Initially, I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to return to the office for work. A friend went into the office daily because he liked having a separate working space from his wife, who taught violin from home. We started meeting up for fifteen-minute coffee breaks in some afternoons. The human connection made me love going into the office again.
During one coffee break, my friend told me he was at his maximum contentment. Without hesitating, I replied me too. During a Friday night dinner, I shared this thought - being at the maximum contentment in my life - with my girlfriends a few days later. Not me. Some reacted.
The phrase stayed for me.
First, I believe that I don’t need anything more. This year, I’m experimenting with no shopping and no new clothes. In four months, I have made three exceptions, all impulse buys I allowed myself. But for the most part, I have been digging stuff out of my closet, some even with price tags. I don’t need a bigger home, a better job, fancier stuff, more friends, or a different family. I feel abundant, healthy, and peaceful. How I get so lucky to have all that I have is what I think about often.
Of course, I still have “wants:” visiting new cities I haven’t been to and writing novels at the top of my mind. But these are not something missing in my life. They don’t exert negative energy. Quite opposite from that, these are future-looking goals that provide direction and positive energy in my life. How I love to think about traveling and writing during my free time from work.
The elephant in the room: what about a life partner? Don’t I miss having someone to cuddle with? A few things I’ll say about that. Having a man in a woman’s life is not all kisses and cuddles. Research has shown that with life expectancy increasing, the expectation of living with one partner for such a long time is not an easy ask. Married men live longer than single men, but it’s the opposite for women. Another article said having children doesn’t bring happiness, but being a parent could be the most meaningful thing in one’s life. However, more and more people find meaning in life in other ways. Ultimately, I don't feel incomplete because I already have enough love - self-love, friendships, family love, and professional respect.
Do I ever feel like I need someone to talk to? Who do I talk to when I get frustrated? A good friend asked me recently when she often turned to her husband for heart-to-heart. Being an introvert and pretty content, I don’t need to vent too often. And when I need to, I have my friends. And that’s more than enough.
Being curious about psychology and relationships more than looking for how to catch a man, I have been watching YouTub videos by a man who advises women how to get the men they want. He covers topics small and large, from how to send texts or how to leave someone toxic, and has quite a large following online. One of the videos is “Top x reasons why the modern man won’t commit,” or something like that. I watched it hoping to learn something about the male psyche. He is afraid to give up his freedom. He wants time and space to do what he wants to do. He doesn’t know if he can trust you. I was like, me (women) too!
The question you want to ask might be: will having a man in life increase my contentment? I am almost 100% certain it’s a no because of my personality and current lifestyle. Being around married friends, I know it’s not easy. It’s not all about cuddles and kisses. In fact, for the most part, it’s not. It’s about cooking three meals a day, doing laundry around the clock, raising kids for at least eighteen years of their lives, saving for college, taking care of in-laws, etc. I can see that having a man in my life may add spikes of happiness, but I wonder if my overall contentment would decrease if he is not perfectly suited for me. And we all know no one is perfect, including me, who is bad at confrontation.
Research has also compared contentment with happiness. Suppose I buy a pair of new sandals I like, and my joy surges. But over time, my happiness decreases to the baseline of my average happiness level, or I think it is contentment. The research suggests paying attention to the baseline happiness or contentment might be more important rather than keep chasing short-term dopamine spikes.
Then I ran into an NYTimes article, “The Finnish Secret to Happiness? Knowing When You Have Enough” that said, “When you know what is enough, you are happy.” Voila.
So a few weeks after my coffee break with my friend hearing him at his maximum contentment, I can still say, me too. Let’s hope it passes the test of time. Check back later!
“I feel abundant, healthy, and peaceful. How I get so lucky to have all that I have is what I think about often.” This is cool how you often incorporate gratitude into your stories. I’ve been thinking about how I need to practice gratitude more often. I wonder how much of that contributes to content and happiness.