"He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have." - Socrates
I recently came across the above quote in a book. While it was not the first time I have seen it, I’ve been thinking about the topic of contentment recently, so it stuck out.
Think back to a time in your life when you really wanted something, whether a pay raise, bigger house, nicer car, or target balance in your bank account or investment portfolio. If you ultimately achieved your target, did it permanently satisfy you in the way you expected? Or was the satisfaction temporary, soon replaced by a new or bigger desire?
We will all attain varying level of career success, wealth accumulation, notoriety or recognition, material possessions and life experiences, and all of them will fluctuate over the course of our lifetimes.
But contentment can be found in our current circumstances, and even in any circumstance. If we find ourselves anxious, envious, greedy, unhappy, ungrateful, or dissatisfied in our situation, what we may need is not “more” or “nicer” or “bigger” anything--as that may only magnify our current state. Our best course of action may simply be deciding to be content with what we already have.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”
― Lao Tzu
“I am content; that is a blessing greater than riches; and he to whom that is given need ask no more.”
“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”
“I have learned to seek my happiness by limiting my desires, rather than in attempting to satisfy them.”
― John Stuart Mill