Happiness vs Contentment

Which do you pursue: happiness or contentment?

And do you perceive a difference between them?

happiness vs contentment


I wasn’t a Spanish major, but I do remember learning  when to use ser,  “to be,” and when to use estar, also “to be.” The former has to do with identity — I am a wife and mother — and the latter is used for a temporary state or condition — I am tired of winter (Spanish majors, feel free to expound).

I see “happiness” as a state of being, a condition that comes and goes based on what’s going on external to me. If you’d asked me in my 20s or 30s which I was pursuing, I’d have said that happiness was higher on my scale. Who wants boring old stodgy contentment when you could have euphoric, exciting happiness?

But now? Now I know that dramatic highs and lows take a toll on my body and mind. Now I place a higher value on contentment, a trait I view as more enduring and one that comes from within. I’ve been cultivating inner contentment, which means I accept what is even as I desire to improve it.

I’d like to be able to say — even if it’s not proper Spanish — yo soy una persona contenta. I am a contented person.


This post is a part of #Microblog Mondays. What’s that? A post that is not too long. Head over to Stirrup Queens to join the fun.

16 thoughts on “Happiness vs Contentment”

  1. As a Spanish lover, I love the idea of YO SOY una persona contenta indicating a permanent state rather than ESTOY una persona contenta, a temporary state. Would that we could all attain it. Kudos to you for trying Lori!

  2. My first thoughts were happiness and contentment depend on the situation. In somethings, I would prefer one over the other, but I truly love how you explained your reasoning on the two. I agree.

  3. Love this! I was just thinking the other day how I would love to go back to my ignorant state of bliss when I had never even heard of infertility.
    I need to find contenment in this current journey!

  4. We don’t even really have “to be” verbs in Hebrew. Well, we do, but they only describe the past or the future. You can’t use them for the present. So you could say, “I was happy,” but you couldn’t say “I am happy.”

    I aim for content. I’m not a big fan of highs or lows. Too much energy expended in both cases. I like the middle road.

  5. I like this idea of happiness being a state, but one that can change. It’s very true in my own life. I’m now wondering if entering into this state consistently also requires one to be content? Sure, a person who is not content in life can find happiness, but it seems like it would be more of a rollercoaster ride. Hence striding for contentment may be the key to more happiness in one’s life.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

  6. The past few years have been a constant strive to be happy or be content. I would take either right now.

    But you’re right, the older I get (hello 45!) I want contentment with this life. I’m working on it.

    Really loved this post. Lots to think on. xo

  7. Growing up, I was considered an old soul—like at age 5 even. In retrospect, I think that may be because I was satisfied with contentment rather than over the moon happiness. One thing I always found interesting about Spanish is that they use “estar” with the verb to be married. “Estoy casada”.

  8. Great thought on the distinction between the two words… I feel like true happiness is when you’re happy with the life you have, and that sounds an awful lot like contentment to me. I feel like happiness is fleeting, but contentment is a consistent state of mind.

  9. Hmmm – someone above said that happiness brings contentment but I think it’s the other way around. I think contentment provides the base to experience more fully those moments of happiness. (Obviously, I agree that happiness is a temporary condition, whereas contentment is more long term.) If you’re content, in my opinion, even small things can make you happy – it doesn’t have to be some grand, euphoric EVENT! I’ve always been more likely to search for the state of being content, because it’s a much more secure, stable thing.

  10. I love posts that take apart the words and ideas that we take for granted. I strive for happiness because I’m goal oriented. But at many points in my life I have recognized that at least for now, I’m not going to reach those goals, so I look for ways to be contented in the present, until I’m ready to re enter the fray. I think too as one gets older one tends to be less future oriented and more present oriented and that suggests prioritizing contentment.

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