The thoughtful writings of another voxer recently inspired me to give further consideration to issues surrounding happiness and contentment.
Are they indeed the same commodity? For me, happiness implies a more temporary smile-on-the-face state of euphoria, whilst contentment constitutes a more mellow and enduring consciousness.
Perhaps like intermittent virtuoso instrumental performances playing over a background of lush symphony orchestration.
We are all familiar with the categorisation of people into the "glass half full" or "glass half empty" personality types. The published analysts of human behaviour all seem too eager to delineate black and white whilst ignoring all the pleasant shades of grey in between.
Let us retain the drinking vessel metaphor. In real life I prefer my old, battered, stained, non-symmetrical, once enamel coated tin pannikin, because it more accurately reflects my personality than does fine bone china with handpainted periwinkles. So, as is my wont to be different, we shall now consider my metaphoric pannikin and its contents of happiness and contentment. (H & C)
Western society is relentlessly driven to fill up with material possessions. It is almost an obsession. Beyond basic food, clothing, shelter and modest financial security your H&C pannikin will still remain considerably less than half full, no matter how many plasma screens, Lamborghini's and Ipods you try and shove in there.
So, how do we get to fill the pannikin? Some more highly intelligent and educated than me (or should that be I) have suggested three essential ingredients;
1. Something to do
2. Someone to love
3. Something to look forward to.
Over simplification? Yes. But it provides goalposts towards which we can kick. (I suffer from metaphor confusion) It does not mention the minutia we might encounter on the way down the field. Such things as the entire opposing team who are more highly trained, have a huge bodyweight advantage, and drink at the pub which is owned by the referee.
Then there is the very real possibility of sabotage from within your own team.
Some people have a vested interest in keeping us unhappy.
Our pannikin can only be filled by loving and supportive family and friends, good health and by harvesting blessings and memorable moments from our daily activities. Most importantly it should contain a healthy amount of love and appreciation of our own selves. A "knowingness" that we are living a life of good intent, and being useful and considerate to others.
Does the pannikin ever become 100% full? I suspect that would be detrimental to our wellbeing. Some sadness and discontent is a vital part of the human experience and it engenders an essential resilience.
If the pannikin were to spill over the edge after adding a few extra drops, I fear that we could lose something very precious that we were holding onto.
I will settle at having my pannikin about 80% full. Perhaps life was not intended to be any better than that.
Besides, I want to leave the last 20% available to receive random unexpected blessings, acts of kindness, a special moon-rise over the ocean, reunions with long lost friends, or the inspirational works of fellow voxers.