Contentment Is a State of Being

Marie says her husband has a great job, and Marie works as a substitute teacher. Her husband would like her to take a more full-time position to build more wealth. Dave has a philosophical answer for Marie.

QUESTION: Marie in Peoria says her husband has a great job, and Marie works as a substitute teacher. Her husband would like her to take a more full-time position to build more wealth. Dave has a philosophical answer for Marie.

ANSWER: First and foremost, the two of you have to be taking care of your own household. So your only reason for taking a “big girl job” or “big office job” would be to make more money to pile up more money. The way you’re asking the question sounds like you don’t want to trade your quality of life for that.

I think wealth is for quality of life, and quality of life includes giving. It includes a future. It includes those things, but if you have to surrender the joy of your life to do that—to build extra wealth or build at a different pace—I wouldn’t do that. I think your husband’s wrong.

I need to juxtapose that with the thing that seems inconsistent to a guy who worked 17 hours yesterday to say that. That’s me. I was at Fox and Friends at 6:30 in the morning, and I got in bed at 1 a.m. after working the entire day yesterday, so it doesn’t sound like somebody that’s very content that does that, but contentment is not on the same spectrum with ambition or service. If you found something you were on fire to do—and I’m on fire to do what we’re doing—I get up every morning just glad I’m alive, and I build wealth in the process of doing that, but I’m not doing it just to pile up money. I’m doing it because I get great joy out of serving. If you found a way where you worked really, really hard, served, and built wealth, that’s not inconsistent.

Content doesn’t mean number of hours in the week worked. Content means your state of being. It’s a manner of the journey. It’s not opposite of ambition.

I don’t think for you to just pay off the debt in seven years rather than eight years you ought to go take a job you hate—pay off your house in seven years rather than eight years. I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t recommend you do it.

It’s a good thing to read about and think about, but this idea that contentment is on the same spectrum with ambition—no. Lazy is on the same spectrum with ambition on one end or on the other, and that’s different than content. I want to do with my life something that’s enjoyable and that I’m called to do and I don’t have to work 40 hours a week in a glass box somewhere to do that. If you’re not paying your bills and your kids aren’t being fed, then you go do what you’ve got to do. Shut up. But in your case, you’re in a great place to do that, and I think he’s wrong.