Contentment is the feeling that a hoped for state of affairs actually exists, and it is potentially a steady-state goal toward which which we might strive. Many people say they are seeking happiness, which is also a comfortable place to be, but it is only a transient condition where one has the belief that a hoped for state of affairs exists and is continuing to come into existence. Both of these words refer to moments when we feel pleasure, but we must acknowledge that pleasure is only a physical and emotional feeling of the moment, and it will pass the instant something unwanted comes to our consciousness. Happiness might last for much longer because it can endure some periods of personal unpleasantness and some pain, and it isn’t much affected by distant problems of other people unknown to us. Happiness can be decreased, but doesn’t end instantly as does pleasure, if some valued person, such as our President, is know to be having a personal problem.
Contentment is different and a difficult to abide by concept in that to be content a person must be willing to accept the entire world as it is. Contentment accepts the past with all its wonders and misfortunes, the present with all of its living pains and problems and the future with all its unknowns and certain deaths. A contented person must be content with the past because there is absolutely nothing that can be done to change the past, and the present too because it passes by so quickly into the past that in an instant it is part of that past. Most of the future is totally beyond any persons control too, or even any noticeable impact, as is the past. Thus, the only thing a contented person must concern himself with is that part of the future over which he may have an influence. When those limitations are accepted, and he can see clearly what can be done, and what can not be done it becomes easier to put all of his energy where it will do the most good.
Pleasure seeking as a goal is a constant scramble, and when the temporary pleasurable state isn’t in the moment that person is disappointed and stressed, and as that high state is transient the pleasure seeker is unhappy most of the time. The unhappiness brings on stress, and the stress devolves into depression, onto ulcers and eventually disease and early death.
The happiness seeker is better off than a pleasure seeker, because they are living in a more sustainable life. They can take pleasure in the good things they have accomplished, but their pleasure is different in that in can come at any moment they choose to reminisce over their success. Their happiness is brought about by constructive deeds performed by themselves and those persons whom they value. Thus, happiness is based on a useful performance, and not on a particular stimulation of the brain which is available with drugs or other extraneous stimulation. The contented person accepts reality as it is and seeks only to change those things over which he has some potential influence. Thus a contented person is not distracted by past failures, can have deep happiness in present success and take pleasure in the moments beauties.
The contented person has more energy to do what’s needed in life’s struggles.