I never admire another’s fortune so much that I became dissatisfied with my own. – Cicero
What does that mean?
This quote says that you can admire the fortune (the possessions) of someone else. It is understood that humans do that. It’s OK to window shop, to admire or like the shiny things in someone else’s nest.
It goes on to state that you shouldn’t get so wrapped up with what they have that you forget the value of what you have. You have what you have, and you shouldn’t obsess with what others have.
To me, this quote says that keeping up with the Joneses has been shunned by wise men for many centuries. Don’t be envious, greedy, jealous or bitter. It only leads to discontent, disappointment, or worse.
Why is being content important?
Being content is defined at thefreedictionary.com as “Desiring no more than what one has; satisfied.” The opposite, discontent, is not being satisfied, and wanting more. Contentment (the act of being content) has a feeling of happiness and satisfaction, while it’s opposite has a feeling of agitation and of grievance.
This happiness and satisfaction is part of what make up the best times of our lives. It seems so obvious to me, I’m at a loss for how to describe why it is important. To me, it’s right up there with water, food and air. Having all I needed and most of what I wanted was probably one of the best feelings I have ever had. How about you, do you agree?
Where can I apply this in my life?
In the opening section, I mentioned keeping up with the Joneses and how it probably wasn’t a good strategy for being content. I would like to state clearly that I do not believe that life is a competition, and that those with the most toys don’t win any kind of prize.
As an example, a few years ago, I purchased a fairly large flat screen TV. I was content when I first got it. It was big, not the biggest, but it was way larger than what it replaced. Then the manufacturers came out with bigger and bigger units, and now 3D units, and I’m not as content.
To make matters worse, my brother has a TV that is easily twice the size of mine, and at times I am envious of it. I understand why he got it, and he could afford it, and has room for it. It was a good thing for him. However, the TV I have, despite it now being on the small side, is still more than good enough for anything I need it to do, and so I am still at least a little content. 8)
What things do others have, as you admire their fortunes, that leave you a little dissatisfied? Are you stuck in an average house? An average car? Average clothes? Average shoes? Average Tech-Toys? Average jewelry? Grab some paper and write down about a dozen things that you don’t have and why you want them.
Now run through the list and consider each entry. Does what you want really provide any extra value? Or is it just flashier? The question you are trying to answer is do you need it, or simply desire it? There are tons of fancy and sporty and expensive cars that I would love to own, but I am content with my old beater. It gets me where I need to go, and is fun to drive and work on.
Now look at each item on the list and the notes you have made. I would differentiate between an energetic lust for something (like a sports car or a designer dress) and a discontenting envy. As long as you are still content with what you have, I don’t see a problem with wanting to eventually get something nicer, do you?
In the end, you probably have all you need to be content. You might want more, but do you need it? I have a motorcycle that can do off-road, but I only use it on the street. When I got it, I bought more than I needed. You may be able to think of some use for the extra abilities of that shiny new item, but do you need it?
If you are still having some envy issues, you can always compare what you have to what the people in the rest of the world have. That can be a humbling experience. If you’ve ever done mission work, disaster relief work, or known someone who has, you probably know what I mean.
Even something small and local, such as a food bank, soup kitchen or homeless shelter can be an eye opener, showing you how some people live, right in your own back yard. I know it helped reset how I saw myself, compared to others. Suddenly, I was much more content, and grateful for what I had.
I would recommend against being discontented with what you have and obsessing over what others have. This will never bring happiness, nor will it ever bring contentment. It will only bring you envy, jealousy, discontent, and pain.
From: Twitter, @philo_quotes
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/marcustull165872.html
Photo by Ed Callow [ torquespeak ]