Jay Shirley

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The Daily Practice

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Being Content

Published: 16 Nov 2011

I’ve climbed to the summit of a proper mountain once in my life. It was an enjoyable experience and I’d like to do it again. I sat at the top for a fraction of the time it took to get there. Then I had to descend. It didn’t make sense to sit on the top of my mountain peak any further.

What’s after the summit?

When we’re children, we think of 10 professions a day and want to be each one. We rule out the bad ones and keep the good ones. Life is simple back then.

When I was a kid I would write out on notecards various things of intrigue. Usually it was professions. I wrote a little summary about that job, what it entailed and as I was older what was required. The magic faded away.

I always wanted to build something. Software was easy and convenient for me. I didn’t need materials. I didn’t need a formal education or certifications. I’ve continued on this path since I made that decision and enjoyed it.

Envy for those off the path.

I’m not exactly where I want to be in life. Plenty of other people are. Some even at young ages. They’re doing what they want. I envy them. I haven’t made it there (hopefully just not yet). Even with envy, I doubt many of them are more content.

I must wonder what’s next for them? If someone’s ambition was to just escape a cubicle farm and do so, does their content and the freedom they created create happiness in themselves and others? Are they really happy? Do they want more?

Leaving a corporate job is not, on its own, disruptive. It can be very, very good for certain people (like myself). However, if someone like myself craves creating a disruptive product, and is still unable to, there is no happiness. An environment that fosters a disruptive product’s creation is required. Without that there is no happiness. It’s not unhappiness or discontent, just a lack of happiness. At best, it’s being content.

Is being content enough?

Being a cog in a machine is unpleasant. For a motivated individual it’s impossible to be content in that environment. Being outside of the corporate machine, however, brings positive feelings. The warm embrace of simply being content. It’s not happiness, though.

Much like I envy those who have stood on their own, created their own empires and built their own jobs, I also envy people who are happy just being content. I’m not. I want more.

Being content is more dangerous than misery; nobody is apathetic about relieving themselves of misery.