A Stoic Is Divinely Content

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has a habit of writing a thoughtful letter each year to his shareholders. In his most recent one, there was a line that caught the attention of the media pundits. “One thing I love about customers is that they are divinely discontent. Their expectations are never static—they go up.” As an artist, creator or entrepreneur, you should welcome this. Your audience, your customers, want you to get better, and this can push you to create and produce better work.

But it is also a recipe for a miserable life. It’s like the famous comedic bit of how we are frustrated that the wifi isn’t working while we are flying at 550 mph. Same-day Amazon Prime delivery, on-demand film and television at your fingertips, carrying a mini-computer in your pocket? These things that would have been considered impossible for any past generation—and still are for most of the world—are now taken for granted, and have become a source of frustration when even the slightest thing goes different than expected.

What the Stoic does is not increase their expectations and demands commensurate with their success or status. Because if you do, you will always feel poor, as Seneca has said, and you will always be unhappy. True poverty, he said, is not having too little, it is the need for more, more, more.

True wealth then, is being divinely content with what you have.

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