When writing, we don’t often think specifically about a character’s contentment. There’s a reason for that: we’re in the conflict business. That, conflict, not contentment, is the spine of our novels. But contentment isn’t the same thing as a lack of conflict. It is peace in the face of conflict. And so as novelists, we definitely should be thinking about contentment and our characters positions on it and where they are in relation to it.
A person can be in the middle of turmoil and at peace. At war against an enemy, and at peace. Going through tough times on the job, with the family, in health or welfare issues–on any front, really, and still be content.
Contentment comes from knowing you’re doing or have done your best in a given situation. It’s accepting what can’t be changed. It’s acknowledging the facts of the matter and being at peace with those facts.
Contentment isn’t an idealistic view of all being perfect and beautiful and everything working seamlessly and without fail, trial, challenge or trouble. It’s peace in light of those failures, trials, challenges and troubles.
What is your character’s contentment level? Why? These are important insights into the individuals and why they behave as they do. The greater insight into why they are as they are and conduct their priorities on value and judgment systems that might one-eighty out from our own.
These are incredibly rich resources for the writer.
What’s your character’s contentment level? What would increase or decrease it? Why would those specific things impact that level?
And, of course, the same can be asked of you, the person. All this holds true for our imaginary people, but it holds true for real ones, too.