A Growing Appreciation for Contentment
A Walk in the not-too-wild
At the Desert Museum in Tucson. The javelinas, the coyote, and the birds of prey. They looked peaceful and comfortable in their habitats. The sun on my skin and the wind on my face. I read the signs that warned me about the venomous creatures that might be hiding in the rocks or the bushes. But I wasn't afraid or anxious. I felt a sense of calm and joy.
I realized that I was happy with myself and my life. I didn't have any regrets or worries. I didn't want to be anywhere else or anyone else. I was content with who I was and what I had.
It was a rare and precious moment of self-acceptance and gratitude. I felt like I had reached a new level of maturity and wisdom.
I wanted to share this experience with you because I think it's important to appreciate the simple things in life. Sometimes, we get so caught up in our problems and our goals that we forget to enjoy the present moment. We forget to be kind to ourselves and to others.
But today, I’m thinking that happiness is not something that you chase or achieve. It's something that you feel when you let go of your expectations and your judgments. It's something that you find when you embrace yourself and your surroundings.
I hope you find your own happiness, too. And I hope you visit the Desert Museum someday. It's a magical place.
How to know if you are contented
What are the major signs of contentment for an older person to consider in self-examination? Contentment is a subjective feeling of satisfaction and happiness with oneself and one's circumstances. It is not the same as happiness, which can be influenced by external factors and fleeting emotions. Contentment is more stable and enduring, and it comes from within.
But how do you know if you are content or not? There is no definitive answer to this question, as different people may have different criteria and expectations for contentment. However, there are some common signs that can indicate that you are content with your life as an older person. You have a sense of purpose and meaning in your life. You have goals and passions that motivate you and give you direction, and you feel that you are making a positive contribution to the world and to yourself. And by positive contribution, I mean anything from walking happily in the park to saving the planet from climate change. No pressure.
You have healthy and fulfilling relationships with others, and you have people who love and support you, and whom you love and support in return. You enjoy spending time with your family, friends, and community. You feel connected and valued by others. And by others, I mean anyone who is not a telemarketer, a scammer, or a politician or some imaginary celebrity friend.
You have a positive attitude and outlook on life. You are optimistic and hopeful about the future. You are grateful for what you have and do not dwell on what you lack. You accept yourself and your life as they are, without comparing yourself to others or regretting the past. And by optimistic and hopeful, I mean realistic and pragmatic. You know that life is not a bed of roses, but you also know that roses have thorns. You have a balance between work and leisure. You have activities that challenge you and keep you engaged, but also allow you to relax and have fun. You have hobbies and interests that enrich your life and bring you joy. You manage your time and energy well, without overworking or neglecting yourself. And by balance, I mean moderation. You know that too much of anything can be bad for you, whether it's work, Netflix, or chocolate.
You take care of your physical and mental health. You eat well, exercise regularly, sleep enough, and avoid harmful habits. You cope with stress effectively and seek help when needed. You maintain healthy self-esteem and self-confidence. And by healthy, I mean reasonable. You know that you are not perfect, but you also know that you are not worthless.
If you can relate to these signs, congratulations! You are probably content with your life as an older person. If not, don't worry! Contentment is not a destination, but a journey. It is something that you can cultivate and improve over time. The important thing is to be aware of your own needs, preferences, and values, and to live accordingly. Remember, contentment is not about having everything you want, but about wanting what you have.
Major obstacles to contentment
What are the major obstacles to contentment for an older person and how can they be avoided? Aging is not easy, but it doesn't have to be miserable. We all face some difficulties as we get older, and they can make us feel unhappy or dissatisfied. Some of these difficulties are physical, like getting sick, feeling pain, or having trouble moving around. Some are mental, like feeling sad, worried, or scared. And some are social, like being alone, losing loved ones, or feeling unsupported.
But we can still enjoy life and be content in our older years. There are many things we can do to cope with these difficulties and make the most of our time. Here are some ideas to help you do that. Be active and healthy. Moving your body can make you feel good, lower your stress, help you sleep better, and prevent or deal with many health problems. It can also help you stay independent and mobile. Find something that you like and that fits your abilities. It could be walking, gardening, swimming, dancing, or anything else that makes you happy.
Learn and grow. Learning new things can keep your brain sharp, boost your memory, and make you feel proud. It can also help you find new passions and hobbies that make your life more interesting. You can take a class, read a book, learn a language, play an instrument, or explore something new online. There is so much to learn and enjoy.
Connect with others. Talking to people can make you feel less lonely, improve your mood, and give you someone to lean on. It can also help you share your stories, learn from others, and have fun. You can connect with people by joining a club, volunteering, or calling old friends or relatives. You can also use technology to keep in touch with people who are far away.
Be creative. Being creative can help you express yourself, deal with stress, and find purpose in your life. It can also help you access your inner wisdom and unleash your potential. You can be creative by writing, painting, singing or doing anything else that lets you use your imagination.
Be grateful and optimistic. Gratitude and optimism can help you appreciate what you have, focus on the positive aspects of your life, and cope with the negative ones. They can also help you attract more happiness and abundance into your life. You can practice gratitude and optimism by keeping a journal, saying thank you, meditating, or affirming positive statements.
