The Contentment Conundrum

I feel like I have spent my entire life searching after some thing that will bring me satisfaction. I can, and probably will, continue to dissect this urge for the remainder of my earthly life.

I have a vivid memory of Christmas morning as a child, seeing what today I would consider the embarrassment of abundance under the tree. I remember consciously thinking to myself, “There is happiness under that tree.”

My memory is equally as vivid of sitting in the living room, surrounded by torn wrapping paper and piles of lovely things and feeling emptier than such a small child has a right to feel.

I remember being ten years old and saving up my allowance of one dollar a week to buy a stone-washed denim jacket from K-Mart that I’d had my eye on. (Incidentally, this was also the day that I learned that sales tax was added on top of the purchase price in the state of Ohio, where I grew up, but I digress.) I was not even out the door with my fancy snap front stone-washed denim jacket (for which my mother had to chip in the ninety-eight cents sales tax) and I was already feeling the painful twinge of buyer’s remorse.

I have dozens of memories like this.

That’s all there is?

This isn’t what I thought it would be.

What’s next?

“Is that all there is?” asks the alley cat on Christmas morning.

Thoughts like these have leaked out of my unsatisfied soul for as long as I can remember.

An interest becomes an obsession. (I love this and I must have it.) An obsession becomes a by-all-(legal)-means-necessary drive to possess. (I will finally be happy once I have this!) Possession inevitably leads to disappointment. (I was happier when I was dreaming about it.) Disappointment leads to disdain. (This didn’t make me happy so it must be bad.) Disdain leads to self-hatred. (You thought that would make you happy? You fool!)

I have to believe that I am not the only person who lives this cycle out unendingly; I also have to believe that I am not the only person who wants this cycle to end.

I don’t just want to be happy. I want to be content.

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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