Which one?


Over the last three weeks, I have engaged in one conversation with a number of people separated by time and circumstance and thousands of miles. Each one ended with a simple question. I am still crowned “Cruel & Unusual”.

Turmoil comes in many forms. Some of us are conflicted about jobs, relationships, circumstances and just life in general. When the conversation takes a turn toward dour or angry or despondent, I open myself for someone to see a vulnerable side of me.

For all of the things I do know, there is a large portion of things I do not know. When I do not know, I ask. Rather than merely dispense unsolicited (or even solicited) advice, I ask a question.

happy or content

In our dictionaries, the two have come to be synonyms, yet in the FAB (flesh and blood) world we subscribe very different connotations to them. Happy is a superlative feeling where content is the mediocre substitute of merely being satisfied. Content is being satisfied with good enough.

We describe ourselves as content when we have what we need. Our homes are warm or cool; our bills get paid-ish; our children pass; our Mates are present; our jobs are not lost. We have all the things we wanted in our youth and honestly believed would bring happiness. Still, with all the trappings of comfortable life, we are not happy.

Black HoleDeep in our souls, we see a hole. No matter what we throw into the hole, it never fills. We stand on its ever-expanding rim with the knowledge one day we, too, will fall into the abyss. We rationalize remaining in place with all our accumulated responsibilities and self-imposed dogma and generational tenets or morals.

Days turn into weeks as we put off our needs and desires in the interest of our children and our jobs and the welfare of our Mates and friends. Before we realize the calendar has changed, our opportunities to fulfill our innermost dreams slip into the hole which has swallowed our youth, physical health and emotional stamina.

bucketWe pen thoughtful bucket lists. More than half of the things we put on the list we are either too old or too frail or too smart to attempt. The remaining things are brass rings we can remember the conscious decision not to grasp when they were offered. Those memories fertilize the seeds of resentment and disappointment and unhappiness. No matter what we may have or have done, nothing can replace the genuine feeling of happiness.

The heart is light. The mind is clear. The smile is effortless. The steps are sure. The drive is strong. The confidence is high. The sleep is peaceful. The laughter is genuine. The eyes are open. The wonder is childlike. The fulfillment is orgasmic.

happy or contentThe question requires knowing who you are and what you want out of life. You have to know if you have what you need or have settled for what was comfortable, available or convenient. You have to know if you have sacrificed what makes you happy. You have to know if good enough is really enough to make you happy.

Are you happy or content? Which do you want to be?

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  1. I’ve always thought happy was a somewhat shallow goal. I think there’s a lot more to life than being happy. There’s nothing wrong with being happy, but I think one should strive to do something. Something significant or important or unique.
    Binky recently posted..Five Second RuleMy Profile

    • In my life, I have found those who are genuinely happy are more compassionate, creative and willing to solve larger problems than merely their own. True happiness is far harder to achieve than reading a kitteh meme.

  2. Red…. I’ve learned that it is possible to experience both at once, though it’s not either easy, or likely, without some practice… (sorry, I’m addicted to understatement…) Learning to be content with whatever one has is fairly simple, once ego is under control… but, being happy isn’t always as easy, as you noted… The key, to me, is the same answer… true happiness comes when one is content with oneself, flaws, warts, and all…. which comes from practicing the skill of viewing the larger picture, even when overwhelmed by details….

    Easy, right? Hah! Fooled ya…. Not easy at all, but, still, worth the effort…. Once again, letting go is the way to hold on… 😉
    gigoid recently posted..Forlorn moments of epistemological apprehension….My Profile

    • Amazing how the circular nature of the explanation brings clarity. Letting go (of the miring crap) is easiest while holding on (to the important things). All about decisions. Glad to see you, Ned.

  3. O—kay then. I can say for certain I am 95% happy and 5% content. In my younger days, life was a struggle blah, blah, blah but at my age I stand behind the statement above. I need less, I can DO more and can now concentrate on ME. Fabulous. I’ll take two. 😀
    Tess Kann recently posted..Flash in the Pan – MindMy Profile

    • Amen! So many believe doing more is less happy. For me, it never was nor will it ever be. xxx

  4. I am without reservations, happy for the first time in my life at the age of 58. I was content for a long time, occupying myself with personal goals and the love of family and friends. But what was missing for me was the love generating outward which filled me with what you call that orgasmic feeling of being alive. I have it. I believe I attained it by choice and circumstance. I let go of the people and things (material and activities) which were dragging me down. I let go of them suddenly and without remorse. Then I channeled my energy into moving toward all things in life which give me a sense of wonder and I closed the abyss which was waiting for me. I fell in love because I was open to love. I moved in with my love because for the first time I am cherished. I wrote because I was able to again, and loved it. I commune with nature because it’s my center of love and I see the stars at night and answer back to the Great Horned Owl outside of my study. I love my life, and I know it’s a rare feeling. Having known content, I didn’t think there was more for me.

    Now, having happiness, I know it will grow and florish and I know how to attain it despite challenges and health worries and age.

    I am lucky by design.

    Gail Thornton recently posted..Flash Fiction – RightMy Profile

    • What a wonderful rendition of happiness, Gail. I hope it will inspire you to write and design and create with a freedom from the mundane. Much love xxx

  5. I am unreservedly neither right now. I have been both in the past. I will be both in the future. I know the ingredients necessary. It is an issue of defining where I start and others stop and how to achieve my own happiness without doing harm to others.
    Valentine Logar recently posted..Not the Right ThingsMy Profile

    • I wish you godspeed in finding the boundaries again. I hope the current tumult subsides, as it just may be the catalyst necessary to find the peace. I love you.

  6. Life is certainly complex there is no doubt about that but to be happy in every single way is impossible to achieve, unless you know different of course?

    Seriously though, we all have dreams and aspirations, but in reality not everything that we want for ourselves can be realised, in a perfect world it would be different but we have to make the best of what we have and appreciate that life isn’t so straightforward.

    I guess that true happiness is different for everyone, and so the adventure that is life continues 🙂 Have a lovely afternoon Red 🙂

    Andro xxxx

    • I think some of my readers mistake happiness for a life without conflict or anomalies. I am happy, every day. There are twists on the coaster for certain, but without them I would not experience the adrenaline which reminds me I am alive. We are going to dig deeper into this concept soonly. 🙂 I appreciate your thoughts on this one. xxx

      • Yes without the bumps in the road how would we really appreciate the good things in our lives.

        A very interesting way of thinking about it and I will certainly look forward to your future postings, regardless of what the subject may be 🙂

        You are amazing my dear…

        Andro xxxx

  7. Hello Red,

    I guess its like when you ask someone “How are you doing?” I hate the answer, “fine” when i get answer, I dont know what to do with it. my reply is, “OK I was just checking” They always look at me funny. Good

    I am way past content, I am very happy. I just don’t worry about anything. I live each day as it comes, and I don’t hang around people that whine an complain all the time.

    I do get depressed and as another one of my friends say, “I crawl under a rock” I try to write, and make others happy and laugh. That always brings me out of what ever is bothering me.

    I don’t have a single problem that will matter in 100 years, so screw it.
    Tom Nardone recently posted..Bullshit 101 Part 1 | with Tom NardoneMy Profile

    • See, we agree on that! In 100 years, no one is going to know or care. Being so self-involved is always a waste of vitamin C. I am very glad to have you stop by, Tom. Do drop into the Green Room and leave a link to your blog so others can find you.

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