Happiness or Contentment? Which do you choose?
Whilst visiting a friend recently I saw that her baby has started to smile.
Which was adorable but also got me thinking - is smiling a learnt behaviour?
A week ago she didn't smile and now she does. She came into the world knowing how to cry and show sadness but she didn't show signs of happiness until she learnt how to smile.
So maybe happy isn't really the opposite of sad, maybe contentment is?
If a baby is content ie. fed, dry, painfree, and loved they don't cry but nor do they smile. They are just serence, calm, delightful, peaceful souls.
Then we teach them to smile, laugh and show us they're happy. They mirror us and we rejoice in this. But are we just teaching them a need to be happy? Can contentment be enough? No actually more than enough, can contentment be the ultimate emotional state?
The Buddha said "Contentment is the greatest wealth" (https://www.buddhistdoor.net/features/a-panacea-called-contentment) but we all seem to want happiness.
However, happiness is fleeting and unsustainable so there is always a need there. A need to have it, remember it or seek it. We can not always be happy as life sometimes is sad, frustrating, or disappointing. But if we have contentment, if we are truly, deeply content with who we are and how we are living we can maintain that feeling even when sad, frustrated or disappointed.
True contentment settles in your bones, holds you in a warm embrace, softens the breath, and reminds you to be grateful even during times of struggle. If you are content you seek nothing. You are at ease with it all - past, present and future.
I'm talking real contentment here.
Not "all my tasks are done so now I feel content" - No!
"None of my tasks are done and now I feel content" - that's the real deal.
An inner, unflappable state that is not altered by outside occurences or influences. Contentment that is not of the mind or even of the heart, as both of these are changeable and at the mercy of emotions. Whereas true contentment does not waiver. It is always there under the emotional waves and tides of thought. It is the deep stillness, the seabed of the soul that is found in the underlying core of us all.
So I choose now to give up the never ending search for happiness and instead focus on resting serenely, calmly and delighfully in the peacefullness of my contented soul.