Is Contentment A Good Thing?

In my Christian upbringing, contentment was a big virtue. You were supposed to be satisfied with whatever you had in physical possessions and career success and the like. You weren’t supposed to strive to be a big shot.

I grew up a Seventh-Day Adventist and that lifestyle tends to create contented people who don’t accomplish much in the world. If every Adventist in the world disappeared tomorrow, the world would hardly notice. Things would go on. We would not be missing any top scientists or economists or painters or novelists or industrialists or politicians or generals. We would be without 16 million people whose primary focus is on the next world.

If you spend time on a Seventh-Day Adventist campus or step into an Adventist church, you’ll enter a spiritual retreat and the more deeply you accept Adventism, the less this world matters.

I never liked this very much. I’ve always been interested primarily in this world.

On his radio show today, Dennis Prager said: “I don’t believe contentment is a good thing. Acting happy is a good thing. A positive disposition is. Seeing the best in every situation is a good thing.

“I’m not content. I don’t believe that anybody who accomplishes anything is content. I’m not content with almost anything. I don’t know why you’d be spurred to any excellence in life if you were content.”

I converted to Judaism in 1993. I find Jews to be much less content than the Adventists I knew. Jews are strivers. They’re focused on this world and making changes here. Jews tend to be high-achievers. Jewish life is competitive. In the Adventism I knew, “competition” was a dirty word.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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