A Continual Feast

July 20, 2012

Welcome to Fridays with your Friends at Sunday Hatch.



It's no wonder that Contentment is often mistaken for Happiness, which we know is not a sustainable state, but I like to think of them as separate things. Happiness is what it's all about these days. The Pursuit of Happiness, The Happiness Project, Happy Hour. Everywhichway we look, someone's marketing a new means to happiness. 

Here's the problem, though . . . happy moments are just that: moments.  Short periods of extreme elation due to circumstance or happenstance. Even the most positive of people can't be happy for all time.  People seem to base happiness not on our internal state, but rather on external variables: "If I was just making more money" or "If I just looked like insert name of any skinny rich actress with microscopic pores and shiny hair here" THEN I'd be happy. The problem with that is it's only ever going to fill you up with joy for a few minutes, possibly a few days or a week. And then you're going to want more. And more.

Moment of honesty. For me and mine, it's usually money, or related to money.  There are so many things we could do if we just. had. more. money. That's what we say. And it's not all selfish. I mean, we would like to have enough money to where we could help people in need . . . like really help people, not just hand them spare change. I'd like to have enough money that I could give back to our parents, who have helped us immensely as a young couple. I'd like to be able to fund the Arts in my community or donate to worthy volunteer programs or launch environmentally friendly startup companies. But I would also just like more things, nice things, things for my house or my body, things to make my hair shiny, things to give me microscopic pores (you know they don't look that way on their own).  And it's sooooo frustrating, sometimes I want to scream like a two year old having a tantrum. I can literally make myself a nervous wreck looking at our pile of bills and then looking at our bank account. I can get angry, very angry, at those who have more, and I get jealous of their perceived happiness.

And you know what?  We were saying that two years ago, too. "If we just had a little bit more money each year we could do this and this and this." Well, we have more money now than we did two years ago.  And it's still "not enough."

So that leads me to believe that happiness is fleeting, and that euphoric feeling we associate with happiness is instigated by fleeting things: things that won't last and aren't ultimately fulfilling.  Contentment is the type of joy that remains.  Contentment is in the heart.

In my mind, contentment is a deep and expansive sense of satisfaction.  Since I love food, I picture it as being just the right amount of "full" after feasting on a delicious meal. Not feeling like you're going to hurl and not wanting for more. (Okay, maybe there's a liiiiiittle room for dessert.) Contentment is not immeasurable joy, but measured blessedness. You know that saying, "Count your blessings"? Well, I think contentment is when you've counted and you know and feel each and every one of those blessings. It is that moment when you're enjoying a colorful, crisp fall afternoon on a beautiful wooded trail with your hound dog running ahead and your hubby holding your hand, and you stop midstep because it dawns: I don't need anything but this.

If you can count those blessings of the heart, friends, and remember them, you will never be hungry for happiness.  You will have already found contentment, for a cheerful heart sits before a continual feast.

A happy heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.
The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on folly.
All of the days of the afflicted are bad, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast.

That's Proverbs 15:13-15, folks.

    As always, you can join me the other days of the week at alittlewhitenoise.


  1. very well said friend. Happiness is not to be achieved but enjoyed as it passes through :)

  2. I love "Contentment is not immeasurable joy, but measured blessedness." What a great reminder. Thanks Laurel

  3. I'm totes with you on the money thing.



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