7 traits of people who are genuinely content with their lives

Some people have it all figured out—or so it seems. They walk around with a sense of contentment that makes you wonder if they’ve uncovered some secret recipe for happiness. You might even find yourself envying them, wishing you too could tap into that elusive state of satisfaction.

But then you start wondering: How do they do it? What’s their secret? Are they born with this trait or did they cultivate it over time? And can they really be as content as they appear?

In the grand scheme of things, these questions lead to a larger one: Why is contentment seen as an anomaly rather than the norm?

Shouldn’t we all strive for contentment in our lives, just as we aim for success in our careers or relationships? Why is it that, when someone appears genuinely content, we view them with a mix of admiration and suspicion?

It’s high time we change this perception. It’s high time we realize that contentment isn’t a rare gem to be coveted; it’s a state of being that we can all achieve if we learn to prioritize the right things.

By the end of this article, I hope to have convinced you that being genuinely content is not about having a perfect life—it’s about developing certain traits. Traits that may not align with what society deems important but have proven to be effective in cultivating inner peace and satisfaction.

1) They don’t chase happiness

One might think that the happiest people are those who constantly chase after joyful experiences, who pile up positive moments and try to avoid anything that might cause discomfort or pain. This, however, is a common misconception.

In reality, the most content people are those who have stopped running after happiness. They understand that life isn’t just about accumulating positive experiences—it’s about experiencing the full spectrum of emotions and learning from each one.

The pursuit of happiness can often feel like a never-ending race. Just when you think you’ve reached your destination, you see another goal on the horizon. This constant chase can lead to exhaustion and dissatisfaction.

Genuinely content people understand this. They don’t see happiness as an end goal, but as a by-product of living a meaningful life. They know that both joy and suffering are part of the human condition, and they welcome both with open arms.

2) They relish in routine

In our pursuit for excitement and novelty, we often overlook the power of routine. We yearn for new experiences, thinking they hold the key to our happiness. But the truth is, some of the most content people are those who have embraced the beauty of routine.

Contrary to popular belief, routine doesn’t equate to a mundane life. Quite the opposite, in fact. Routine provides a framework, a structure that can offer comfort and stability amidst life’s chaos. It provides a sense of certainty in an uncertain world.

This doesn’t mean that their days are monotonous or devoid of fun. Instead, they have found a balance between predictability and spontaneity.

These individuals have understood that routine can actually free up mental energy. By eliminating the need for constant decision-making about simple tasks, they are able to focus their attention on more meaningful aspects of their lives.

They start their day with a regular morning ritual—be it meditation, exercise, or simply enjoying a quiet cup of coffee. They have regular meal times, regular periods for work and rest.

3) They embrace solitude

This point was a challenging one for me to internalize.

We often equate being alone with loneliness, and therefore, something to be avoided. But the truth is, there’s a significant distinction between the two. To be alone is not necessarily to be lonely, and those who are genuinely content understand this.

Let’s delve into this further.

Think about a time when you were by yourself, maybe taking a walk in nature, reading a book, or simply sitting quietly in a room. In those moments, did you feel lonely or did you enjoy the solitude?

Genuinely content individuals appreciate these moments of solitude. They understand that being alone provides a precious opportunity to connect with themselves on a deeper level. This is not about isolation or withdrawing from the world. It’s about creating space for reflection and self-understanding.

It’s crucial to break free from the misconception that we always need to be surrounded by people to feel connected and content. Connection comes in many forms, and one of the most profound connections is the one we have with ourselves.

4) They practice gratitude for the ordinary

This concept was a revelation for me.

We often think we need extraordinary events or spectacular achievements to feel grateful. We wait for the big promotion, the dream vacation, or the perfect partner to express our gratitude. But truly content individuals understand that this isn’t the case.

Let’s explore this further.

Think about the simple things in your life – a roof over your head, food on your table, a good book, a pleasant conversation with a friend. How often do you express gratitude for these things?

Those who are genuinely content have mastered the art of finding gratitude in the ordinary. They don’t reserve their thankfulness for grand occasions. Instead, they recognize and appreciate the simple joys that make up their everyday lives.

