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Why You Should Strive to be Content, Not Happy

4 MIN READ • 4th December 2022

Stop waiting for something to happen and make today the day you embrace joy

Have you pressed pause on happiness? We’re all guilty of it – letting things get in the way of moments of pleasure by focusing on what we’re waiting to achieve. Perhaps you think you’ll be happier when you earn more money or lose weight, or you’re waiting for a big event to take place before you concentrate on what you think will make you happy. But, while having goals and looking ahead is beneficial, the problem comes when this mindset stops us enjoying moments of joy that can be found in today.

Happiness isn’t a resource that you can run out of, after all – you don’t only have a certain amount available to you in your lifetime. So, why is it that we so often place caveats on it? For Francesca Gamble, a life and wellbeing coach and the co-host of the podcast Becoming More Human, part of the problem comes from our skewed view of happiness. “For many, reaching a state of happiness now feels like a job we have to add to our to-do list so we don’t forget it. But it’s beginning to feel like a job we may never get to tick off,” she says. “In my opinion, the word happiness is becoming overused and misrepresented in our minds. Why? Because our moral compass which defines our own state of happiness has been knocked off track due to our fast-paced modern-day living and the influx of social media. We simply want more – more stuff around us to make up for the lack of happiness inside us.

“To begin to flip this social construct around, I like to ask my clients how they can become more content in life rather than how they can become happier,” she adds. “Striving to be content rather than happy allows a shift in your mind and body to focus on the present moment and the internal self, rather than the material goods around us which we believe make us happy.”

Alison Callan, an accredited clarity and success coach and mindfulness consultant (alisoncallan.com), agrees that our view of happiness needs to be re-assessed – especially when setting targets for ourselves. In her view, it’s important to remember that it isn’t just the achievement of certain goals that can bring us joy.

“Goal setting does create bursts of adrenalin, motivation and satisfaction in relation to sticking on course or even reaching an aim,” she says, adding that there are certainly benefits that can be had from setting yourself targets. “However, happiness shouldn’t be seen as intrinsically connected to goal setting. Happiness is a state of being and available to us at all times, and therefore it’s not exclusively felt on achievement of a goal.”

Of course, there can be other things at play here, too. The act of continuously striving towards unachievable goals could be a sign that you don’t think you deserve happiness, or constantly waiting for the ‘perfect moment’ to do something could be the result of a lack of self-confidence or a sense of overwhelming fear. And there’s also the fact that as women, we’re often guilty of putting our own happiness on hold and prioritising that of others instead.

“A lot of women identify as care givers, natural nurturers and over achievers, so instinctively they’re predisposed to experience happiness by creating the opportunities for others to be happy first,” Alison says.

In these situations, she says it’s worth remembering how much your own happiness can impact others. “If we can see our own happiness being of value and helping others that can bring us extreme joy,” she says. “Be open to seeing the ripple you start that creates a wave, and watch how your relationships thrive as a result of your own joy.”

And what about finding this sense of happiness to start with? For Francesca it’s very simple. “By learning to live in the present moment and appreciating every little detail we can begin to find our own version of happiness,” she says. “Remember, it is not a collective experience, it is only defined by what you feel based on your internal happiness barometer.”

The question is then, what are you waiting for? Learn what brings you true joy, and embrace it with open arms today.

Discover joy today

5 ways to embrace happiness right now

Learn what happiness means to you

According to Alison, this is the first step to cultivating more joy in your life. “Understanding and defining your unique view of happiness is vital,” she says. “This self-awareness allows you to take control and make the necessary behaviour changes that can direct you to happiness. The ability to learn and accept yourself is paramount, and lends itself to raising your selfconfidence, therefore raising the happiness bar too.”

Quieten your mind

Being able to find a sense of inner peace is key in our quest for happiness. Often, we’re too busy rushing around and ticking things off our long to-do lists to really feel what it is we’re actually feeling. By stopping and listening to what’s going on in your mind and body, you can enjoy emotions as they appear. “Find inner stillness by coming back to your breath and enjoying a daily meditation practice,” Fran advises. “Seek clarity and calmness so you can feel inside more authentically when happiness and joy show up.”

Break down your bigger goals

There’s nothing wrong with having goals to achieve – but they shouldn’t be stopping you from feeling happy today. If they are having an impact, Alison recommends splitting your bigger goals into smaller daily or weekly tasks that can easily be achieved, and which allows you to celebrate success – and embrace joy – along the way. “This means that you can begin to make the intangible tangible and can enjoy regular success in the direction of the bigger goal for the future,” she says.

Take in the moment

There’s always something at any given moment that can make you smile. It doesn’t have to be something complex – it could be as simple as a perfectly brewed cup of tea or knowing that there’s clean sheets on your bed upstairs. “Write down everything that makes you happy in this very moment, now,” recommends Fran. “And then, cross everything out on your list that can be purchased or bought. What are you left with?” These are the things to rejoice in.

Move away from negative self-talk

Making happiness a priority means moving away from a negative mindset. We can all be guilty of comparing ourselves to others and focusing on what we don’t have, but try to replace critical self-talk with compassion for yourself. “Set reminders throughout your day where you actively check in on how you’re feeling and focus on what you need to move your dial more towards a happier state,” advises Alison. “Focus on your thoughts, and inner self-talk. If you want things to be different and you’d like the lower frequency thoughts to stop taking up so much space you will need to unravel them and change the stories and phrases. This is not an easy over-ride, but with time and patience you can be more compassionate to yourself.”

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