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Happiness vs. Contentment

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Published on Nov 3, 2011

Dr. Weil discusses the difference between the modern American -- and highly unrealistic -- view of happiness and what it means to truly be happy.

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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.

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