Contentment is the acknowledgement and satisfaction of reaching capacity. The level of capacity reached may be sought after, expected, desired, or simply predetermined as the level in which provides contentment.
Many religions have some form of eternal bliss or heaven as their apparent goal often contrasted with eternal torment or dissatisfaction. The source of all mentally created dissatisfaction appears to stem from the ability to compare and contrast experiences and find reality as one is living it to be less than ideal. Many religions believe this was caused by man eating of the forbidden Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Man's eyes were "opened" to know the distinction between good and evil (Genesis 3:5). The solution is to seek out ways to either make experienced reality conform to the ideal and/or to lower expectations to the level of the experienced. When one can live in the moment with expectations in harmony with experiences one has achieved the greatest mental contentment possible. Variants of this pursuit are found in many religions and manifest in forms of meditation and prayerful devotions.
The American philosopher, Robert Bruce Raup wrote a book Complacency:The Foundation of Human Behavior (1925) in which he claimed that the human need for complacency (i.e. inner tranquility) was the hidden spring of human behavior. Dr. Raup made this the basis of his pedagogical theory, which he later used in his severe criticisms of the American Education system of the 1930s.
In many ways, contentment, which can be defined as the state of being satisfied, can be closely associated with the concept of happiness. In Positive Psychology social scientists study what might contribute to living a good life, or what would lead to people having increased positive mood and overall satisfaction with their life. Happiness, in Positive Psychology, is defined in a twofold manner, which in totality is referred to as Subjective Well-Being. How much positive emotion (Positive Affect) as opposed to negative emotion (Negative Affect) does a person have, and how does one view one's life overall (global satisfaction) are the questions asked in Positive Psychology to determine Happiness. Maybe Contentment could be more associated or closely related to a person's level of satisfaction with his/her life (global satisfaction), but nevertheless the idea of Contentment is certainly intertwined in the concept of what makes people happy. Positive Psychology finds it very important to study what contributes to people being happy and to people flourishing, and finds it just as important to focus on the constructive ways in which people function and adapt, as opposed to the general field of psychology which focuses more on what goes wrong or is pathological with human beings.
Dissecting the word contentment, focus upon the fragment "content", it illustrates the nature of contentment, for when one feels empty, one hungers. When one has content one is content. It is good either way, to be hungry and to seek, to strive to know, and it is equally beneficial to have content and to be content. As you apply yourself you will continually oscillate through these two phases: hunger, the desire to receive; and contentment, having been filled and satiated.- Elyon