“Eat merely to relieve your hunger, drink merely to relieve your thirst, dress merely to keep out the cold, house yourself merely as a protection against personal discomfort.” – Seneca
While this is difficult maybe even impossible to live by, it is a way to understand where our baseline of contentment should be. The baseline of contentment is a good base line to have an understanding of. By knowing what we actually need we can accomplish several things that help us take steps towards becoming the best versions of ourselves.
The first thing we accomplish is that we allow ourselves to recognize the things that we take for granted that are actually luxuries. When we eat food that we enjoy rather than simply eating to satisfy our hunger, that is a luxury. When we drink for pleasure, or even when we add flavor to our water, that is a luxury. When we dress in clothes that make us look good in addition to helping keep us warm or cool, that is a luxury. When we start to recognize all the luxuries in our lives we allow ourselves the opportunity to be grateful for all that we have.
Recognizing our baseline for contentment also allows us to identify excesses and simplify our lives. While having luxuries is pleasant and we all prefer having them to not having them, it is outside of our control whether or not we get to keep them or maintain the same level of luxury forever. The part of the equation that is within our control is how dependent we are on those luxuries. By reducing our dependence on the excesses we already have in our lives, we free ourselves to be more content with less. This leaves us needing less to reach our current level of contentment.
By lowering the bar for our contentment we allow ourselves to be content easier.
virtus fortis vocat