The (Mostly) Lost Art of Contentment: Be a baby!

Posted: December 2, 2014 in Miscellaneous, Musings
Tags: , , ,

What does it mean to be content?

A quick look at the dictionary says “content” means that person is “in a state of peaceful happiness.” Are you in a state of peaceful happiness? How many people do you know who are content?

We’re bombarded with messages that to be content, we need MORE, more of whatever. We need more than our family and friends and generally that “more” needs to be bought. We need a bigger car, a larger house (never mind that our children have moved away), more food, a bigger TV, clothes with more expensive labels, to go to a trendier place, to have the latest phone/laptop/camera. To buy things is the way to contentment…until it isn’t. Until our family and friends buy more, do more, achieve more. Then our contentment is gone and needs to be purchased once more in some way.

No age is too young for the message. A few days ago, I drove by a store named “buybuy BABY.” . It’s a clever, memorable name, but one that epitomizes an attitude prevalent in our society: buying as a source, if not the primary source, of contentment and happiness.

When a baby is little, parents want the best clothes, the best shoes (even though baby’s feet don’t even touch the ground), the best crib, the best baby furniture (even though their baby doesn’t care about it, only they do), the best preschool (still four year in the future) , the best kindergarten, the best primary school, the best…. Who needs these things? The parents do. Do those things make a baby content? A baby is content when s/he is fed, dry, burped, not tired, and loved. That state isn’t achieved through any of those things listed above. It’s not gained through anything purchased, although obviously diapers help!

Small children will play with the boxes that held their Christmas gifts.  They don’t care whether their clothes came from babyGap or the thrift store; whether their shoes were purchased at StrideRite or Target. They may prefer going barefoot.  They want to be held, read to, played with, allowed to nap when tired (and sometimes helped to), and to be loved.  These things that make them content are both free and priceless.

Babies and small children are content with the basics. The rest is for parents and grandparents. You often hear, “Don’t be a baby!”  But when it comes to contentment, we need to be more like babies.


  1. Penny L Howe says:

    Excellent Janet, just excellent. Every single word, all sadly true, today!

  2. suej says:

    Nicely put, Janet…… Less is more in terms of acquisitions, but Western society doesn’t see this

    • Thank, Sue. Being content isn’t linked to what we have. In fact, it often seem to be the opposite. I think it’s a good time of year to think about what really makes us content and then focus a bit more on the needs of others.


  3. Hey, Janet. Nicely said. It’s the slowing down to realize what’s really important that counts; and sometimes the slowing down means watching a little one play with a box. Love the photo. It made me smile. J2

    • One of daughters’ favorite “toys” was a mattress someone was getting rid of and I put in the basement where they could jump on it. They also liked boxes and inexpensive craft things.

      The photo is of a little boy who was playing near me in the Frankfurt airport. He was so cute that I asked his mom if I might take his picture.

      Am I J1? 🙂

  4. Wonderful post, Janet. Children learn from their parents, and if the parents are content with the necessities of life, instead of always craving the luxury labels, their children will grow up to be well balanced people, and far less demanding.

  5. Good reminder especially this time of year. About twelve years ago, we relocated across country which required a lot of paring down of ‘things.’ Then in between the moves we lived a year with only what was in the suitcases. We learned a lot, and I became what some might call a minimalist. I find it very satisfying to not want, need, or have to store all that stuff anymore. 🙂

  6. Great post Janet. I totally agree that we don’t need anything for Christmas but the company of our family. I am totally broke at the moment and live week to week. My gifts to my family are what I can do for them, not what do I buy for them. 😀

  7. Amy says:

    So well put, Janet! Thank you so much for the reminder of having basics and enjoy free and priceless things. Great post. 🙂

  8. Bumba says:

    They have iPads for toddlers too! Currently the country is in…Shopping season. Most people are brainwashed. It’s sad. But your message is a positive one!

    • Nice to see you, Bumba. I enjoy getting gifts for people but when we have to rack our brains for things we want, it’s good to realize we’re truly blessed and that “things” aren’t what make us happy. Parents have to really work at keeping their children’s feet on the ground as far as things go. I figured we’d need to spend money on our daughters eventually, so why bother when they were happy with simple things and didn’t need more. 🙂


  9. It’s so very true. I finally realized that the freest I’ve been was when I owned very little! 😀

    • I’m working now at trying to get rid of things. When we moved just over a year ago, we had to move in a week, so needless to say, we got rid of a LOT of stuff. But we also moved a large amount because we didn’t have time to go through any more. We also have things belonging to the one daughter that’s still in college and has nowhere to keep them. I’m also a saver, especially of books, which are the most difficult for me to pare down. But you’re right, Linda. Lack of “stuff” is very freeing, so long as you have what you need.


  10. Wonderful reminders, Janet and a lovely photo too. 🙂

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