It’s crucial to shift your perspective from always seeking extraordinary moments to be grateful for and start acknowledging the ordinary ones. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t aspire for more or celebrate big achievements. It just means that you don’t overlook the everyday blessings while chasing after bigger ones.

5) They aren’t afraid of failure

This was a lesson I learned the hard way.

Growing up, I was always driven by the fear of failure. I thought that making a mistake would be the end of the world, and this fear often held me back from trying new things or taking risks.

However, over time, I realized that my fear of failure was causing me to miss out on potential opportunities and experiences. It was holding me back from growth and learning.

I remember a specific instance when I had to give an important presentation at work. The fear of messing up was so intense that I almost backed out. But I pushed through my fear, gave the presentation, and yes, made a few mistakes. But instead of the world ending like I’d feared, something different happened – I learned. I learned where my weaknesses lay and how I could improve.

Now, I see failure not as something to be feared but as an opportunity for growth. It’s a chance to learn, to improve, and ultimately, to progress. Failure is not the opposite of success; it’s part of the journey to success.

6) They’re comfortable with discomfort

Genuinely content individuals understand a fundamental truth about life: Discomfort is inevitable.

Psychologists often refer to the concept of “hedonic adaptation.” This is the idea that individuals return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events in their lives. Essentially, we adapt to our circumstances, whether they’re good or bad.

Here’s the crucial insight:

This means that whether we win the lottery or suffer a major accident, over time, we adjust and our level of contentment stabilizes. If we’re constantly seeking comfort and avoiding discomfort, we’re fighting a losing battle. Discomfort will always catch up with us because it’s a natural part of life.

Content individuals understand this and don’t shy away from discomfort. Instead, they lean into it. They see it as an opportunity for growth, knowing that stepping out of their comfort zone is often where the magic happens.

7) They seek fulfillment, not happiness

At first glance, this might seem like a play on words. Isn’t fulfillment just another word for happiness? But the truth is, they represent two distinct states of being.

Happiness is often associated with a temporary state of pleasure or joy. It’s momentary, fleeting. Fulfillment, on the other hand, is a deeper and more lasting sense of satisfaction. It comes from living in alignment with our values and pursuing meaningful goals.

Content individuals understand this distinction. They don’t chase after fleeting moments of happiness. Instead, they strive for a life of fulfillment.

This implies embracing all aspects of life—the joyous and the challenging, the pleasant and the painful. It means pursuing goals that align with their values, even when the path is hard or uncertain. It involves finding meaning in the journey itself, not just the destination.

In a society that often equates happiness with pleasure and material success, this can be a counterintuitive approach. But those who are genuinely content know that true satisfaction comes from living a life of purpose and authenticity.

They seek fulfillment, knowing that it’s in this state that they’ll find not just momentary happiness but lasting contentment.

In conclusion: It’s a personal journey

Despite the common threads that may bind genuinely content people, it’s essential to remember that contentment is a deeply personal and individual journey. What brings contentment to one person may not necessarily work for another.

Perhaps the most intriguing research on happiness and contentment comes from the field of positive psychology. According to Martin Seligman, a prominent figure in this field, authentic happiness comes from identifying and cultivating your strengths and using them in service of something larger than yourself.

This brings us back to the seven traits we’ve discussed. Each trait is a tool, a potential pathway to contentment. But they are not prescriptive. They are not “one size fits all”. They serve as a guide, an invitation for you to explore what contentment means for you.

The beauty of this journey is that it’s as diverse and unique as we are. Our paths to contentment will look different, sound different, feel different. And that’s okay. In fact, that’s more than okay—it’s perfect.

After all, the journey to contentment isn’t about fitting into a mold or meeting societal expectations. It’s about discovering who we are at our core and aligning our lives with that truth. It’s about embracing all facets of our experience—the joys and sorrows, the triumphs and failures—and finding meaning within them.

Feeling Adrift? Pinpointing Your Values Guides You Home

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Stop drifting and download the Free PDF to anchor yourself to purpose. Let your values direct you home.


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