Practical Action-Oriented Contentment With Leo Babauta
"If you start in this place of fixing what's wrong with you, you keep looking for what else is wrong with you, what else you need to improve. If you make great changes and lose weight, you feel good for a while, but then you might feel like you don't have enough muscles, or six pack abs, or you think your calves don't look good. Or if it's not about your body, you'll find something else.
So it's this never-ending cycle for your entire life. You never reach it. If you start with a place of wanting to improve yourself and feeling stuck, even if you're constantly successful and improving, you're always looking for happiness from external sources. You don't find the happiness from within, so you look to other things.
Say productivity is your thing -- you make great changes, you're productive, but then for whatever reason, the thing you've been successful at stops. It could be a job loss, it could be you got ill, maybe you had to travel, or there's some kind of disruption in your routine. It could be other people getting sick, or a life crisis. When the external thing that makes you happy and fulfilled is no longer there, you feel like crap, and that'll always be true if you look for happiness is externally."
But I think that's a misunderstanding of what contentment is. You can be content and lay around, but you can also be content and want to help others. You can be content and also compassionate to others, and want to help them. You can be happy with who you are, but at the same time want to help other people and ease their suffering. And that way, you can offer yourself to the world and do great works in the world, but not necessarily need that to be happy."
Leo has reached a measure of personal contentment and internally-driven happiness, but he's also quite moved to be a great father, to lead a life full of rich experiences, to help people, to build his family, and to a life full of principle and full of interesting people, experiences, and achievements. Whereas a truly content person doesn't need achievement to be happy, that doesn't mean lying around on the beach all day -- it's absolutely possible to work towards improving yourself and the world around you each and every day.