Contentment is wealth
When asked who is rich, Epictetus said, “He who is content.”
The rich man seems to have everything, but is he happy? Is he content? You’ll often see financially rich people wallowing in discontent, while some who seemingly have modest means are happier.
“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”
Nothing you gain will bring you happiness unless you have learned the art of contentment.
“Any man who does not think that what he has is more than ample, is an unhappy man, even if he is the master of the whole world.”
According to Epictetus, when you have learned the art of contentment — the art of being happy with what you have while in pursuit of what you want — you will be able to have true happiness in any circumstance.
Contentment is wealth.
All of this is easier said than done, but there is another principle that may help us achieve the kind of contentment of which Epictetus spoke. The principle is gratitude.
Gratitude can lead to contentment
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, one of the apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, spoke of gratitude in a talk titled “Grateful in Any Circumstances.” In it, Elder Uchtdorf expounds on the principle of gratitude during the good and bad times. He says:
Everyone’s situation is different, and the details of each life are unique. Nevertheless, I have learned that there is something that would take away the bitterness that may come into our lives. There is one thing we can do to make life sweeter, more joyful, even glorious.
We can be grateful!
— Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Perhaps a better approach to developing a spirit of gratitude is not to focus on what we are grateful for but on why we are grateful. It is difficult to develop a spirit of gratitude if our thankfulness is only proportional to the number of blessings we can count. And while it is good to count our blessings, it is not wise to only be grateful in times of abundance but also in times of trial.
Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances — whatever they may be.
— Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Elder Uchtdorf tells the story of a waiter who asked a customer whether he had enjoyed the meal. The guest said the food was fine, but it would have been better if they had served more bread. The next day, when he returned, the waiter doubled the amount of bread, giving him four slices instead of two, but still, the man was not happy. The next day, the waiter doubled the bread again — still without success.
On day four, the waiter was determined to make the customer happy. So, he took a nine-foot-long (3-meter) loaf of bread, cut it in half, and with a smile, served that to the man, then waited for the reaction.
After the meal, the man looked up and said, “Good as always. But I see you’re back to giving only two slices of bread.” (Grateful in Any Circumstances Dieter F. Uchtdorf)
By being grateful in our circumstances, we are showing faith in God. We put our trust in Him and hope for things we may not see but are true. By doing so, we follow the example of our beloved Savior, who said: “Not my will, but thine be done.”
Gratitude is the path to being content.
It is within my power to derive benefit from every experience.