The Greek philosopher Plutarch warned, “The owner of five couches goes looking for ten, the owner of ten tables buys up many again, and though he has lands and money in plenty is not satisfied but bent on more, losing sleep and never sated with any amount.”
Even though spoken centuries ago, Plutarch’s assessment of human nature is spot on. He echoes Solomon’s wise words, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10 ESV) We can naturally become discontent with our money and possessions and strive for more and more. A recognition of this tendency is the first step to overcome the “more” trap. And contentment with what we have is something that can be learned.
The Power of Gratitude and Giving
Two practical steps away from a quest for more and more are gratitude and giving. While Thanksgiving is a day purposefully set aside for us to stop and count our blessings, daily committing to giving thanks helps foster contentment. Gratitude shifts our focus from what we don’t have to the many blessings we do have. It takes inventory of what we have been entrusted with and acknowledges the Giver of those gifts.
Giving breaks the power that money can have over us. It is a practical outworking of our gratitude and helps us see the needs in others. Giving is not only part of good stewardship but actually triggers the secretion of our neurochemicals – dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin – that causes a boost in mood and brings satisfaction.
Our motivation for life cannot dependent on improving the size of our bank accounts, investment portfolio, and material possessions for they will never satisfy. Giving and gratitude have the power to break the “love” of money, selfishness, greed, and fear, which lie at the heart of many of our social and relational problems. Let’s develop an attitude of contentment, making life better for ourselves and those around us.