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'Tis better to be lowly born, And range with humble livers in content, Than to be perk'd up in a glistering grief, And wear a golden sorrow. ~ William Shakespeare
A monk is satisfied with a robe to protect his body, with alms to satisfy his stomach, and having accepted sufficient, he goes on his way. Just as a bird with wings flies hither and thither, burdened by nothing but its wings, so he is satisfied. ~ Gautama Buddha

Contentment, or complacence, is the experience of satisfaction and being at ease in one's situation.

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  • Ten poor men sleep in peace on one straw heap, as Saadi sings,
    But the immensest empire is too narrow for two kings.


  • From labour health, from health contentment spring;
    Contentment opes the source of every joy.
  • And how is a monk contented? Here, a monk is satisfied with a robe to protect his body, with alms to satisfy his stomach, and having accepted sufficient, he goes on his way. Just as a bird with wings flies hither and thither, burdened by nothing but its wings, so he is satisfied. In this way, Sire, a monk is contented.
  • Health is the greatest gift, contentment is the greatest wealth, a trusted friend is the best relative, Nibbana is the greatest bliss.


  • I would do what I pleased, and doing what I pleased, I should have my will, and having my will, I should be contented; and when one is contented, there is no more to be desired; and when there is no more to be desired, there is an end of it.
  • Give what thou wilt, without thee we are poor;
    And with thee rich, take what thou wilt away.
  • Lo and behold! God made this
    starry wold,
    The maggot and the mold; lo and
    He taught the grass contentment
    blade by blade,
    The sanctity of sameness in a shade.


  • Where wealth and freedom reign, contentment fails,
    And honour sinks where commerce long prevails.
  • Their wants but few, their wishes all confin'd.
  • Happy the man, of mortals happiest he,
    Whose quiet mind from vain desires is free;
    Whom neither hopes deceive, nor fears torment,
    But lives at peace, within himself content;
    In thought, or act, accountable to none
    But to himself, and to the gods alone.
    • George Granville, 1st Baron Lansdowne, "Epistle to Mrs. Elizabeth Higgons" (1690), line 79, in The Genuine Works in Verse and Prose of the Right Honourable George Granville, Lord Lansdowne, Vol. I (London: J. and R. Tonson, 1736), p. 23.




  • A joyful heart makes a cheerful face; A sad heart makes a despondent mood. All the days of a poor person are wretched, but contentment is a feast without end.
    • Rabbi Meir Leibush (Malbim), Proverbs 15:13 and 15.


  • Contentment furnishes constant joy. Much covetousness, constant grief. To the contented even poverty is joy. To the discontented, even wealth is a vexation.
    • Ming-hsin pao-chien ("Precious Mirror for Enlightening the Heart") (compiled c. 1393 by Fan Li-pen), in Chinese Repository. Translation by Dr. Milne.
  • So well to know
    Her own, that what she wills to do or say
    Seems wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, best.
  • Who seeks more than he needs, hinders himself from enjoying what he has. Seek what you need and give up what you need not. For in giving up what you don’t need, you’ll learn what you really do need.
    • Mivhar Hapeninim 155,161, reported in Borowitz and Schwartz, The Jewish Moral Virtues, p. 164.


  • What is the greatest you could experience? It is the hour of the great despising. The hour in which even your happiness disgusts you and likewise your reason and your virtue.
The hour when you say: “What good is my happiness! It is poverty and filth and wretched contentment. But my happiness should justify existence itself!”
The hour when you say: “What good is my reason! Does it crave knowing as the lion craves its good? It is poverty and filth and wretched contentment.”
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Prologue, § 3, G. Parkes, trans. (Oxford: 2005), pp. 12-13


  • Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
  • Whate'er the passion, knowledge, fame, or pelf,
    Not one will change his neighbor with himself.


  • I earn that I eat, get that I wear, owe no man hate, envy no man's happiness; glad of other men's good, content with my harm.
  • He that commends me to mine own content
    Commends me to the thing I cannot get.
  • The shepherd's homely curds,
    His cold thin drink out of his leathern bottle,
    His wonted sleep under a fresh tree's shade,
    All which secure and sweetly he enjoys,
    Is far beyond a prince's delicates,
    His viands sparkling in a golden cup,
    His body couched in a curious bed,
    When care, mistrust, and treason wait on him.
  • My crown is in my heart, not on my head;
    Not deck'd with diamonds and Indian stones,
    Nor to be seen: my crown is called content;
    A crown it is that seldom kings enjoy.
  • Why, I can smile, and murder whiles I smile,
    And cry, "Content" to that which grieves my heart;
    And wet my cheeks with artificial tears,
    And frame my face to all occasions.
  • 'Tis better to be lowly born,
    And range with humble livers in content,
    Than to be perk'd up in a glistering grief,
    And wear a golden sorrow.
  • If it were now to die,
    'Twere now to be most happy; for I fear
    My soul hath her content so absolute
    That not another comfort like to this
    Succeeds in unknown fate.
  • *I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil -- this is the gift of God.
  • The noblest mind the best contentment has.
    • Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene (1589-96), Book I, Canto I, Stanza 35.


