Instead of Happiness

by Frank Martin

Happiness seems to be a popular thing these days, but I’m not sure its really what people are looking for. Psychologically speaking, happiness is a passing state. Something that comes on either as a result of experience or sometimes spontaneously for no necessarily discernible reason, and goes away after a while. Instead of happiness, I think most people are shooting for Contentment, a psychological stage thats created internally and can be maintained regardless of what goes on outside. The question is, how to create and maintain this state? One way I’ve found is through the practice of gratitude, and the question: “What is missing?”

Gratitude: If you’re reading this, it’s a pretty safe guess to say you’ve got clothes to wear, plenty of food, a safe place to sleep, and people that care about you. Oh, and free time to read something posted by a random dude on the internet. i.e. MORE than enough. Beyond just reminding yourself of this, try keeping a gratitude journal. Every couple of days, write down three to five things you’re grateful for. Could be anything, doesn’t matter. No one’s going to see it except you. There’ve even be scientific studies shown to prove that this actually works.

What is Missing?: Look around you right now and ask yourself this question. Go ahead and do it now, I’ll wait.

Back? Cool. If you’re anything like me, a whole list of stuff popped into your head:
-books you want to read
-consumer electronics you want (I’ve seriously been considering getting an iPad. Have I mentioned I’m a Mac fanboy?)
-vacations you dream about
But really, do you NEED any of that crap? I think deep down we all know that list is bullshit. Not to say its not okay to want stuff, but to think it’ll make us happy finally and forever. Instead of pursuing happiness, go for contentment and happiness might just tag along for the ride. Contentment, simply put, is wanting what you have. It’s something entirely in our control, an internal, not external trait. Nor does it mean we can sit around doing nothing (I don’t know about you, but I’d be bored out of my skull)it just means we haven’t tied our sense of wellbeing to something that might or might not happen and may well not bring the results we want if it does.