Passive. Complacent. Resting on one’s laurels. Unambitious. Mediocre.
Those are words some people believe are synonymous with being “content.” That somehow being content connotes settling for less than one might achieve.
I couldn’t possibly disagree more.
Contentment holds an important position on what I call the State of Mind Scale, shown below.
On the bottom half of the scale are Panic, Anxiety and Complacence. My experience indicates we’re all too familiar with the bottom half of the scale. Panic and Anxiety within ourselves. Complacence may be experienced vicariously as you watch the bum in the next cube phone it in — in a figurative sense. In a literal sense, the slacker would be too complacent to pick up a phone.
Contentment is the first mood heading toward the top of the scale. And you’ll note that it’s nestled right next to Striving. The placement is purposeful because the two live happily together.
Striving means seeking more. More money, more clients, more success, more fitness, more love, more opportunities, more vacation, more dessert. More. And there’s not a thing wrong with that. But it can’t be at the expense of being content with what you have or what you’ve done right now.
Contentment is feeling good about the choices you make about how you spend our time. It’s feeling good about what you got done today, even though it’s not everything that’s on the list. It’s feeling upbeat about taking steps toward getting that big new client, even if the contract isn’t yet signed. It’s patting yourself on the back for making good food choices at points throughout the day, even if there were a few “less good” choices made, too.
At the top of the scale Joy is what you feel when we see our first child or grandchild (or baby niece, nephew – you get the drift), or land that big client, or finish the half-marathon, or complete the tedious project. Joy may not come about every day, but when it does, you revel in it.
You want to spend as little time as possible at the bottom of the scale and as much time as possible at the top.
Striving is easy. You do that every day, often without thinking. Joy is wonderful but less frequent. But Contentment. That’s something that’s within your power to feel every day. Even many times in a day!
The choice is yours.
So if someone ever tells you that being content is for losers. Well, I guess we know who’s really losing out.