3 Tiny Secrets Of People Most Content With Their Lives

Take the reins to live your best life.

Woman stepping up her contentment game, moving her body in nature cottonbro studio | Pexels, vermontalm | Canva

Have you ever wondered why contentment and happiness are so elusive?  “I just want to be happy" is an expectation that teases (or plagues) many people. Most of us expect we can accomplish “happiness” easily! Unfortunately, many find themselves stumped by this simple wish.

To add an extra layer of fuzziness, we often think we want a flashy "happiness." In reality, the experience of contentment yields a quiet happiness that definitely doesn’t get enough press. Not experiencing contentment (which often feels like happiness) is one of the key reasons people seek therapists, coaches, counselors, or the comforting words of their BFFs.


The crazy thing is we all know what happiness is, more or less. People everywhere yearn for the feeling of quiet joy, contentment, and the knowledge that “all is well with me.” Happiness is usually something we notice either once we’re well into the experience or upon reflection after the fact.

RELATED: Happiness Isn't Sustainable — But These 3 Things Will Make You Content Forever

Though counterintuitive, trying to recreate “happy” with a recipe or by following the steps you’ve taken before usually doesn’t work, which is really weird when you stop to think about it. However, it's not that weird if we consider that we often mistakenly seek happiness from things outside ourselves. Sad, but true.


Looking for happiness outside ourselves is like looking for the dish soap in the refrigerator when the dish soap can be found by the sink.

Put another way, we in the West have developed remarkable skills that allow us to perform and often perform well. Usually individually focused (which is the cultural norm in the Western world), performing requires identifying a goal and working like crazy to achieve that goal. Achieving goals is and feels awesome, however, the experience of “happy” in his instance is fleeting. Mostly because achieving goals is quickly followed by setting a new goal which we work to achieve, then setting a new goal to achieve, and on and on. The focus is on the goal. The reward we receive and often the congratulations from outside ourselves – or from our own minds – is because we’ve achieved something.

Feeling Happy = Achieving Goal. This is the recipe for happiness many people follow. And it's a great, effective recipe. However, when life doesn’t cooperate — because achieving the goal is out of your hands, too far down the road, or somehow utterly out of reach — the same mind that was ready to high-five everyone and was working on its recognition speech for achieving said goal, turns into a critic. Its words toward the part of us “that just want to be happy” are often sharp, dismissive, and, well, critical.

But, this article is not about that kind of happiness, anyway. Instead, this article is about three things you can do to plug into the inner self whose needs are simple. From there, they will help you slip into the present moment where contentment and happiness live.


RELATED: The Most Content People On Earth Live By These 4 Daily Rules

Here are 3 tiny secrets of people most content with their lives:

1. They closely examine something that’s living

Select something close by, something convenient. For instance, notice a leaf, a tree, or maybe a pet. Again, something living or that’s been living is the point. Even if you’re in a grocery store, you can swing by the floral or produce departments for a convenient object to study. Look closely at a flower bloom or a leafy head of red lettuce. A strawberry, pineapple, or rutabaga works just as well! Look intently at the color, the texture, the patterns of the leaves or petals from the plant kingdom. If you’re at home or out and about and see a dog, gaze at the fur or snout of a four-legged friend. Even better, as summer is almost here, notice the tongue of a dog or puppy flopping about in the heat. The cells that capture and provide important information to an animal's brain from his or her tongue or eyes are completely astounding.

puppy with tongue sticking out MPH Photos / Shutterstock


The point is to notice the details and intricacy of cells, systems, and life at your fingertips. Be aware of the miraculousness that created the form and pattern of this thing full of wonder and beauty. If there’s a scent, take it in. Savor multiple senses, if possible (touch, smell, sight, sound, taste). You may just discover that pets and plants are life's living poetry.

Also, let your mind focus and calculate all the steps that had to happen for you to get to this bloom, critter, or piece of fruit that you are experiencing. If you can pause for a few moments to reflect on that fact, all the better. It's really quite amazing.

2. They move their body

Of course, exercise discretion! Hurting yourself = less movement, at least, usually. But, move. Chair yoga is really popular now. Take a walk or a hike. Standing up from your desk and stretching your arms above your head, stretch your whole body by rolling onto your toes and reaching to the sky! S-t-r-e-t-c-h.

But don't move to check the box. Rather do so to feel how your body feels when it experiences elongating. Stretching is absolutely delicious when we let ourselves experience this simple thing. Move with the idea of moving your body so you can feel your body.


Again, use your mind and awareness to notice what and how you feel. A simple shower can also do the trick. Again, focus on how your skin feels when water cascades across your shoulders and down your back, chest, and arms. Shower cap secured, let the stream of water drench your face. (A shower is a passive way to experience movement. Let the water do the work! Your job is to notice how your body feels.)

RELATED: 10 Reasons To Exercise That Improve Your Body And Mind — That Have Nothing To Do With Your Physical Appearance

3. They peel their eyes away from the screen

The third trick is kind of baked into the first two. Look away from your phone, TV, device, or any electronic tool that plugs you into the world outside of your present moment. Set a timer — 10 minutes may be a great start.

If you are reading this article and your mind say “Oh my gosh! I’m so tired of hearing this!” I’m right with you. However, there is a point. And there’s something that might be somewhat new to you. The mostly imperceptible flash and movement of a lighted screen is super duper interesting to your brain. (Yup, queue “I just can’t get enough, I just can’t get enough, I just can’t seem to get enough…") This is what we unplug from. This flashing light, like a mini Las Vegas strip, is packaged and placed on the device you are using right now!


To start, for 10 minutes, seek natural light. For instance, sunshine streaming in through a window works well. The light from a starry sky and full-ish moon, or even an overcast sky with pillowy or varied colors of gray clouds emits a gentle light. Natural light can help us amp down and might be surprisingly novel to a brain that’s very attuned to screen time, especially when we provide our brains with several tidbits for focus and observation. We can ask: how does natural light affect me? What do I see in the clouds? What does a starry sky, a new, waxing, waning, or full moon evoke in me? How do I feel in the context of an expansive sky that stretches across my entire line of sight? By the way, this wonder is one of the things that draws people to beaches — besides the warmth of baked sand, lapping waters, a slower pace of life, friends, connection, and lots of fun.

Unplugging from the unnatural light of screens and into the natural light associated with the wonder of life, coupled with noticing how parts of our bodies feel, is the helpfulness of the third step. Noticing how we feel and how our bodies and minds respond to wander, away from a screen, is a down-and-dirty way to get into the present moment.

These three steps reveal something helpful to know as we explore the road to happiness:  Awareness, coupled with how we feel, how our body experiences the moment, and a bit of wonder, combine to create a turbocharged way for us to dive into the now.


The thing is contentment, like happiness, is experiential. Much as we would love to have our minds generate happiness and contentment, they cannot. Minds can generate thoughts, but it's on the level of the body that we experience life, happiness, abundance, and contentment. It's such experiences that tip off the brain or mind to assess “All is well with me.”

RELATED: What 95% Of People Don’t Understand About Happiness

Maria Comsudes is a Georgia-based writer, wellness coach, and contributor to YourTango. She has an MS in Professional Counseling and is trained in Alchemical Hypnotherapy, Naturopathy, and The DNA of the Healing process. She has worked with individuals and families for the past 15 years.