Is Contentment A Synonym Of Happiness?


When we are happy, we are content or is it the other way round? The connection between the two is so sublime and so enriching that it is difficult to tell the two apart. I am sure many of you would agree with me.

Contentment is that blessed state of mind, which transcends all levels of joy, elation and happiness as it has seen all of them. Even when it has not met these exquisite emotions, it knows how to make peace with life.

What is contentment?

  • It is the state of accepting what is the best for us.
  • It is cultivating the patience to surrender desire.
  • It is the serenity of reaching our potential.
  • It is feeling a sense of security and self-fulfillment.
  • It is giving up the tendency to compare ourselves with people around us.
  • It is the inclination to accept disparities.
  • It is that inner tranquility, which harvests happiness.

To my mind, contentment should be a synonym of happiness. When we develop an attitude of accepting what we have and promise ourselves to do better, to continue the efforts – that could be the state of being happy with ourselves.

“Supreme happiness consists in self-contentment.” —Jacques Rousseau.

What is Happiness?

We know that happiness doesn’t come from material possessions, power or wealth. Don’t equate the joy of acquiring more with happiness, which is a misnomer. Happiness is a profound feeling of contentment and knowledge that all the blessings of life are around us, only if we can perceive them.

Happiness lies in our hearts! We need to nurture it to keep it alive. Emotional upheavals keep jolting our happiness but contentment balances and stabilizes it.

The Happy Man:

Have you read the story of ‘The Enchanted Shirt’? This shirt was recommended for a king who could not get well despite all the medicines, which were prescribed by the royal doctors. The king’s men traveled far and wide to find a ‘happy man’ so that they could borrow his shirt to make their king healthy and happy.

The man who claimed to be happy was brought to meet the king, who requested him to give him his shirt. The happy man confessed that he didn’t have a shirt!

“Seek not to be rich, but happy. Riches lie in bags, happiness in contentment.”—Quaker William Penn.

Contentment is so fastidious! So is happiness…

It changes with time and space. It is always thinking of the next step, assuring us that it would be pleased the moment we take that step, betraying us the moment we reach there!

When we are rushing to fulfill our aspirations, it wants leisure. It says: go slow, enjoy life, and soak in the splendor of your achievements.

When we slow down, it craves for more! When it has enough time, it wants to pursue those hectic life activities. It disapproves a chaotic life yet it gets distraught with less commotion.

“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.”—Socrates.

How to be more content and happy:Contentment2a

Live in the present moment:

We have no control over the past. Present is the only asset in our hands, it is better to accept it and savor it. The moment it slips away, we’ll have another moment. Put all those moments together to derive the bliss out of them. Accept the challenge of the present to do something better that gives you inner peace. There is an inexplicable contentment in making others happy.

Make Leisure activities a part of your life:

Lower the frantic pace of life from time to time. Small breaks, weekend relaxation at your favorite spots, which may be just the backyard of your home, watching the treetops and the movement of clouds – they carry us into that unknown domain of contentment for a short period of time, when we can take stock of our life at large.

Don’t compare:

Comparisons often disappoint us, they breed discontent. They always give an impetus to unrealistic goals. Happiness and contentment cannot be described in terms of a fat income and a massive mansion, which may be devoid of the glow of good relationships.

Connect with family and friends:

Contentment blossoms in the hearts of those, who care for loving relationships. If we nurture our connections with love, compassion and empathy, if we stand by our friends, if we understand the value of each one of them, our life glimmers with eternal happiness.

Count your blessings:

Life can never be perfect. Contentment makes it so. Lets reflect on the blessings of life we have all around us, many of which have been given to us as free gifts that we cherish.

Give priority to your personal health and happiness. Join a laughter club.

Do you count your blessings? Does it bring contentment? Is happiness and offshoot of contentment? I would love to hear your views.

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Thank you for your support. Please add your valuable comments, they are much appreciated.

Balroop Singh.

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25 thoughts on “Is Contentment A Synonym Of Happiness?

  1. Such a lovely post Balroop. Thank you for this. I’ve been reading similar reminders elsewhere on blogs and it’s all sinking in. When I think of the word ‘contentment’ I think of a baby. When they’re fed, changed, rested and held they are content. So, I guess the basic needs of food, shelter, rest still apply for us as adults. Without those, there is little contentment and even harder to feel happiness.

    I love your list of requirements to have happiness such as appreciating the moment right now. Also, remembering how blessed we really are to have this life. Beautiful!!

