To be content is to accept the conditions of life, good or bad. You don’t have money, so you accustom yourself to eating tuna fish from a can. You don’t have a car, so you accustom yourself to taking the bus. You don’t have a job, so you accustom yourself to receiving food stamps.
To be content is to supplicate. You change the insult to a complement, the loss to a gain. You play the Pollyanna.
Conversely, to be happy is to struggle. You don”t have money, so you knock down every door until you get some. You don’t have a car, so you work your ass off to buy one. You don’t have a job, so you pound the pavement until you do.
To be happy is to battle. You refuse to accept mediocrity, to conform to defeat. You punch back against the punches. You break free of the chokehold.
In short, it’s better to be happy than content. Happiness is the pursuit of a passionate life: contentment the acceptance of a denigrated one.