Small decisions help one negotitate life. The big ones are about moments of change when life suddenly alters and takes a new direction. If you have thought in advance about what matters the most, then you will be able to recognize happiness when it stares you in the face. Otherwise, not. This is the circumstance for most people.
Let m tell you how I learned the difference between happiness and contentment. If you are typical then the distinction does not sound like much. Indeed people use both terms to indicate a general state of success and felicity.
But words have the power to change us, and there is a word of difference between the two.
“Contentment” is the word that changed me. When I speak of moments of change, I mean those knife-edge situations in which one crosses over from the familiar to a new state of being, moments from which there can be no turning back.
Some moments of change are physical-one’s first menstration or first orgasm are classic examples, and profound examples they are-but the majority of thresholds are psychological, moments of alteration when perspective suddenly shifts. A new point of view sweeps away the familiar way of looking at things.