July 2007 Character Quality -- Contentment
the following editorial article was written by Gloria Cooper for publication in The Paris News --
What would it take for you to be content?  A new car?  A new house?  What about a bonanza in
the stock market?  All these things would be nice, but they are a little bit more than what we
need to live.  A long time ago, a wise teacher once said, “Having, food and clothing, with these
let us be content.”  In America, we have become an extremely prosperous nation.  Unfortunately,
with that prosperity, we do not realize how good we have it.  We seem to believe that the newest
make or model is a necessity of life; without it, our lives will not be complete.  
Contentment is realizing that true happiness does not depend on material conditions.  It is being
grateful for what we have, managing it with care, rather than continually feeding our appetites
like a bottomless pit.  As hard as we might try, we will never find true happiness in material

How can we distinguish between needs and wants?  First, we should check our desires.  Often
times, they can blind us to what our ultimate good is.  We need to consider if an investment will
benefit us in the future – not only give us what we want for our present satisfaction.  Secondly,
we should be thankful for what we have – resisting the temptation to long for what we do not
have.  Envy and jealousy keep us from pure joy.  It also prevents us from thinking of creative
ways we can better ourselves with the ‘little’ that we have.  Thirdly, we need to value every
relationship.  Although certain relationships can have influence on our status, we should never
try to ‘use’ someone else to enhance our position.  Investing good character in another’s life is
the greatest asset of all, because this will affect countless others whom we may never know.  
Finally, we should make our investments within our budget.  Never should we buy to impress
others nor should we make spur of the moment decisions on ‘pricey’ purchases.  Invest time and
money in the things that matter.  Either our possessions will serve us or we will serve them.  We
should use them for the good of others – not only ourselves – in order for them to achieve the
greatest efficiency.  

To have a spirit of contentment is to have a sense of peace.  When we have peace, we can
keep our focus clear in order to make the correct choices.  When we are at peace, we are also
satisfied. Once we are content, we are also able to adapt to the many changes that come into
our lives.  William Shakespeare shares this bit of wisdom:  “My crown is in my heart, not on my
head; not decked with diamonds and Indian stones, not to be seen; my crown is called content,
a crown it is that seldom kings enjoy.”

Contentment is not passivity.  While we strive to be content in every situation of our lives, we
should also be willing to take action when a situation calls us to task.  We must always strive for
perfection and excellence in what we do.  G. K. Testerton gives us the correct view on
contentment with this statement, “True contentment is a thing as active as agriculture.  It is the
power of getting out of any situation all that there is in it.  It is arduous and it is rare.”        
Portions of this article have been adapted from Character First! material.  For more information about the
Character First! program and resources contact:  Character Training Institute, 520 W. Main Street, Oklahoma
City, OK  73102,  (405) 815-0001. Visit the Character Council of Red River Valley at
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