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blah, I wrote this once already but the Ether ate it when I hit post.
This is based on my comments I made on someone's entry on 'happy'.
I believe that contentment is the base emotional state. It is your emotional statis that your body naturally returns to. I guess I would describe your contentment point as the point in which all needs/wants that you do not feel comfortable unless they're met, the ones you're used to having met on a daily basis, are met.
A simple one is hunger. We're all usually used to having that met, although the ammount of food stimulus to return us to our hunger statis varies per person. You become hungry when your food want is unmet - and you become starving when your food need is unmet.
This could be easily adapted to other emotions, like, say, lonliness - only replace food with various social interactions, etc. Other emotions it's harder for the example to stick to but I'd like to think it still works.
Positive emotions (happiness, etc.) work the same way in the opposite direction - needs/wants you don't require to get met to be content get met - rasing your mood higher, albeit temporarliy. But eventually you return to stasis whenever the stimulus that made you happy fades.
But if it's there long enough - that need/want you can get used to having it met, and it becomes part of your contentment stasis.
As such I find it weird when people ask "are you happy?" in psychological examinations or to rate my life. To me happiness is just as fleeting as anything else, but you can't say that without it sounding depressing, and that is not at all how I want to sound. A lack of happiness is normal - it's what makes happiness happy when it comes. ...and when you return to stasis, true, you're not happy anymore BUT YOU'RE NOT DEPRESSED - you're just not-happy. You're fucking content. The fucking way you're supposed to be.
And if that doesn't drive therapists insane, you should hear my rant I give when they ask if the glass is half full or half empty. Maybe i'll post that rant here too.
Contentment is something that I look for in everything. I don't look to be 'happy' (I may have already posted my thoughts on this, if not, I shall). I strive to be content in everything that I do, everything that I am involved in, everything that I work on, and everything that I am working towards. Existing in a state of contentment is much more comfortable than anything else I've encountered.
Contentment is not settling for less, it's not shooting too high, it's just right. It's the point of well being that is so far beyond everything else.
Contentment is sitting on your front porch with your dearest friends, maybe swinging life away on your porch swing. You don't need anything, you have health, you have food in the kitchen (even if it has been dumpstered), and you have a place to sleep (especially nice if you're 'forced' to share a bed with a bunch of your friends or on the floor beside your best of). It is the greatest feeling I've ever had to simply be content. To simply be without any disruptions (positive or negative).
Contentment doesn't raise your hopes, it allows them to exist.
I am glad to know that some one out there holds a similar idea of these things to myself.
Have a nice day