We are not supposed to be always happy or think we are doing something wrong if we’re not happy – this concept is unhealthy. Happiness is like every other emotion – it comes and goes just like the weather, which is natural.
So let’s recoin the term as contentment instead. Contentment is a healthy goal to try to obtain and maintain. Do not aim to hold on tightly to happiness. You will undoubtedly bump into happiness, but no matter what, enjoy life’s mundane, simple, unique, and extraordinary moments and keep moving forward. If happiness passes, it will come back.
Contentment is achieved easier once your necessities are met. In other words, once your essentials such as food, shelter, and clothing are squared away, you are better equipped to explore excitement and what changes you want to undertake. When you establish clear goals, the path to achieving those goals becomes clear.
These goals should be important but remember that they may take time. Journey down the path to contentment, remembering that happiness is not the end-all be-all. Think about it – even when you are happy, you can think of numerous other things that could possibly make you happier. People often say they’ll be happy when they achieve their goal – once they get there. But then they stay where they are, stagnant and complacent, realizing years later that they are unhappy.
And happiness is ever-changing and fleeting – contentment is not. Being content with who you are, your choices, and how you affect those around you are what ground you and should be your focus. Contentment can be carried with you throughout life as it is in our conscious control, not linked to emotion. You can decide to be content right now.
To find this contentment, sit down and spend time seriously thinking about what you enjoy. Find things that make you joyful and define you as an individual. This exercise is more challenging than you think because as we age, so many voices that are not our own get tucked in our heads, sabotaging our contentment. These voices can make holding onto the things that give us feelings of joy and contentment challenging.
For instance, many men think they need to be a hardass all the time – tough and resilient. When they feel sad or down, they have others’ voices in their heads telling them to suck it up and be a man. “Don’t let it get to you!” Shut out these voices and focus on what you want. Do the things that bring you joy as much as you can.
Your life will fill up with the things you treasure, and contentment will become easier despite your circumstances. I am not always happy, and I do not always feel good, but I am content. I know my life is filled with the people and things I love that I worked to put and keep there.
Also, with contentment as a goal, it is a process. Ensure you are not comparing yourself to others, as they are not a measure of your worth. You are! Only you can try to be a better you, which may seem counterintuitive based on how the world sometimes feels. But, measuring yourself against others will only make you miserable and it harder to find contentment. Some men find themselves early, and some later. That’s perfectly okay.
Life is not a sprint; it’s a marathon, so you must cut yourself slack. We all start the rat race at different spots on the track. Once you figure out where you started, you can concentrate on looking at all the things you are and have accomplished given your starting point — rather than looking at other people and thinking that, somehow, you’re a failure compared to where they are.
Another critical point is that in this world of social media, comparing yourself and your life with others can get you down. Realize this is your life; if you are content, who cares what that life looks like. Strive for contentment and feel good about your life no matter what it may look like. But remember, just as people change, our goals and expected outcomes change too. It is okay – it’s life!
Most people continually strive for more and more, ultimately making themselves miserable because they are attempting to fill a void. Don’t get me wrong — I highly recommend drive & ambition and think both are vital to moving forward. But if they’re preventing you from being content in life and the bane of your existence, you must change things up.
Today’s hustle culture is destructive. So if you can create a good life for yourself, that is something to be proud of and be content with. If you get bored, set goals aligning with your values and priorities to push yourself outside your comfort zone. There is nothing wrong with being content with where you are. That is what many men are striving for! Contentment is the most incredible feeling in the world. You have succeeded when all you really want is what you need.