  • An elegant Sufficiency, Content,
    Retirement, rural Quiet, Friendship, Books,
    Ease and alternate Labor, useful Life,
    Progressive Virtue, and approving Heaven!


  • Who is rich? Those who are happy with their portion.
    • Ben Zoma, reported in Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 32a also found in Pirkei Avot 4:1.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 133-36.
  • Ah, sweet Content, where doth thine harbour hold?
  • Happy am I; from care I'm free!
    Why aren't they all contented like me?
    • Opera of La Bayadère.
  • In Paris a queer little man you may see,
    A little man all in gray;
    Rosy and round as an apple is he,
    Content with the present whate'er it may be,
    While from care and from cash he is equally free,
    And merry both night and day!
    "Ma foi! I laugh at the world." says he,
    "I laugh at the world, and the world laughs at me!"
    What a gay little man in gray.
  • There was a jolly miller once,
    Lived on the River Dee;
    He worked and sang, from morn to night;
    No lark so blithe as he.
    And this the burden of his song,
    Forever used to be,—
    "I care for nobody, not I,
    If no one cares for me."
  • Some things are of that nature as to make
    One's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache.
    • John Bunyan, The Author's Way of Sending Forth his Second Part of the Pilgrim, line 126.
  • Contented wi' little, and cantie wi' mair.
  • I'll be merry and free,
    I'll be sad for nae-body;
    If nae-body cares for me,
    I'll care for nae-body.
  • With more of thanks and less of thought,
    I strive to make my matters meet;
    To seek what ancient sages sought,
    Physic and food in sour and sweet,
    To take what passes in good part,
    And keep the hiccups from the heart.
  • In a cottage I live, and the cot of content,
    Where a few little rooms for ambition too low,
    Are furnish'd as plain as a patriarch's tent,
    With all for convenience, but nothing for show:
    Like Robinson Crusoe's, both peaceful and pleasant,
    By industry stor'd, like the hive of a bee;
    And the peer who looks down with contempt on a peasant.
    Can ne'er be look'd up to with envy by me.
    • John Collins, How to be Happy. Song in his Scripscrapologia.
  • We'll therefore relish with content,
    Whate'er kind Providence has sent,
    Nor aim beyond our pow'r;
    For, if our stock be very small,
    'Tis prudent to enjoy it all,
    Nor lose the present hour.
  • Enjoy the present hour, be thankful for the past,
    And neither fear nor wish th' approaches of the last.
  • What happiness the rural maid attends,
    In cheerful labour while each day she spends!
    She gratefully receives what Heav'n has sent,
    And, rich in poverty, enjoys content.
    • John Gay, Rural Sports (1713), Canto II, line 148.
  • Sweet are the thoughts that savour of content;
    The quiet mind is richer than a crown;
    Sweet are the nights in careless slumber spent;
    The poor estate scorns fortune's angry frown:
    Such sweet content, such minds, such sleep, such bliss,
    Beggars enjoy, when princes oft do miss.
  • Let's live with that small pittance which we have;
    Who covets more is evermore a slave.
  • Quanto quisque sibi plura negaverit,
    A dis plura feret. Nil cupientium
    Nudus castra peto.
    • The more a man denies himself, the more he shall receive from heaven. Naked, I seek the camp of those who covet nothing.
    • Horace, Carmina, III. 16. 21.
  • Multa petentibus
    Desunt multa; bene est cui deus obtulit
    Parca quod satis est manu.
    • Those who want much, are always much in need; happy the man to whom God gives with a sparing hand what is sufficient for his wants.
    • Horace, Carmina, III. 16. 42.
  • Quod satis est cui contigit, nihil amplius optet.
    • Let him who has enough ask for nothing more.
    • Horace, Epistles, I. 2. 46.
  • Sit mihi quod nunc est, etiam minus et mihi vivam
    Quod superest ævi—si quid superesse volunt di.
    • Let me possess what I now have, or even less, so that I may enjoy my remaining days, if Heaven grant any to remain.
    • Horace, Epistles, I. 18. 107.
  • Sit mihi mensa tripes et
    Coucha salis puri et toga quæ defendere frigus
    Quamvis crassa queat.
    • Let me have a three-legged table, a dish of salt, and a cloak which, altho' coarse, will keep off the cold.
    • Horace, Satires, I. 3. 13.
  • Yes! in the poor man's garden grow,
    Far more than herbs and flowers,
    Kind thoughts, contentment, peace of mind,
    And joy for weary hours.
  • It is good for us to be here.
    • Matthew, XVII. 4.
  • No eye to watch, and no tongue to wound us,
    All earth forgot, and all heaven around us!
  • Vive sine invidia, mollesque inglorius annos
    Exige; amicitias et tibi junge pares.
    • May you live unenvied, and pass many pleasant years unknown to fame; and also have congenial friends.
    • Ovid, Tristium, III. 4. 43.
  • The eagle nestles near the sun;
    The dove's low nest for me!—
    The eagle's on the crag; sweet one,
    The dove's in our green tree!
    For hearts that beat like thine and mine
    Heaven blesses humble earth;—
    The angels of our Heaven shall shine
    The angels of our Hearth!
  • Si animus est æquus tibi satis habes, qui bene vitam colas.
    • If you are content, you have enough to live comfortably.
    • Plautus, Aulularia, II. 2. 10.
  • Habeas ut nactus: nota mala res optima est.
    • Keep what you have got; the known evil is best.
    • Plautus, Trinummus, I. 2. 25.
  • Not on the outer world
    For inward joy depend;
    Enjoy the luxury of thought,
    Make thine own self friend;
    Not with the restless throng,
    In search of solace roam
    But with an independent zeal
    Be intimate at home.
  • Dear little head, that lies in calm content
    Within the gracious hollow that God made
    In every human shoulder, where He meant
    Some tired head for comfort should be laid.
  • Vivite felices, quibus est fortuna peracta
    Jam sua.
    • Be happy ye, whose fortunes are already completed.
    • Virgil, Æneid (29-19 BC), III. 493.
  • This is the charm, by sages often told,
    Converting all it touches into gold:
    Content can soothe, where'er by fortune placed,
    Can rear a garden in the desert waste.
  • There is a jewel which no Indian mines can buy,
    No chymic art can counterfeit;
    It makes men rich in greatest poverty,
    Makes water wine; turns wooden cups to gold;
    The homely whistle to sweet music's strain,
    Seldom it comes;—to few from Heaven sent,
    That much in little, all in naught, Content.

