Then I was stupid enough to try to help him shovel heavy snow and I aggravated it even more. I ended up spending most of the day flat on my back with a heating pad yesterday. So I’ve had some time to think.
If someone asked me if I was happy, I would say yes. I have a wonderful family, the world’s most amazing child, a loving marriage, great friends, an okay job. I have everything I need to stay alive, a roof over my head, food, warmth, clothes, I’m luckier than many who have none of that. So yes, I’m happy.
So if the same person asked me right after they asked me if I was happy whether I was content, I probably would have said that the two are the same. Being cooped up all day in the house with my husband and my son for three days made me realize different.
How did I feel when I had nothing to do but spend time with my family, do a bit of knitting, watch a bit of TV, have an afternoon nap, cuddle a bit (or a lot), eat comfort food in front of the TV, put up the Christmas tree? I’ll tell you, I went to bed at night satisfied. Satisfied. When there was nowhere to go, nothing to do, just the comforts of my home and little family around me, I felt very satisfied, very content.
Happiness can be easy to come by if the conditions are right. It is something that we should all strive for. Contentment, that satisfaction with life and what it has given you, can be harder. Harder to come by, and should be treasured once you find it.