Barton Goldsmith: Try A Little Contentment

Barton Goldsmith
Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Psychotherapist Barton Goldsmith shares how we can we can be content and even happy if we can learn to appreciate what we have been given.


Contentment is different from happiness, and it’s subtler. Contentment is a basic sense of satisfaction about your life and situation. While it can lead to a more constant flow of the happy vibe, contentment is also just a good place to be. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. No one can be happy all the time, so try settling for contentment. This may mean taking a good look at what you no longer have, or what you have lost. For example, I know I’m never going to play music at a concert venue again, and although this makes me sad, I’ve learned to live with it, because life has been pretty good to me in many other ways. It’s important to remember that when you lose one thing, something else wonderful can its place.
  2. The giddy feeling that comes with happiness, the one that makes us feel high, never lasts. It’s just a temporary jolt of brain chemicals, and sometimes it can leave you feeling blue when it’s over. Too often we guilt ourselves into believing that if we are not happy all the time, something is wrong with us, and that just isn’t true.
  3. Everybody has a different happiness quotient, and some people are just really good at pretending. So avoid comparing yourself to other people. Look at your own life, and allow yourself to feel good about where you are and where you are going. Your direction and position in life is probably just fine.
  4. If you really want to make a change, go for it. If you’re unhappy a lot of the time, then you need to do something to change that. Sometimes just stopping something you don’t like doing anymore and starting something new and interesting (or even exciting) can give you the mood boost that you need.
  5. If your own happiness is the end goal, you may never reach it. But if someone else’s happiness is what you are going for, you will live a life of contentment. Taking this path will get you to a place where you can actually feel some inner peace.
  6. Visualization, meditation, yoga, tai chi or even a simple walk through a rose garden may help you find your emotional balance. These moments of peace with yourself are where contentment begins. A little bit of inner peace makes you yearn for more. For me, when the sun starts to set, it’s time to smell the roses.
  7. Please be patient with yourself. It takes time to find a balance between what we thought we may have wanted and what we actually have gained. Finding a place for gratitude is a big part of the process. The end goal is truly not as elusive as you may think. We just need to learn how to keep ourselves in a good emotional place, and remind ourselves that we can be content and even happy if we can learn to appreciate what we have been given.
    (Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.” Follow his daily insights on Twitter at @BartonGoldsmith, or email him at
    ©2022 Tribune Content Agency, LLC
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