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)

Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
  • Come calm content serene and sweet,
    O gently guide my pilgrim feet
    To find thy hermit cell.
  • True contentment depends not upon what we have; a tub was large enough for Diogenes, but a world was too little for Alexander.
  • There are two sorts of content; one is connected with exertion, the other with habits of indolence. The first is a virtue; the other, a vice.
  • We cannot be young twice; we cannot turn upon our steps, and go back to gather the garlands we gathered ten years ago. And, therefore, with a gaze over on the cross upon the distant hills, and a remembrance always of the shadow land that lies beyond, let us endeavor to be contented with small things, and to make ourselves happy in the pleasantness of simple pleasures.
  • My God, give me neither poverty nor riches; but whatsoever it may be Thy will to give, give me with it a heart which knows humbly to acquiesce in what is Thy will.
  • Contentment is natural wealth; luxury, artificial poverty.

See also

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Adoration ~ Affection ~ Agony ~ Amusement ~ Anger ~ Anguish ~ Anxiety ~ Apathy ~ Awe ~ Boredom ~ Calmness ~ Cheerfulness ~ Compassion ~ Contempt ~ Contentment ~ Depression ~ Desire ~ Disappointment ~ Discontent ~ Disgust ~ Ecstasy ~ Embarrassment ~ Empathy ~ Enthusiasm ~ Envy ~ Euphoria ~ Fear ~ Gratitude ~ Grief ~ Guilt ~ Happiness ~ Hatred ~ Hope ~ Hostility ~ Humiliation ~ Impatience ~ Indignation ~ Insecurity ~ Jealousy ~ Joy ~ Loneliness ~ Loss ~ Love ~ Lust ~ Malice ~ Melancholy ~ Nostalgia ~ Panic ~ Passion ~ Pity ~ Pride ~ Rage ~ Regret ~ Remorse ~ Resentment ~ Sadness ~ Shame ~ Sorrow ~ Suffering ~ Surprise ~ Sympathy ~ Wonder ~ Worry