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Question of the Day: Contentment and Happiness 31 January 2008

Posted by SA'ILA in Psychology, SA'ILA, Spirituality.
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Will Smith’s character in the movie, “The Pursuit of Happyness,muses on America’s founders granting the American people “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” in the Declaration of Independence.  Happiness, in fact, has become the focus on many studies as many seek for lasting happiness in their lives.

Where does contentment fit into all of this? And what is the difference between contentment and happiness? Is it just a semantic difference? Or is there really a distinction between the terms?

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1. dilsenomad - 31 January 2008

I think the modern people understand these two words differently. Both of these are qualitatively different, one refers to a state of being and the other a state of feeling. I think happiness is related to feeling – for instance when you are hanging out with friends, something good happens to you – its roots are external. Contentment is a state of being its’ sources are internal; external factors become less important.

I would say happiness is centered around the existence of desires; and contentment is centred around the elimination of desires.

2. Umm Layth - 31 January 2008

Well, contentment is what brings everlasting happiness. Happiness without contentment changes with the good and the bad; sometimes up and sometimes down. Contentment, on the other hand, if you are blessed with it, you don’t waiver and it leads to that complete happiness that every human wants. This happiness would exist because you are pleased with anything that is given to you. You would not rely on good times to be happy and decide that it is time to be depressed when bad things happen. Acknowledging that Allah gives us everything to test us, to purify us, to make us better people, is what contentment is all about.

May Allah grant it to us. Ameen

3. VARANGALI - 3 February 2008

Salam Sa’ila,

Good question. I’m going to encroach on ABD territory here in suggesting an answer: to seek happiness as the goal of life is to lead an unfulfilled existence. Immanuel Kant has suggested that happiness cannot be the primary goal of humankind – or else we would be animals, full of instincts but not the rational ability to rise above them.

Rational ability is key to being satisfied (with having lead a fulfilled existence) – which I would equate with contentment. Contentment, then, is to rise above simply fulfilling our physiological needs; it is to lead life on a higher plane – the life of the mind (Aristotle) or a life of piety.

Happiness, inshAllah, is coincidental to the pursuit of a good, pious life. Contentment is one outcome of it.

4. shabana - 15 March 2008

. Happiness is all about contentment.

5. shabana - 15 March 2008

“The heart is the happiest when it beats for others.
The heart is the happiest when it beats for others.

6. shabana - 15 March 2008

Where your pleasure is, there is your treasure: where your treasure, there your heart; where your heart, there your happiness.”


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