Contentment v. Complacency

Contentment v. complacency

I’ve been trying to develop a blog post on the concept of complacency versus contentment for the past month. Initially, I thought it would be an easy enough analysis. Just like any stream of consciousness blog I’ve written, it should be simple right?

  • Step one: look up the official definitions of both words
  • Step two: take definitions and provide insight using personal experiences
  • Step three: conclude with at least one take away…hopefully

But the more I thought about it, the more the lines of both concepts continued to blur. Probably the most challenging part of this analysis for me is the current relevance it has in my life. Any analysis I do will always have some sort of personal connection and with that, comes many variables to unpack lol. To self-reflect is one thing, to effectively articulate that self-reflection is another. So, after sitting on this topic for a while, I decided to just let the post unfold however it unfolds. Whether there will be a clear point at the end, the world may never know…and with that, I will definitely be categorizing this post under “rambles” lol.

The definition of these two words are similar, both having to do with being in a state of satisfaction. The difference seems to be with the underlying attitude that accompanies the sense of satisfaction. Where complacency lacks motivation and the desire for growth, contentment typically utilizes gratitude as a vehicle for continued growth.

Contentment: noun. A state of happiness and satisfaction.

I was raised in an environment that values gratitude: being thankful for what one has at all stages in life. Which I still live by. Practicing gratitude is a helpful reminder of the progress we have made, however large or small. It is also a great reminder of the positive internal and external influences that have contributed to our progress.

There has been a self-care trend that I’ve noticed throughout the year called “gratitude journaling.” From what I understand, the concept is to develop a habit of gratitude through the creation of a daily list of people, things, circumstances, etc. The idea is to shift perspective in a positive direction by identifying, whether big or small, things in ones life to be grateful for. I love this idea. If anything, flipping back through such a comprehensive list is a reminder of how full one’s life can be. That’s always nice.

So, is contentment the appreciation of your current life circumstances, the recognition that it’s ever-changing and the acceptance that everything that comes with it is okay? My second question is: does contentment impede or foster growth? I would think that depends on the person. Thirdly, does contentment sans motivation plus time lead to complacency? These are the questions of life HAHA.

Maybe I have yet to experience what it means to be content because so far in my life I have always existed in some varying degree of fearing stagnation.

Complacency: noun. Showing smug or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one’s achievements.

*cue Satisfied from Tony Award winning Broadway production Hamilton*

I suppose the most daunting part of complacency is the possibility of not knowing you are currently existing in it. Complacency to me means acceptance of one’s current circumstances and a lack of motivation for better. I think fear is a huge contributor to this. Fear of change, fear of failure, or even fear of success. Instead of facing fear, a complacent individual comes to terms with their current situation.

So, are you content or complacent? I don’t think it’s that simple.

Personally, I wouldn’t say I’m completely complacent because…again my constant fear of stagnation that has resulted in my continued vision for things bigger than even myself lol…Or maybe I have yet to experience enough life to jade me to the point of complacency…yikes.

Maybe we all ebb and flow between contentment and complacency…and it’s ultimately on ourselves to decide when to keep moving forward, when to take a pause and if so, how long to take a pause.

On that note, this stream of consciousness seems to have once again boiled down to balance. Like everything in life, balance is key. It’s okay to feel content; I would think it’s great actually! To be proud of the achievements you’ve accomplished without regret of any part of the process, that’s amazing. It’s even more amazing to use that feeling as fuel to do even more positive things in your life. I also think it’s okay to be complacent…for a short period of time. Sometimes we need the time to brood, compare and ultimately motivate ourselves to restart that engine of motivation. That’s why regardless of what state of being we are in our life, it’s also good to build an army of people around you that will slap you right in the face, whether figuratively or literally (I mean…different people need different things? haha), to remind you exactly what you need to be reminded of.

What are your thoughts on contentment and complacency? 🙂

Side note: The exploration of these two concepts may have stemmed from the fact that I’m currently reading The Alchemist by Paul Coelho. Yes, I know I’m late for the game. But for those that don’t know, or for those who read the book ages ago, the heart of the story is recognizing one’s aspirations and making the decision to chase abstract dreams and transform them into a tangible reality. The story is also a navigation through the idea of whether life happenings are obstacles to overcome, stepping stones or both? lol. I realize that description may sound like the plot of maybe every Disney movie out there, but trust me, The Alchemist has thought-provoking perspective that is worth the read. It’s a book that can be interpreted in many ways.  ❤

Here’s to a happy New Year!

Sincerely,

Melissa Beee

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