I had lunch today with a high school classmate I haven’t had a face to face with in 40 years. It was amazing. Thanks Susan!
It was such a pleasure to catch up, well at least as much as you can in an hour and a half. So many things we spoke of bespoke of lives lived parallel to one another. I hope we can do this again soon.
We touched on contentment and happiness. And since lunch I’ve contemplated the difference betwixt the two. Can you be content without happiness or happy without contentment?
If both states are found within our personal intellectual and emotional existence, then finding that ‘peaceful’ place within would seemingly lead to both happiness and contentment. It would also appear to be a solitary endeavor.
How can one be happy and content within if external factors are conflicted or inhibitive or imposing?
For example; imagine the mom standing at the sink, humming and washing dishes, content to accomplish her task and happy. She is winding down her kitchen duties and looking forward to a bit of knitting and a good book. Her mind is at rest. The first plaintive address of ‘Mom’ reaches into her head, but she brushes it off. It is followed by a more strident ‘Mom’. And then a series of ‘Mom, Mom, Mom’ issues forth, each more abrupt than the last. We could be talking about an office manager happily completing her weekly payroll when an employee interrupts with the same question answered a few times before. We could be discussing anyone being interrupted by anyone else under a million different circumstances.
There are two scenarios in my mind for the next part of this example. The first is mom’s peace is shattered. She turns from her task in frustration, deals with the child, and resumes her work feeling cranky and upset that her moment of relaxation and calm has been shattered.
The second scenario finds mom turning to her child in love and compassion, addressing the child’s needs, and resuming her task and her humming. She does not lose her peace and contentment over the interruption.
The second case mom is apparently very well adjusted. The first case mom is probably much more typical. How many of us would blame the child, or bad timing, or the universe, for the interruption and lose the moment out of frustration? How many of us really know how to find happiness and contentment within.
We shop. We Facebook and Pinterest. We watch Reality TV, we go to the movies. We look for anything to distract us from ourselves. We look for friends and lovers, husbands and wives. We immerse ourselves in religion. We search for something or someone to make us happy, to fill the void of our emotional well-being. And all along it is probably best found within.
We search for happiness and contentment.
How many people do you know that are happy all the time? I personally can’t think of anyone. I know people who are content with their lives. They don’t exactly love their jobs, but don’t hate them either. They aren’t madly in love with their spouses, but hold a deep and abiding affection.
There are so many nuances to the question of contentment and happiness. It is certainly a topic I would love to discuss in depth with someone smarter than I. I think I’m missing the days of my youth when discussions of this nature were common. It seems now we rush through life without analyzing the reasons we do what we do…just trying to make ends meet and fill every moment. I think it might be time to stop for a bit. Look at this mess we are a part of and ask how can I make it better for myself and those who will follow?
The following is rated ‘R’ for mature audiences who aren’t offended easily:
I mentioned that I was waxing philosophic to my son. This brought ‘wax on, wax off’, the line from Karate Kid the movie into the conversation. Zach asked if you could wax off without waxing on. Nope, not possible. You could jack off without jacking on or f**k off without f**king on. His response was that ‘on’ implied being above a surface and therefore the latter is always done ‘on’.
He’s a f**king genius.