The Myth of Self-Content
What are you chasing? A career, money, passion, the calming feeling of being content?
The more I search for self-contentment, the more I doubt it’s real.
It started with a habit of asking successful people I meet if they can look at their accomplishments in life and feel like they’ve made it to where they wanted to be.
The answer is always resoundingly no.
Successful small business owners all the way to entrepreneurs who’ve sold their stake and are sitting on multiple millions in the bank.
All successful with a capital ‘S’ by most’s standards, and there is still something itching at their brain telling them it isn’t enough.
Maybe it’s a key component to successful people. The lack of satisfaction keeps them going.
Maybe business and money have nothing to do with it. Material success doesn’t equal self-content, and I’ve been talking to the wrong people.
Maybe we’re built this way.
Our brains are hardwired to react to stress. It helped in prehistoric times when we had to worry about animal attacks or starving to death, but now in modern times, we’re stuck in a loop. For those fortunate enough to live in safety where life-threatening stressful situations don’t exist, we create our own.
Climbing one rung higher on the ladder of life only to stress that we haven’t reached the one above it.
So what’s the secret? How do we reach the unattainable goal of self-satisfaction?
Business gurus often cite the cathedral builders. I’m going to butcher this parable, but the gist is three bricklayers doing the same job with various qualities of work. When asked what they’re doing, the first one with sloppy work says, “laying brick’,” the second one slightly more caring says “building a wall,” the third most skilled and precise replies proudly, “Building a house of God.”
The difference is perspective and purpose. Believing you’re working on something bigger and more important than yourself might be the key to contentment.
Helping others is another go-to on the path to being self-satisfied, but as Simon Sinek always says, there is a whole genre of books dedicated to “Self-Help” but very little for “Helping Others.” Why aren’t more of us choosing that path, writing those books?
I don’t have the answers, and it’s stressing me out. I want it all.
Looks like this trip’s going to be a long one. Let’s all agree self-content is not a destination, rather fleeting moments you choose to cherish along the way or stress out about the next milestone ahead. Your choice.
Ever write a blog post knowing it’s summed up better by some corny clip art quote? Yeah, me too. ⬇️
So it goes. I don’t plan on stopping. You shouldn’t either.