Contentment vs Happiness

I had a revelation the other evening about happiness, a topic I’ve thought about a lot since taking a senior seminar with that title my final semester of college. My revelation was on the distinction between contentment and happiness. In my thinking, contentment is about routines that you find gentle pleasure in, whereas happiness is more about the emotional peaks in a contented life. Another way of looking at the difference is that contentment is an attitude that allows you to enjoy ordinary events fully, whereas happiness is an attitude that allows you to enjoy unusual events fully.

My inspiration for writing this post comes from the fantastic mnmlist.com post by Leo Babauta “on finding contentedness”:

Most of all, I stopped the endless cycle of wanting more, of wanting
better, and realized I already had everything. I’m so much happier now.

I think the two terms can be synonymous, or at least ambiguous siblings frequently mistaken for being identical, but I think Leo’s path of minimalism and mindfulness is a fantastic path to at least contentment, and probably happiness too.

Apply a Cartesian attitude to your quest for happiness & contentment: reduce your emotional and physical baggage to a minimum, to what’s enough. Give it a try! Tell me what happens!

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