Happy friday, friend! Oh, how I’ve missed writing to you! I wanted to talk a little bit about contentment.

I was in Dubai for a few weeks and have been reintegrating the last few days. Jet lag has been a struggle (being 11 hours off of my normal zone), but it’s been nice to give myself permission to be tired and come back into regular life slowly.

The trip was wonderful—I always love seeing new places and experiencing different cultures, but the best part was spending time with family that I don’t get to see often enough.

We were busy most of the time, but I did have a few quiet and reflective moments along the way.

We stayed in a beautiful desert resort for a few days. It was over 100ºF every day, so I welcomed any opportunity to hop into the pool and cool off.

Christian and I were up early most days, and I looked forward to starting my day off in the cool and quiet water. There was one moment I experienced when the sun was rising, I was in the pool, and the birds were chirping, excited for the day. I looked out at the desert plains and suddenly the birds stopped chirping.

All was silent for what felt like minutes, but was probably only seconds—It was almost like someone had put ear plugs in my ears without me knowing.

I had a quiet moment of bliss and peace where I realized I was just utterly content.

Not necessarily “happy” (or unhappy), but content. What’s the difference?

Contentment can get a bad rap—sometimes one uses it implying that one has settled for less than happiness.

But I view happiness as an emotion (rather than a state of being).

Just like sadness, fear, disgust, anger, and surprise. (There are of course more emotions, but these are the basic 6 that psychologists have suggested to be universally experienced in all human cultures.)

I believe all emotions are necessary to experience a full life. Happiness is one of them.

But can we really ever feel happy if we don’t also feel sadness or anger?

We can’t be happy all the time. Perhaps, learning to welcome all other emotions will allow us to experience happiness more.

The definition of contentment is something along the lines of “a state of satisfaction.” I’ve thought about that quiet moment in the pool every day since it happened, grateful for that peace. What I felt was not “happiness,” but simply not wanting anything to be different than it was right then in that moment.I didn’t need more. I didn’t want anything else.

Many also view contentment and happiness as one in the same, but I disagree.

Of course, it’s a matter of perspective. To me, striving for contentment is really about balance. It’s about living a meaningful life, not in pursuit of anything specific, or of one emotion over another.

When we focus on happiness and what we think will bring us happiness, we often focus on what we need MORE of. What we have now isn’t enough, and we have to get somewhere else to find it—to take ourselves away from the present moment.

That’s not to say we can’t be happy in the present moment—but focusing on happiness over contentment specifically can remove us from “the now.”

Some moments are happy, and some moments aren’t. But we don’t need to be in one of those happy moments to be content.

If we seek contentment, and we can accept who we are and where we’re at, life feels more meaningful.

Even with nothing, we can find gratitude for the sunrise or a comfortable breeze. Even with no one else there, we can talk to and learn from a stranger.

There is always something to be grateful for, and that is contentment to me. If we have gratitude and contentment, happiness is always welcomed, but not essential.

Don’t get me wrong, happiness is a wonderful emotion, but not necessarily a state of being.

I’ll be back on Monday with our regularly scheduled Brain Food emails! Thanks so much for being here and have a wonderful weekend.

ALSO: A few weeks ago I sent out the free eBooks for all of you and the Sweet & Savory Yogurts link did not function properly. You can download it here! I’m sorry for the trouble and thank you for your understanding!

Sending light and love your way,