Remember those “Happiness is” cartoons with the two naked kids? They were happy every single day (maybe they were exhibitionists?). For the rest of us, happiness is a funny thing. It kinda comes and goes. We do or buy something that we think will make us happy – and it does, for a while. But then it gets used up or the novelty wears off and we’re not so happy any more. We have to chase the next thing that we think will finally make us happy. All the ups, downs, and chasing is exhausting.

Emotions go up, and emotions go down. Happiness is an emotion – as great you feel, you’ll sink that low when it wears off. Here’s the secret: you don’t want to be happy. You want to be content.

Happiness is an emotion. Contentment is a state of being. When you’re content, you’re peaceful. You’re not riding a high, you’re not chasing the next thing, you just are. And if we could get out of the desire-chase-happy-desire cycle, there would be much more contentment and much less suffering.

In the spirit of our happy naked cartoon kids, I’ve been noting some of the things that make me feel content – and maybe even happy!

Contentment is being home and barefoot
Contentment is hot pink toenails
Contentment is two Oreos and ice-cold milk
Contentment is a fluffy friend napping on my lap
Contentment is perfect pool water and a new floaty chair
Contentment is relaxing while reading the entire Sunday paper
Contentment is waking up to birdsong

When do you feel content? Does happiness feel different?