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Thank you for liking this post…I was myself quite hazy about the two a few years ago and tried to find happiness in work, in the achievements of my children and in meeting people but when I look at those yearnings now, I feel they were just momentary gratifications. If our basic needs are fulfilled, we keep pining for more and more but there comes a day when contentment speaks to us to tell us the difference!

      Thanks for sharing your perspective, your words mean a lot to me.

  2. What great tips. I’ve only begun my journey into being mindfulness, and I have a large stack of helpful books lined up to help me on my journey. It’s so easy to lose sight of what makes contentment possible even though the criteria are quite simple.

    1. Hi Jeri,

      I am so glad you are making a conscious effort to understand these terms by being mindful and reading books that keep reminding us to usher in happiness and contentment into our lives. I agree with you – often we don’t pay much attention to very simple facts that keep staring us in the face.
      Thanks for sharing your view, I value it very much.

  3. Ok…once again….did my aunt call you???? For all I know she’s in India right now visiting with you LOL! She has been there many times. I’ve done a really good job with the how to be more content and happy areas EXCEPT living in the moment. Of course my biggest worry is losing the one whom I love the most and all of you know who that is – my kid. So, I’ve been suffering from unshakable anxiety lately and my aunt’s suggestions on prayer and mantra standing in the dirt to ground myself from below then call God and have him surround me from above has not worked. Thank you as always, Balroop 🙂

  4. Yes! she did!! Most of the time she spends with me these days!!!
    I know dear friend, I can very well understand your anguish and anxiety and in such situations all the words of empathy and benediction seem hollow. We refuse to pay any attention to all the good words in the world and feel miserable. We scoff at the comforting words, keep our hopes elevated and wish for good times to last forever.

    Optimism is the opium, which soothes at such times and that is what I can offer you, Mike and still say – living in the present moment and savoring the good times infuses great strength.

    Thanks for your continued support, I appreciate it truly.

  5. A wonderful topic, Balroop!
    I think contentment and joy are very different than happiness.
    To me, happiness is circumstantial. Contentment and joy are innate.
    In my own life, contentment came after a long and difficult journey. Perspective makes a big difference.

    1. Hi Denise,

      Your view is quite interesting! I have always thought that happiness is eternal, it stays with us, once we achieve it whereas joy is momentary and can be found in little moments.
      Contentment comes only after we have explored all the possibilities and experienced the tribulations of life but joy keeps visiting us from time to time.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      1. It seems our views are mirror images of each other! 🙂
        Very similar, just flip-flopped; which always makes me tilt my head a bit and consider another viewpoint. Thank you for always making me think outside my box, Balroop!

    1. Hi Brad,

      Thank you for liking this post so much that you have given it place under the posts you love! I am feeling honored!
      There is no doubt that contentment runs deeper because it balances and supports happiness. Only a content person can enjoy eternal happiness. I know, sometimes our dreams of happiness and contentment get a serious setback but that should not lead us to negative thoughts of losing these precious possessions.

      Thanks for sharing your perspective, it is greatly valued.

  6. Yes Balroop! Contentment definitely is a synonym for happiness from my perspective. While I use happiness as a word quite a bit in my own writing I just about always mean that feeling of content well-being rather than the giddy silly momentary pleasure that people often think of when they think of happy. That’s why the word eudaimonia actually works better as a reference but it’s difficult to pronounce and not that many people are that familiar with it… here is an explanation from my blog…

    1. Hi Kathy,

      I completely agree with you – “happiness isn’t just something you like to feel; it is actually more like something you “are”!
      People define happiness according to their own understanding and convenience whereas contentment eludes most of them. If the two of them don’t walk hand in hand, it is definitely what you call ‘silly momentary pleasure.’

      Thanks for guiding me to an awesome article and introducing me to eudaimonia!

  7. Hello; this was a wonderful post in line with my own values and those I share with others. Oprah likes to say that winning the lottery doesn’t make you happy unless you were already happy. she says a big windfall only amplifies who you already are. I like the quote from socratese that you shared. My dad used to repeat the line about how he bought he was poor because he didn’t have any shoes until he met a man who didn’t have any feet. counting your blessings is your most important point because the more time you spend counting them the more of them you will find you have. thanks again and take care, Max

    1. Hi Max,

      Welcome to my blog! Thank you for liking my post and I am so glad that it took you down the memory lane. You are right, if we count our blessings, we would be amazed at how much we have. Contentment is that stage of life when we develop the wisdom to know that we have the best of all that we deserve. Only we fail to acknowledge it.
      Thanks for standing by and sharing your perspective. I am truly obliged.

