“Contentment makes poor men rich, discontent makes rich men poor.”
— Benjamin Franklin

Contentment is a vital ethical value if we are to be happy. The kind of contentment I’m referring to is when there is the absence of greed. With this kind of contentment, we know “what is enough” and knowing “when to be contented.” It means being able to find happiness and satisfaction without needing or wanting more.

Contentment is something like the virtue of moderation. It implies a certain thrift of ambition, or having limited desires. By living frugally and setting reasonable limits, we free ourselves from the sense of insecurity and insufficiency brought on by incessant craving.

Happiness doesn’t come from wealth but from setting limits on our desires and living within those limits with satisfaction. Our materialistic society puts us under constant pressure to want more and to spend more long after our basic needs are met. Advertising is designed to stimulate the imagination and to generate a perception that it is material goods (more is better) that make us happy, and that we are somehow missing out on life unless we have the latest accessory, gadget, or fashion item.

The materialism of today’s society makes the practice of moderation and contentment a daily necessity if we are to resist falling victim to a sense of personal dissatisfaction brought on by unrealistic craving.

Wealth alone does not bring happiness, and the sooner we learn to live simply and frugally, the better off we will be when it comes to our happiness.

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Published by W. M. Brown

I am a retired U.S. expat living in Ecuador. I was a business owner for 32 years before retiring in 2012.

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