The world is full of people looking for spectacular happiness while they snub contentment.
Addictive highs are often extravagant and almost always grandiose in their effect. Often, once in recovery it can become expected of everyday life that it carry a consistent sense of intensity and overwhelming experiential impact for it to be considered successful and relevant. The idea of ‘happiness’ as a goal is probably unwise, in general. Happiness is a mood, ultimately a temporary feeling that comes and goes only vaguely reflective of life circumstances. Contentment, on the other hand, is a deeper emotional state whose experience is much more consistent and worthy of pursuit. It occurs only when certain aspects of life have been truly satisfied—certain basic emotional needs met. A series of ‘quick fixes’ may lead to an experience of happiness but not to contentment. For contentment to occur there will need to be more of a personal understanding of one’s particular needs and a concerted effort to see to it that they are met. The path to contentment will be intimately different for each person and the path, too, will require effort to find. Happiness as a mood is a great feeling and should be enjoyed when it is present. As a goal, though, happiness is too shallow and unreliable a state to value more than the deeper pursuit of contentment.