Print this page

Happiness vs. Contentment

Dr. Weil discusses the skewed perspective of happiness and what it means to truly be happy. Society says you must have the biggest house or the newest technology, but in fact it is more important to reach what is known as emotinal sea level and to be content with what you have, and then you will feel satisfaction. Learn more about the concept of emotional sea level.

See all of Dr. Weil’s videos here.

Video Transcript: Happiness vs. Contentment

I don’t think we have a great cultural idea of happiness. I think many people imagine that happiness comes from something external. If you get a new car, if you get a better job, a bigger house you’ll be happy, and I don’t think that’s great to depend on happiness on external things. Whenever I hear the phrase, “the pursuit of happiness,” the image that always comes to my mind is of racing dogs chasing a mechanical rabbit that’s always just out of reach. I think a much better goal of life is to be content. Contentment is an inner feeling of satisfaction that’s really not dependent on external factors. So in the book, I argue that really the goal of working toward optimal emotional health is to enhance contentment, comfort, serenity, and resilience so that you can roll with the ups and downs of life and not get thrown off too much. And I think it is not realistic to be happy all the time, we’re supposed to be sad or blue some of the time. You’re not supposed to get stuck there, but I think that’s part of the human experience.