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Content not Complacent

How to be Content without Getting Complacent

Too often we see successful individuals and feel that they must never be satisfied in life.  We strive and feel that we need more to be happy.  We feel that once we get that raise, promotion, bonus, or once we finally pay off our debt or once the kids go back to school, then we will be happy.  Marketing and sales professionals understand that they need to emphasize what is missing in your life and then show you how much better things will be if you had their product.  All of this seems to point to a choice between being happy or being successful but not both.  

The key to being happy is to realize that you have what you need and become content.  But the key to success is to be constantly improving and to never become complacent.

Being content means that you don’t need more to be happy.  Everything that you need at this moment you have.  It is a drastic shift from what we are taught but that doesn't mean others haven't explored this idea.  Lao Tzu advises this in the ancient text, Tao Te Ching, but somehow over generations the desire for more has overcome being content.  More recently Wayne Dyer has written books that speak to the idea that everything we truly need in life we already have.  But somehow we still fall into the mindset that we need more before we are happy.  

Complacency is different from being content.  Being complacent is similar to being lazy.  Often when we get upset with our current situation, but refuse to work to improve, we are being complacent.  A complacent individual is never working to reach their potential because they feel that it is pointless.  So they just go through the motions and do the minimum, always blaming external things for their shortcomings.  

The difference between contentment and complacency is a subtle one.  Being content means being happy.  Being complacent means refusing to work to improve.  As an employee it means that you are not unhappy with your position (being content), although you will continue to work hard to improve (not becoming complacent).  As an athlete it means that you continue to work to get better (avoiding complacency) but don't let winning or losing decide whether or not you are happy (remaining content).  

Contentment goes hand in hand with gratitude.  Being appreciative of the things in your life, you see everything as a miracle.  The complacent individual doesn’t see anything as a miracle and takes everything for granted.   So one way to start being more content and less complacent is actually to find ways to be more grateful for the things you already have in life.  

The key to being happy is to learn how to be content without becoming complacent.  Only by understanding the difference and then systematically working to improve yourself can you truly become content without being complacent.