Google Contentment and this is what comes up:
I dunno. Happiness kind of sells itself.
Merriam Webster offers the following definitions:
a: the state of being happy and satisfied : the state of being content
a: a state of well-being and contentment: JOY
b: a pleasurable or satisfying experience
After reading this, it is clear that these dictionary definitions and actual life [for adults] are two entirely different things.
When I was a kid, happiness was what I felt the first day of Summer, or Christmas morning, or racing into the surf on a family beach vacation.
I entered a state of bliss indescribable by today’s standards. Life seemed to open up like an endless universe, without boundaries or restraints of any kind.
Of course, I wasn’t paying the bills, cleaning up the Xmas mess, or worrying about making and keeping dinner reservations…to name a few.
I was just along for the ride, and a ride it was.
Then I got older…a lot older…and things changed.
While I got used to paying bills and dealing with responsibilities that came with adulthood, I never felt completely happy anymore. Something was missing, but what?
I had money. I had my health. I had friends and interests. What else was there?
That’s what was missing: Love. I needed a relationship to complete my life, to make me happy.
Then it happened and I was happy…for a while.
I say this not because I became less happy with my relationship, but because I became more and more content with a life lived in what felt a lot like emotional captivity.
Was I then a prisoner of my own delusions? Was this contentment really a kind of resignation that I wasn’t strong enough to walk away from someone I loved in order to find someone I loved even more?
In other words, was there something better out there?
When you love someone, you automatically fall victim to psychological paralysis that forces your hand.
You don’t leave because the enduring comfort it brings far outweighs the excitement that burns fast and dies. At least, that’s the hope.
None of us make it out of this place unscathed, so there’s a good argument to be made for finding refuge from a storm that is best left to novels.
Once you reach adulthood, happiness is something you work towards. It doesn’t come to you the way it’s used to.
It’s a series of fits and starts that, in the end, should leave us somewhere in the plus category.
It’s no longer one long string of ecstatic moments, not that it ever was. We just remember it that way.
In my life, instead of running the streets 6 nights a week like a banshee from hell, I am for the most part home with a woman I love, with 4 animals and a Macbook Pro streaming “Criminal Minds” through a set of Bose headphones.
This is as good as it gets, folks.
Life is no panacea. It’s just life, a place you mold for yourself, not what molds you.
If that were the case, we’d all be institutionalized.
The good news is that life has never been better, which you have to reality-check on a daily basis.
Our fantasies have a way of running away with us, which is why they’re called fantasies.
DEFINITIONS REDRAFTED FOR ADULTS
a: the state of being happy and satisfied, all things considered.
a: Moments of hyper-mania followed by life. [The same experiences it was when we were adolescents, but don’t remember, bills notwithstanding].