Contentment or Complacency? How to Know the Difference

Sheryl Crow once sang, “it’s not having what you want, but wanting what you have.” Although simple, that’s a pretty sound perspective on life, don’t you think? 

Contentment is such a beautiful thing; laced with freedom and oozing with satisfaction. 

And then there is her adversary, complacency… 


Being content means you are satisfied with where you are, what you have, etc. Complacency is an unawareness and apathy toward doing what is necessary to improve your situation. 

There is a very subtle line between contentment and complacency. While one is a blessing, the other is a curse. 

Contentment is the genuine state of being happy or satisfied despite having or not having the material possessions, occupation, health, etc. you desire.

Complacency is a negative attitude of apathetic satisfaction, uncaring of any potential dangers, consequences, defects, etc. 

When you recognize that everything you already have can make you happy, you experience contentment. You find genuine joy in what you have and where you are. 

I liken complacency to laziness. 

While complacent people may not be “satisfied” with their current situation or circumstances, they are also not willing to do anything about it. They typically place blame on external things for their shortcomings. 

The most rotten characteristic of complacency is the lack of “want to” or desire to work beyond a certain level, leaving no room for improvement. 

That is so sad to me because so much of what life has to offer can never be experienced when complacency is comfortable.

So, when you have reached a level of contentment, where is the motivation to learn, grow, and improve? Does that mean you’re discontent?

The motivation and desire to want to do, have, and be more doesn’t mean you are ungrateful or discontent. It simply means you’re a normal human being with a natural drive to get the most out of the life you’ve been given. 

Content people know that motivation and drive come from enjoying what they have and where they are, while also working toward new goals and achievements. 

Sister, are you longing for contentment? 

Begin by celebrating who you are, where you are, and what you have. Then, set your sights on more. And enjoy every step of the journey and achievements along the way.

Check out my book, The Sweet Spot, to learn how you can enjoy life more right where you are.

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