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Being Content

When the Bible describes "rich" people, it is talking about us. If that doesn't make sense to you, consider this: the median income in the world is $1,225 a year! 1 Even though Americans find themselves rated as some of the wealthiest people on earth, why are so many unhappy with what they already have and look toward their next purchase?

There is a problem with our culture. We have a whole industry (advertising), that seems to have a singular purpose: fueling discontent. After all, if you are satisfied with what you already have, you will not need to go shopping. In fact, if you see an advertisement in a magazine or on TV, you may see something you didn't even know you needed!

Millions of people are not really wealthy, but are living an affluent lifestyle. They are, in fact, pretending. The thing that allows people to pretend is debt. Debt takes a heavy toll because it ultimately results in stress-especially if the payments are hard to make. At this point, if this is you, you are living beyond your means. The cycle does not end here, however, because you will see another ad for something else which encourages you to go deeper into debt (and increases your anxiety).

Conquering Discontentment

One of the best ways to beat discontentment is to develop an eternal perspective. Ultimately, all wealth will be lost-either it will leave you during your life, or you will leave it when you die. View lifestyle decisions through the filter of being a kingdom builder for God. Don't compare yourself to other people. Live a simple lifestyle. Proverbs 15:16 says "Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure and turmoil with it."

The axiom, "money will not make you happy", is so true. Consider the life of Howard Hughes. This man was so wealthy that he was once the richest man in the world. The last chapter in his life seems strange-he escaped to the Bahamas in self-exile, shunning all public contact. His mind and physical appearance deteriorated as he hid himself from reality. It seems that wealth, power, and fame had betrayed him. By all measures, he did not appear to die a "happy" man.

In the end, finding contentment is a matter of perspective. Our perspective should be like the apostle Paul's and include Christ: ".for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:11-13)

1 World Bank economist Branko Milanovic in his book The Haves and Have-Nots, published by Basic Books, 2011

The views are those of Bruce Olmstead and not those of Summit Brokerage Services. Investments in securities do not offer a fix rate of return. Principal, yield and/or share price will fluctuate with changes in market conditions and, when sold or redeemed, you may receive more or less than originally invested.  No system or financial planning strategy can guarantee future results