by Stephen Mills on July 5, 2009


Being happy with what you have, while at the same time striving to be better or make things better is, I think, at the heart of being content.  Contentment is a component of the feeling of serenity and peace that I wrote about in Well-Being is Better Than Happiness, but I didn’t really think about it at the time I wrote that article.

So how do you get to the point of being content, of being happy with your situation in life?  What if you are not happy with your situation right now?  If you are taking action to change something you don’t like, you can be content knowing you are making a change!

Think about that for a moment.  You may not be where you want to be, but you can be content knowing that you are on your way.  In a very key respect you will never be where you want to be.  There will always be something  more.  That’s what life and growth is all about.  If you wait until you arrive at the always receding target, guess what?  You’ll be waiting forever.  You’ll never be satisfied and you’ll never be content because you never reach that final place. That’s just a wrong-headed way of looking at life.

A much better way is to be at peace with what you are doing now to change what you want and need to change.  Then you can be happy with where you are going and be content with your life as it is now.  What powerful and positive perspective through which to view your life in the present moment!

I have decided to be content with what I have now.  You can do the same.  Part of what I have now are the ideas actions I am taking to change and grow.  By consciously including them in the total view of my life situation I can be content right now.

I definitely have goals and things I want to accomplish.  I think growing through striving towards goals is a very important part of the good life, but the attainment of those goals is not the point.  The self-acceptance gained through the effort and the resulting growth is the point.  When you have that, you have gone a long ways towards contentment regardless of your current life situation now or in the future.

Our happiness, well-being, contentment, satisfaction, peace, or whatever else you want to call these states of mind, is primarily driven from within.  They come from the attitudes and perspectives we bring to our life situation.  Those attitudes and perspectives are completely within our control and so then are all those wonderful states of mind that we so badly want to achieve.

Some ways to enhance your contentment

Discover what you want to change and begin to change them.

This has been written about with billions and billions of words.  I think it needs no further comment.

Take an inventory of your blessings now.

You certainly have some or you wouldn’t be able to read this article written by someone who lives thousands of miles away and whom you will probably never meet.

Look for something good and beautiful in everything you do and experience.

Stop and smell the roses.


It is so much easier to be content when you have less, are doing less, want less, and see less.  So declutter and simplify your spaces and your mind.

Experience nature

I say this so much it is probably is starting to sound like a broken record, but it is critical.  If you can’t get outside then go for a nature walk virtually:

Be Present

The billions and billions of words comments again, but at least read my articles 🙂

Living Now – Part I
Living Now – Part II
Live Now – Part III
More About Living in the Now
Are You Addicted to Speed?

Here’s to your contentment!


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What do you think?  Leave a comment below.

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Accepting What Is Does Not Mean Giving Up — The Rat Race Trap
August 18, 2009 at 9:31 pm

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Jay Schryer July 5, 2009 at 11:38 am

I like this. It’s a slightly different take on the classic “self development vs. self acceptance” polarity. I love the message here, that you can accept yourself, AND accept that you are on a path towards becoming a better you. I believe this is a very empowering way of looking at life. Thanks for sharing!
.-= Jay Schryer´s last blog ..The Road’s Still Long =-.


Diggy - July 5, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Being content is one of the better things although its not always so easy.
I think it is about acceptance and realising “hey….it’s not that bad, and I’m on my way to my goal” and just being happy.

We can create our own happiness but it does take practice and training:)

Nice post! 🙂
.-= Diggy –´s last blog ..Get the body you’ve always wanted =-.


Karl Staib - Work Happy Now July 5, 2009 at 8:07 pm

The power of now is a vital tool to happiness. It’s been hard for me to cultivate within myself, but the better I get at it the more successful and happier I become.

It is about simplifying. Simplifying my thoughts so my monkey mind is running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off. 😉
.-= Karl Staib – Work Happy Now´s last blog ..The Target in the Bull(y)’s Eye =-.


Jacqueline Johns -Your Happy Life Mentor July 5, 2009 at 8:34 pm

I think many people are scared by the idea of change. The familiar is so comfy (even if it’s not good) and well…..familiar. Hey! Better the devil you know than the one you don’t! NOOOOOOO! The devil you know is keeping you stuck in an unhappy place. If you are stuck, then it’s time to take a big deep breath and dive into the idea of C-H-A-N-G-E. It’s not so bad. A change is as good as a holiday (can be even better). Growth needs change. We need growth. If you’re not growing you’re stagnating. Embrace change. It is our only constant. Whatever you don’t like about your life – change. Happiness and contentment await the changing you.
Live Life Happy!
.-= Jacqueline Johns -Your Happy Life Mentor´s last blog ..Happiness Study =-.


