Contentment vs. Success?

When is Enough, Enough?

In this hectic world, a lot of us find some measure of our identity by how busy we are, while simultaneously seeking peace and contentment. I’ve noticed recently that a lot of people respond to the question, “How are you?” with some version of, “Busy, but good.” It’s as if being busy has become the accepted, and even sought after, norm. And yet, simultaneously, we have seen a stupendous explosion in movements such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga and other calming exercises. It’s like we’re all suffering from some kind of cognitive dissonance.

You may have noticed that desire is insatiable. Satisfying your desire by acquiring or doing something doesn’t appease your desire for very long. Rather, it seems to feed your longing and you want more.

You don’t have to look very far in our world to see the mounting evidence of destruction that this insatiable thirst for more has led to. Perhaps you need look no further than your garage, basement or closet to see the excess of accumulation for accumulation’s sake: Or rather, accumulation as a surrogate for finding true happiness and satisfaction.

And yet, without a strong resolve, it’s seems so ridiculously easy to get sucked in by the next thing or experience we just have to have, and before you know it, you’ve exchanged more of your hard-earned money or limited time for extra stuff that doesn’t bring lasting happiness.

Most of us operate under the illusion that, “Once we have X, we’ll be content.” But by the time we get X, we need to have Y. Then our life will be complete!

This endless cycle of chasing contentment seems to have no end…

Sell It All and Become a Monastic?

Maybe the solution is to stop striving? In addition to the modern fixation on mindfulness, there is a small, but growing movement towards minimalism – tiny houses, tidying up with Marie Kondo, and countless more examples of people looking for contentment and solutions by reducing how much they have rather than acquiring more.

Cynically, this move could be seen as a giving up, or a ruse by some people to try and feel successful because they couldn’t make it in the real world. By reducing one’s needs and desires it becomes easier to fulfill them.

But perhaps there’s more to it than that? Maybe it’s not a resignation, but rather a recognition that the endless pursuit for more, more, more is definitely not the path to enduring joy and happiness.

Of course, giving up on life and retreating to a condition of just existing until death comes doesn’t seem like a great solution either.

Finding a Balance Between Accepting and Striving

The “spiritual experts” like Eckhart Tolle are right in saying that learning to accept the present moment as it presents itself to you is the key to finding some sense of contentment. However, sitting idly by and “accepting” injustice or a lack of resources is not the secret to a happy and fulfilled life.

It’s also true that raging against the conditions of the present moment that aren’t to your satisfaction, or acquiring more things or people or experiences will not result in ongoing contentment.

Finding and maintaining the correct tension between acceptance and striving is a challenge, but it is the only way to a complete life.

Are You Settling for Suboptimal

While all of the above applies to your life in general, it also applies to each specific area within your life. For example, in the area of your investments, are you contentedly sitting back while your portfolio suffers through unnecessary volatility because your financial advisor told you this is just the way it is? Or perhaps you’re patiently waiting for your financial advisor to get in touch to discuss your portfolio, like they promised they would when you first became their client? In my mind, unnecessary risk and lack of contact are both forms of abuse. And it is not okay to sit idly by waiting for the situation to correct itself.

It may be time to reach for more and better. Why not at least explore your options by scheduling an introductory call with us? Or, start by reading our EBook, Institutional-Style Investing Illuminated.

Are You Settling for Suboptimal

Are you instead doing too much in your pursuit of the optimal investment returns? Are you trying to do it on your own, based on hunches or avid consumption of business news and tips from the pundits? Or perhaps your financial advisor encourages a high level of trading activity to ostensibly catch the upswings and avoid the downswings? Doing too much can be as detrimental to your financial health as doing too little.

It may be time to step back and reconsider. Why not at least explore your options by scheduling an introductory call with us? Or, start by reading our EBook, Institutional-Style Investing Illuminated

DISCLAIMER: Northern Lights Capital is a tradename of Aligned Capital Partners Inc. (ACPI).  Arpad Komjathy is an agent of ACPI and he is registered to advise clients resident in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia.

This article is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific personalized advice including, without limitation, investment, financial, legal, accounting or tax advice. Please consult the appropriate professional depending on your particular circumstances. This article does not constitute an offer or solicitation in any jurisdiction in which such offer or solicitation is not authorized or to any person to whom it is unlawful to make such offer or solicitation.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of ACPI. The information contained in this article is subject to change without notice. The information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable. The owner and publisher of this article is not liable for any inaccuracies in the information provided.

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