Which do you pursue: happiness or contentment?
And do you perceive a difference between them?
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.