The Simple Art of Contentment

“He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.” — Socrates

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It’s 2018 and as I get older, I’m starting to veer towards the conclusion that people are becoming desensitized to gratitude. As a whole, we’re becoming less thankful for the things we have and we’re always striving to have more. I don’t see goals and dreams as a bad thing but if we can’t be content with the beautiful things currently in our lives, how can we be content with lovely things, that are yet to come?

Last year, my brother, a London based, commercial finance consultant, was diagnosed with an extremely rare, congenital heart defect called Cor Tritriatum. The congenital heart condition accounts for an incredibly small percentage of the population in the United States and equates to 0.1–0.4%, of infants with congenital heart diseases.

To summarize it briefly, the human heart is divided into four chambers and two of those, are the atria. The two atria are separated from one another by a fibro-muscular wall of tissue, called the atrial septum. The ventricles are the other two chambers of the heart and are also divided by a septum. With Cor Tritriatum, there’s an additional small chamber, most commonly, just above the left atrium but in rare cases, can occur on the right. The veins that return blood from the lungs drain into this additional chamber and the passage of blood that flows from the lungs to the heart is reduced by the additional chamber.

The heart defect is present at birth and the cause is still unknown. It usually shows signs during infancy, however, in my brother’s case, it didn’t show signs until adulthood. Despite having poor blood flow, it also led to my brother having numerous other issues with his heart, such as a leaky valve (it’s as bad as it sounds).

After my brother was told by consultants at a specialist heart hospital, that he would have to undergo open-heart surgery, his perspective had shifted on his priorities. He has always been a man that shows gratitude for the things and people he has in his life but his work demanded a lot of his time.

As a father of 3, he tried to spend as much time as possible with his family and wants to provide a comfortable life for them. A life-altering heart condition gave him perspective on what his priorities are. To be content with what he has and the loved ones that he has and to be rich in experiences because he could draw his last breath, at any moment.

Today’s society has us bombarded by celebrities in the media. We’re so caught up in our own voyeurism, that we strive to adopt an affluent lifestyle, like the celebrities and models that we follow. What is it about our own lives that are so bad, is it a lack of money? Experiences? Relationships? Vacations? We look to social media as our form of escapism and hope that we can one day, live a comfortable lifestyle with a multi-million dollar mansion.

The world population currently stands at around 7.6 billion people. Men, women, and children from all over the world, living very different lives from one another. I wonder what all of their dreams and aspirations are? Do you think they feel like they have enough?

Goals are important, dreams are important and so are objectives. The most successful people on the planet got to where they are with goals and visions. Were their first million dollars enough? Did they then have to make 5 million and then 10? Did they feel complete, content and happy after making millions of dollars?

My point? When is enough, enough? We spend our entire lives saving for the future and chasing something that we feel we’re deserving of. How many times have we actually been content for the things and people that are currently in our lives?

The simple art of contentment is to value what is around you, in your current circumstances. It’s not an easy feat, when you feel like your life is pulling you in different directions but you’ll get to where you’re destined to go and the hardships you face will help you grow.

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