Prayer Warrior Feature: Are You Happy or Are You Content?
Oftentimes we are happy because of an event that has taken place (i.e., we need to be in a relationship, be married, get a new car, a new house or get a raise). We are looking for external factors to make us happy. Happiness is an emotion; it is subjective and therefore is due to something happening. Interesting enough, the pursuit of happiness is a constitutional right. It does not mean that you will find happiness or even be happy, but you can pursue it. Hmm…
Contentment, while often associated with happiness, it is something far different. Contentment is an ability to be at peace regardless of what your circumstances are and is oftentimes associated with joy. You can be content when times are good and when times are not so good. Contentment should not be confused with complacency. Complacency refers to a sense of satisfaction with how things are without wanting to make them better. With contentment you can be satisfied with how things are in the meantime, but still strive to be better. Contentment is about the art of surrender and gratitude. You surrender the need to be selfish and the need for external factors (people, circumstances or situations) to make you happy, and focus on the need to be grateful for what you do have. Once you have opened yourself up to gratitude, you allow contentment to reside in your heart.
To consider it a little deeper, happiness and contentment can be compared to a thermometer and a thermostat. A thermometer is an instrument that measures the temperature of the surrounding area. A thermostat is a device that is used to regulate the temperature of the surrounding area. Thermometers are measures, and their reading reflects reality as it surrounds them. Thermostats pay no heed to the world around them, and change the environment to reflect the setting.
In regards to happiness and contentment, happiness would be considered to be a thermometer. Happiness is temporal feeling because it is typically tied to emotions, meaning it is emotionally based, subjective, and refers to how one feels. Happiness is a feeling that is based on external circumstances it does not set the tone of the environment, but like the thermometer it reflects what is going on in the environment. Whereas, contentment would be a thermostat, because despite what is going on externally it reflects the same setting. If a person is content, then they will be content despite what is going on externally because internally they are at peace and balanced.
God doesn’t want us to be just happy; God wants us to be content, to have joy in our hearts regardless of the external factors that are going on all around us. Being content is our way of thanking God for every blessing He has bestowed upon us. Whether we have a job or not, whether we are married or not, whether we live in a house or an apartment, being content is to praise God despite the circumstances. Each day we have a choice to make: Will I be content with all that God has given me? So today, ask yourself: Are you a thermometer or a thermostat. Do you want to be temporarily happy or do you want to be eternally content? The choice is yours to decide.
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:11-12
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
K. Renee Hairston is a military wife, mother/stepmother of four children and an author who utilized her educational foundation in education and counseling, along with her personal experiences and combined that with her spiritual knowledge to create her first book, Wayward…Encouraging Words for a Jezebel Soul, which is available on Amazon now for purchase. To learn more, visit her website www.wayward-soul.com or visit her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/waywardjezebelsoul.