‘Happiness comes from contentment’
Or so my Yogi tea told me this morning! I have always found contentment to be quite a contentious word. I’ve certainly battled its connotations for as long as I can remember!
At 16 I had just 3 rules that I lived by;
- Never apologise to a boy
- Never run out of eyeliner
- Never settle for content
2 of which I’d say run pretty strong through me still to this day.
Content, (to me) has always meant settling with what you have been given and making some kind of compromise . Surely life should be lived, how you want to live it?
When I was 16, growing up in an adventureless, grey old town -being content (to me) meant lacking ambition and aspiring to nothing more than a lifetime spent around a bunch of lacklustre individuals who worked mundane jobs and drank far too much white lighting on the weekend. It was certainly a world I didn’t feel I belonged to.
Perhaps contentment is something I’ve always deemed unachievable because that voice in my head always screams ‘NEXT’ way louder that it does ‘well done’. For me life’s an ever-flowing journey, so whatever I’m doing, wherever I am at – there’s always a next.
I just can’t believe that people EVER get to a stage where they accept their lot. Isn’t that just giving up? That’s not to say that I don’t believe in happiness, it’s just that I don’t understand how anyone can feel they have achieved everything or equally that they don’t care to achieve anything.
There is so much life to live and I’ve seen all too close how this life can be taken away from us much too early. The world in its vast beauty needs 100’s of lifetimes to explore. There are billions of people on this planet to connect with, so many languages to learn and an abundance of nature to discover.
If I’m going to get super psychoanalytical on myself, maybe my lack of contentment is a greater feeling of not belonging somewhere. I’ve moved around the UK a fair amount and I have always had seriously itchy feet, so I am working on building a digital business that will allow me to travel anywhere in the world as long as I have my laptop.
All this leads me to raise the question… Is contentment actually linked to a feeling of belonging? To a cause, a community or even a future? As the founder of the Sisterhood community, I believe this was my underlying reason to create it. A lone wanderer at heart, I have always preferred to get on with things on my own – but after a great loss in my life of love and of my future – I found my female friends became everything to me. They listened, they held me whilst I cried and they reassured me. I will never forget this.
The glimmers of belonging I felt in these beautiful moments I wanted to share, the support I had from women who had lost and loved and lost again – I wanted to pay it back. Hence, Sistrhood was born.
Contrary to my Yogi tea advice this morning and my gypsy-like tendencies, I have been happy – I’ve laughed, I’ve smiled and I’ve celebrated. But I’ve never felt content.
I often hear friends who are now mothers talk about this sense of contentment they felt once they’d had children. Naturally, becoming a parent is one of the biggest journeys that you can undertake in your life – so is there something I’m missing in my understanding of all of this?
Can you feel content and want more at the same time? It all sounds a bit of a contradiction to me. Does the sense of belonging you feel as a parent, give your life a meaning that you can’t understand until you experience it yourself?
Once you are content do you stay this way or is it like happiness- a series of transient moments that come and go with the wind? Perhaps there actually 2 layers to it all. Being content in the moment and then being content with the bigger picture.
I was incredibly moved the other day when watching a Ted Talk by Andrew Soloman. Out of everything he said – what stuck with me was that no matter what happens in life – ‘forge meaning and build identity’.
If I’m to apply this ideal, then perhaps contentment is something that can be achieved once you have forged your own meaning in life. So having children could be your meaning! But, again I ask myself ‘do you ever stop building your identity and do you ever stop forging your own meaning’?
Contentment seems to be full of conditions and subclauses and it’s highly likely that it is completely different for each individual.
It seems that some people may never find where they belong or achieve the success they crave but maybe they are missing the point! That actually, these people are blind to the contentment that can be found in the present moment – that you are alive that you are living and that you have a future.
Is happiness only found in contentment? Or am I just overthinking a marketing tactic on my organic tea bag?