What is more important? Happiness or Contentment

We have a house help, named Gyanwati, at my native place in Lucknow, India. She is the most hard-working person I have ever known and I believe I will ever know. She works for around 14 families, cleans utensils, does cleaning and dusting, and other household chores. Needless to say, even 24 hours are not enough for her. She is married and is a mother of 3 daughters and 2 sons. Quite clearly, life is not at all a bed of roses for her.

But if you ask her, “How are you?”, anytime of the day, she will give you the brightest smile ever and say, “I am very good. Very happy to see you. God bless you.”  No matter what is going on in her personal life, she never ditches work. In-fact, her professionalism is exemplary and inspiring.

Sometimes her happiness, her smile confounds me. It makes me wonder how someone who gets hardly any time to reflect on life or think about future or even enjoy the present time can be so happy all the time. She has 5 children to take care of, a husband who is pretty ok only when he is not drunk.

So, what is it? Is it constant state of happiness or contentment that absorbs her?

I have heard her singing when she is working, it’s a melody even the best of the trained singers will be challenged to replicate. It’s melody of joy, of contentment, of love.

I am happy that I got in that college. I am happy that my boss is considering me for promotion. I am happy that I am marrying the person I love. I am happy that my son got his first salary.

Happiness is a choice and yet the moments that define this state are more or less similar for everyone and that shared emotion binds us together. The more we achieve, the more we feel happy, be it money or fame or love. But what differentiates people is their threshold for contentment. You can have all the love in the world that can give you moments of happiness, yet not leave you contented.

There are people who strive to be happy, who try to find those moments of joy in their lives that keep them driven for life. There are people who are contented with their lives, who are just constantly happy with what they have.

Anything more is a plus, but nothing less can make them wary. I can’t say what is better. I can’t say that one should always be contented with what they have because that would mean they should limit their expectations or aspirations. I can’t say that one should always be happy because that would dilute the significance of the emotion and its meaning.

But I would say this – Be hopeful. Find solace in music or exercise or something, anything. Keep trying. Keep working.

And most of all never lose that smile of yours. It is the most beautiful thing in the world and is the most beautiful gift you can give someone.

Gyanwati has cracked this puzzle of life. She cries when she has to, she yells when she needs to, but she never forgets to smile for herself. She finds strength in her singing; she enjoys her peculiarities.

Your smile can inspire someone. Do it for yourself. Do it for someone else out there. A smile has the power to make lives simple.


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