Vin - NaturalBias July 5, 2009 at 9:10 pm

This topic gives me a lot to think about. I have no problem setting goals, making changes, and working hard to achieve them, but I do sometimes have trouble being content with the present. I’m getting better, but definitely have some progress to make. Learning to appreciate simple things that are so easy to take for granted such as family and nature definitely help.
.-= Vin – NaturalBias´s last blog ..Celebrating Your Potential on Independence Day =-.


Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills July 5, 2009 at 10:46 pm

Hi Stephen, I love this topic. If we think of life as a journey we can easily relate to enjoying where we are today, while still moving toward a destination. On a journey we tend to be accepting and content with the sights and sounds of each leg of the journey. We may enjoy some parts of the trip more that others, but we are content to move through each stage on the way to our destination. Being content is a state of mind not a circumstance or situation. We can take it with us wherever we go.
.-= Jonathan – Advanced Life Skills´s last blog ..Learning to Celebrate Life! =-.


Giovanna Garcia July 6, 2009 at 12:21 am

Great post, a lot of wisdom here. Contentment is a fine balance between ambition and peace in one’s mind.

Thanks for the reminder.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action
.-= Giovanna Garcia´s last blog ..Are we Superficial? =-.


Oscar - freestyle mind July 6, 2009 at 2:45 am

When I realize that what I have is now, I can truly enjoy the present moment and therefore be content. Great article.
.-= Oscar – freestyle mind´s last blog ..Knowing what to improve in your life =-.


Arswino July 6, 2009 at 4:11 am

Hi Stepen, very insightful reading.
I like when you emphasized : “The self-acceptance gained through the effort and the resulting growth is the point.”
.-= Arswino´s last blog ..Each Day Is A Gift =-.


Evan July 6, 2009 at 9:02 am

Great take on this issue. I’ve never looked at as not being an either/or situation (being content with where you are, or hoping for something better), so this gives me a new way to look at things.


Tom Volkar / Delightful Work July 6, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Good stuff, I love the simple wisdom in what you say. A guy could go a long way just enjoying nature and counting his blessings. Acceptance is a beautiful place of contentment.
.-= Tom Volkar / Delightful Work´s last blog ..What’s Your Main Thing? =-.


Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching July 6, 2009 at 5:02 pm

Thanks for this. I had one of those moments recently where I recognized “my life is pretty awesome, and it’s actually just getting more awesome.” This post reminded me of that and how I’d like to have more such moments. 🙂
.-= Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching´s last blog ..10 Motivational Metal Masterpieces =-.


Carla Burke July 6, 2009 at 7:48 pm

I’m wondering how to get contentment when I’m already where I wanted to be, but I’m so stressed every day that I can’t enjoy where I am. I’m too stressed every day right now that I’m not enjoying anything. I’m striving to feel content, yet it seems to elude me right now. There’s no contentment in just wanting the stress of life to go away so I can enjoy the moment.
.-= Carla Burke´s last blog ..Sean spied a dragonfly =-.


CT Olson July 6, 2009 at 7:49 pm

Definitely a yin/yan struggle for me. I think for people who push for improvement in all things we get caught in the never being happy trap every now and then. It can be stressful! The trick is to do as you say and be happy where you’re headed but not necessarily content and for lack of a better term lazy. Interesting – not easy though for some including me.


Robin Easton July 7, 2009 at 5:02 pm

This is so interesting It makes me think of a comment I just left on a post by Dragos about looking at life as a journey and not as outcome after outcome. It changes everything and life becomes a rewarding journey not matter what is going on. Not that we can guide our ship; we can and must as best we can. But we also need to look at the bigger picture and encompass the “whole” in a great more compassionate, holistic way. It’s all Life and all a journey. Thanks for a great post Stephen. I always enjoy them. Robin 🙂
.-= Robin Easton´s last blog ..Is Nature Real? =-.


BunnygotBlog July 7, 2009 at 7:43 pm

This is a marvelous article you have written. I love the point taking inventory of your blessings now. It day one should reflect and show gratitude for their accomplishments. I have found that in even bad experiences, there is a positive side.
Great article – I really enjoyed it.
.-= BunnygotBlog´s last blog ..Advertising Towards Dummies – Teenage Illusions =-.


Dragos Roua July 8, 2009 at 12:35 am

What you have now is what you will always have 🙂 Because you can never live outside NOW.

I think you pointed very clearly the tensions that are making us grow: what we have in this moment, and what we want to achieve. What we want to achieve is never there, but what we have is. And contentment is a good name for what we have 🙂

Thanks for sharing this.


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