Contentment versus Complacency

In my previous post, "Buried Treasure", I mentioned an article that said we should be content with what we have but not with who we are....that this discontentment with ourselves drives us to learn and grow.
In all fairness, I believe that what was really meant was that we should not become complacent with ourselves.
This prompted me to look further into the usage of the terms "contentment" and "complacency".
This distinction is important, because there seems to be an adverse reaction to the term "contentment"
Today's society seems to avoid contentment as synonymous with complacency.

We really do tend to think that contentment means stagnation....or like the article said, we must not be contented with who we are because discontentment drives growing and learning and if you aren't growing and learning you might as well be dead.

Do you believe that discontentment with yourself is a good thing? Ask yourself....when was the last time you allowed yourself to just relax and feel at peace with your situation in life?
Put another way, when was the last time you consciously gave yourself a holiday from the feeling that you needed to improve something?
Does this thought provoke a gut reaction? Perhaps a feeling of unease, as if by letting go you were really giving up?

Maybe this driving need to be up and doing is not a problem for you, but it seems to be a problem for society at large;
Pinterest, self help books (guilty!) , even the constant need to keep up with the latest news, or emails...that pull of the internet, the need to always be plugged in...

Restlessness.....this driving restlessness, is it really a good thing? Or is it keeping us from life?

So what is the difference between contentment and complacency?
I looked up both terms and depending on the dictionary, they could be used interchangeably. However, there is a slight difference in meaning:

Complacency is a smug satisfaction with oneself or one's achievements. It can be linked to self conceit and sometimes coupled with a lack of awareness of one's true surroundings (presumption)
Complacency implies pride and vanity.

Contentment on the other hand is a feeling experienced when one's wishes are met. It is to be satisfied; at ease with one's situation. Synonyms include equanimity, fulfillment, serenity, gladness and peace. The opposite of contentment includes restlessness, anxiety, fear, depression, and anger.

I think that contentment is an underrated virtue.
I think that we have tricked ourselves into thinking that contentment is a thing to be avoided, because contentment means complacency.
I think that the resulting need to be always "doing" is robbing us of joy and well being both mental and spiritual as we rush from thing to thing.
For contentment allows us to want less....to detach ourselves from the things of this world and simplify.
And simplicity allows us the freedom to contemplate what is really important.

For in the end it all comes down to this:

Why did God make you?
God made me to know, love and serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him in the next.


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