Bliss Vs Contentment
Let’s have a little chat about bliss and contentment. You may think they're the same thing, but actually they're as different as apples and oranges. Or bananas and cucumbers. Or chocolate and broccoli. You get the idea.
Bliss is when you feel super happy, ecstatic, or delighted. It's like when you win the lottery, fall head over heels in love, or discover a new flavor of ice cream. Bliss is awesome, but it doesn't last very long, and it depends on things outside of your control. It can also be too much of a good thing, as it can make you lose focus and burn out.
Contentment is when you feel calm, satisfied, peaceful or serene. It's like when you have a nice meal, hang out with your buddies, or watch the sunset. Contentment is cool, but it lasts longer than bliss and it doesn't depend on things outside of your control. It can also be more rewarding and relaxing, as it lets you enjoy what you have and live in the moment.
So, which one is better? Well, that's like asking which one is better: pizza or cake? Both are delicious, but they have different qualities and effects. And they can go well together in different ways. For example, you can use bliss to spice up your life and get motivated, while you can use contentment to chill out and stay grounded. You can also have both at the same time, like when you're blissfully content or contentedly blissful.
The trick is to find your own balance between bliss and contentment, and to grow both in your life. Here are some tips on how to do that: Look for blissful moments that match your values and passions, but don't go crazy or depend on them for your happiness. Practice contentment by being aware of the present moment, saying thank you for what you have, and accepting what you can't change. Enjoy the variety and richness of your feelings, and don't beat yourself up for feeling either bliss or contentment.
Old farts should choose contentment.
But in truth, for me anyway, contentment is a better place to be emotionally than bliss. I suspect this is true for most all of us septuagenarians.
If you are in your seventies, you might have experienced some of the most blissful moments of your life. Maybe you fell in love, had children, traveled the world, achieved your goals, or fulfilled your dreams. Maybe you still do. And that's wonderful. But I'm here to tell you that bliss is overrated. And that contentment is a much better state of mind to aim for, especially as you get older.
Bliss is defined as a state of perfect happiness or joy. It sounds great, doesn't it? Who wouldn't want to feel that way? Well, there are some problems with bliss. First, it's not sustainable. You can't be blissful all the time. It's too intense, too exhausting, too unrealistic. Bliss is like a drug. It gives you a high, but it also wears off. And then you need more of it to feel the same way again. You become addicted to it, and you start chasing it. You become restless, dissatisfied, unhappy.
Contentment, on the other hand, is defined as a state of satisfaction or peace. It sounds boring, doesn't it? Who would want to feel that way? Well, there are some benefits to contentment. First of all, it's achievable. You can be content most of the time. It's not too hard, not too easy, not too idealistic. Contentment is like a meal. It nourishes you, but it also satisfies you. And then you can enjoy it again the next day. You become grateful for it, and you start appreciating it. You become calm, fulfilled, happy.
Another problem with bliss is that it's dependent on external factors. You need something or someone to make you feel blissful. Maybe it's a person, a place, a thing, an event, or an achievement. But what happens when that thing changes, disappears, or disappoints you? Your bliss goes away with it. And then you feel empty, lost, or sad.
Another benefit of contentment is that it's independent of external factors. You don't need anything or anyone to make you feel content. You can feel content with yourself, with your life, with your situation, with your choices. But what happens when something changes, disappears, or disappoints you? Your contentment stays with you. And then you feel resilient, adaptable, or hopeful.
One more problem with bliss is that it's comparative. You need to measure your happiness or joy against something else. Maybe it's another person, another place, another thing, another event, or another achievement. But what happens when that thing is better than yours? Your bliss turns into envy, jealousy, or resentment.
One more benefit of contentment is that it's absolute. You don't need to compare your satisfaction or peace with anything else. You can feel content with what you have, where you are, who you are, what you do, how you do it. But what happens when something is better than yours? Your contentment turns into admiration, inspiration, or motivation.
So there you have it. Bliss is overrated and contentment is underrated. Bliss is fleeting and contentment is lasting. Bliss is conditional and contentment is unconditional. Bliss is relative and contentment is absolute.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that you should never feel blissful or that you should always feel contented. Life is full of ups and downs, and we should embrace them all. But I'm saying that as we age and mature and grow wiser and happier, we should aim for more contentment and less bliss in our lives.
Still, keep in mind the Rattlesnakes.
I remember that day walking at the desert museum a few years ago, an outdoor, natural space, most of the dangerous animals locked safely and comfortably away in enclosures so that one could meander slowly and contentedly. And now Recall that sign with a reminder of it BEWARE OF RATTLESNAKES! Everyone who strolled along in this lovely natural world was being reminded that as carefully controlled as it was, still it had its shadow side, deadly possibilities out of anyone’s control.
Even in our most contented moments, shadows await our arrival and determine just how and whether we will pass through their dangers. Maybe this is the final word for contentment, no matter how deeply you feel it at any given moment, it is moving away from you. Maybe the biggest secret to contentment is the knowledge and acceptance that, like bliss and love, gain and loss, and winning and losing, it will all pass away one day so make the most of celebrating your time inside it when and while you can.