What is contentment? What does it look like? How do you know you’ve found it?
Well, one thing it is not is “settling.” This is a concept I’m still working out. I’m reading a book called “The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs” – the co-founder of Apple computers. I think that sometimes settling for something can feel or look like contentment. But it isn’t really. It can begin as contentment. But if what starts out as contentment doesn’t move you to carry out your mission in life, then it ceases to be contentment and degrades into settling. Here’s a quote from the book:
“You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know it when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.” (Steve Jobs 2005 Commencement Speech at Stanford University, quoted in The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs, by Carmine Gallo, page 21).
It would be easy to dismiss because Steve Jobs is a multi-billionaire. The perception is that he must be greedy – the opposite of contentment. But if you do a little digging into who Steve Jobs is, you will find that he really does epitomize contentment instead of greed. He found something he loved and did that with his life – not to make gobs and gobs of money but because he simply loved to do it.
And Steve Jobs didn’t stop with the Apple ][ computer, but moved on to the Macintosh. He didn’t stop at the Macintosh but continued until the iPod was introduced. He didn’t stop there but continued with the iPhone and then the iPad. He doesn’t need the money – which is easy to say now that he’s got billions. But Steve Jobs was content with having nothing, as long as he was able to do what he loved.
Like I said, I’m still working through this idea but so far it seems to be a good illustration on contentment versus greed.