Contentment vs. Complacency

There exists a delicate balance between contentment and complacency.

To live in a state of contentment is to gratefully accept your present circumstances, even when you must wait patiently to make the changes that you desire.

To remain complacent is to willingly accept the conditions with no awareness of shortcomings or deficiencies, or to lack the inclination to create better despite being aware that you desire something else. 

When you are content, you feel at ease. You act from a place of surrender. You take satisfaction in who you are and where you have arrived on your journey through life.

This does not mean that you are satisfied to remain there forever. Just because we are content to be, does not mean we stop working our plan. Having aspirations in life moves us forward.

Contentment requires the courage to say, “I am at peace with who I am and where I am in this moment, and as I continue working towards all that I desire, I trust that my next steps will be revealed at the right time.”  

To be happy, we must embrace the spirit of contentment without falling into the trap of complacency. When we find contentment in the moment, even if there are things that we do not like, we learn to be happy, uncover something about the situation to be grateful for, and connect with a serenity that comforts us. Yet, when we become complacent, we are often unhappy.

A helpful example is to use the analogy of a garden. To create a lovely garden, we must regularly tend the soil, plant seeds, and nurture our crops. As we watch our little seedlings grow, we can trust that something greater is on the way. We find contentment in our efforts, in waiting for life to sprout forth, in knowing that we are taking the initiative and working towards something, and so on.

To fully live with a heart of contentment does not mean that we stop working in the garden. Left unattended, things start to die. Weeds overtake the space. We have stopped developing. We are stuck in the mud and cannot understand why nothing is changing.

We have become complacent.

When people become complacent, they often fall into two different categories. First, sometimes people are unaware that they are stuck, much less aware of how they became stuck. Some people have become so disconnected from themselves that complacency has become the norm. They cannot see that they are in a rut. 

If all they see day in and day out is weeds, they may not think anything could be different. They are blind to the fact that they have the power to remove the bad and plant something good. Sometimes with the busyness of life, they have simply been pulled so far out of balance that they do not realize that things could be different.

Second, other times people are fully aware that they are sitting in the mud, but do not have the motivation or desire to do anything about it. They know they are stuck. But they do not change it. Maybe they don’t know how, so they don’t. Another point: often they are confused about what they really want. They keep trying to accomplish something that is not aligned with who they are and fail to understand why it does not happen.

They are aware but unaware.

They are aware that things may be slow, bad, or whatever word they use to express that they know they are stuck. For whatever reason, they do not change.

It’s like having their feet stuck in the mud while looking at their dead, dried-up flowers in the garden and saying, “I want a garden, but I don’t have one. I want to change this. But, I can’t. I can’t do it. It’s too much.”

Day after day, they look at the garden and think the same thoughts.

And you want to yell, “Yes, you do have a garden! You’re standing on one! Look at what you have. You have this lovely space for a garden. Some people don’t have that. Aren’t you happy that you can spend time peacefully creating a beautiful setting? Don’t you see you have the power to change it and create something greater? Lift one foot out of the mud. Just pull one weed and then another. Move down the line. One at a time. Bit by bit. You can do it!”

The lesson in this is that we must seek to live with a heart of contentment without allowing complacency to creep in.

How do we live with contentment without becoming complacent? I believe it requires balance- a balance between the present moment and forward movement. It is a process of accepting the now, while continuing to work towards the future.

Today, I challenge you to take an honest assessment of your life. What do you need to accept in order to allow contentment to permeate your being? What do you need to change so that you avoid becoming complacent?

Continue reading my keys to contentment to help you get started…


Keys to contentment:

  • Give yourself permission to say, “I am enough in this moment.” Your ability to accept starts with your capacity to accept yourself. When you can accept yourself, you can accept other people, you can accept the situation, and you can accept anything else you have to face.
  • Appreciate the simple joys, even when there are things you want to change about your circumstances. Be grateful that you are standing on top of a garden! It may be mud and weeds, but it can still be a beautiful garden. 
  • Let go! Most people are hanging on to way too much that’s dragging them down and keeping them stuck in the mud. 
  • Live in the moment, and breathe in the moment. You will be blessed with the peacefulness that comes over you when you gratefully acknowledge that you have this moment and this breath, which means you are still alive!  
  • Keep planting seeds and working towards all that you desire. Embracing contentment does not mean that you need to stop chasing your ambitions.
  • Correct your thoughts. Your mind will try to tell you that your situation is terrible and that you can’t do it. Silence that lie mid-thought! Your situation could be worse. And yes, YOU CAN DO IT!
  • Keep your eyes in your own lane- or on your own soil! Comparison is the root of a great deal of unhappiness. Use whatever you’ve got and all you’ve got. There’s no one like you, and no one else has your unique gifts. So stop looking over at Betty’s rose bushes, because maybe you can grow the best sunflowers! 




Dear Reader,

You were not created to stay stuck in the mud and settle for mediocre. Believe in your ability to achieve greatness!

I know your circumstances might be difficult right now. What is life teaching you? There is something you can appreciate about this moment and this time in your life. Sometimes, we all have to wait patiently. Waiting does not mean the end. You are being prepared for something.

Be thankful in every circumstance. Keep planting seeds. Gratefulness and steady progress yield an abundant harvest.

You can do it. I believe in you!


All the best,