  8. Hi Balroop,

    Lovely post as usual 🙂

    Sorry for being late this time, just been little overwhelming at the family front with a loss of an extended family member, though glad to be here today. 🙂

    Yes, happiness and contentment seem to be sides of the same coin, yet they differ in their own ways. Happiness is a state of mind, as I always say, and I think you can become happy in a jiffy, if you want to of course. Being content happens when you are happy within or have achieved all that you had aimed for perhaps.

    I agree, you need to take life as it comes, live each moment and think of the happy times, be with your loved ones, and just let go of things out of your control. I wish it were all as easy for most of us as we get tied to into the daily rut of life and one thing just keeps on leading to the other….there is still so much left undone….I have a lot of that kind of a feeling, but then I tell myself to take a break and be happy with your daily achievement and tomorrow is another day 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this with us, a great reminder surely for me. Have a nice week ahead 🙂

    1. Hi Harleena,

      I am so sorry for the loss you had to deal with, it is quite upsetting. I have been consciously avoiding such occasions all my life but sometimes when it is unavoidable, I pen down my thoughts and sometimes they have turned out to be good poetry.

      The happiness that comes and goes in a jiffy is actually moments of joy – they can be created any time like organising a picnic or a get together with old friends but happiness is eternal, it doesn’t change with time and situation, that’s why it can be equated with contentment.

      I understand your point when you say… we feel that there is still a lot to do…and we keep going on and on! But that is life! It has to go on!
      Thanks for adding your view to this discussion. Have a nice week!

  9. Hi Balroop,
    I think contentment is the container for happiness. But there is something more to it. There is also the comfort we derive from being content. We are wise to be content whatever circumstances come our way.

    I recently read a book entitled, “Happiness Is” by Shawn Christopher Shea.
    He outlines five dynamic elements that play into the equation, which is why happiness seems so fleeting. They are our:

    1) biology
    2) perceptions
    3) relationships
    4) environment
    5) spiritual quest

    I agree with you… comparisons to others serves no healthy purpose. We all have distinctly unique differences that should be celebrated.

    When I count my blessings, you can colour me grateful from the day I learned about you.

    Kind Regards,

    1. Hi Bill,

      I like your prudent observation!! ‘Container for happiness’- what a unique expression! Yes, contentment is very comforting…that is why probably it appears similar to happiness. I have cultivated contentment over a period of time, taking cues from my hubby, observing his style of giving and forgiving, watching the discontentment of people around me and deciding I have nothing to do with such an attitude.

      Happiness is fleeting only if we are sceptical about our beliefs, if we keep pining and pretending we don’t, if we don’t trust our capabilities or underestimate our potential.

      Thank you SO much for counting me in, I feel honored! Thanks for your wise insights. they are like feathers to this discussion.

  10. I think sometimes it matters distinguishing words and sometimes it doesnt. Contentment is not wanting to be other than where you are. And that would make you happy, too, so I agree that they are synonymous! I like William’s answer, too. Contentment is the container for happiness! ❤

    1. Hi Jodi,

      I felt like discussing these terms because I have always wondered what contributes to our contentment. I have seen and felt that some people are never content. As I have cultivated contentment slowly, I found that it is truly quite difficult to be really happy. Masked happiness is transitory, just a window dressing…it actually comes with contentment.

      Thanks for sharing your view, always appreciated!

  11. Wonderful article, thank you for sharing. Contentment for me is that thing which cannot be defined. It cannot be put into words. It can only be experienced. It is a state of being characterized by an aura that we carry around with us, if only for a few fleeting moments at a time. And it is contagious. When we see others who are content, we can’t help but be pulled in by its magnetic charm. Given the choice between happiness and contentment, I would choose contentment. Happiness is skin deep, contentment is a deep rooted emotion at our core. Thank you again for a wonderful read!

    1. Hi Dave,

      You have given a fabulous definition of contentment though you say it cannot be put into words. Yes, feeling the ‘magnetic charm’ of contentment is the beginning of understanding how to cultivate it. When you choose one, the other automatically tiptoes into your heart.
      Thanks for such a lovely choice of words to describe these terms, often misunderstood and overrated!

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