Screw Contentment

Learn to be satisfied

Enough is enough

Be anxious for nothing

Learn to be content

That’s what they told you.

And so you lowered your head in self-chastisement, resolving to be more grateful, more satisfied… to be more content.

Here’s the thing:

You aren’t made for contentment.

You’re wired to STRIVE.


When you shame the striving out of a man, bad shit happens.

THAT’S when a man’s demons go loose:

THAT’S when addiction blooms: man’s innate striving twisted and suppressed, chewing on itself in starvation, robbed of fruitful obsessions.

This doesn’t mean you’re fated to an unhappy life… doesn’t mean you’re fated to be some shiftless, grasping thing… doesn’t mean you have license to dump discontent on the people around you:

It means that your natural compulsion to elevate your family’s station, and to create higher levels of health, joy, and flourishing isn’t some neurosis to be cured of, but a GIFT to be brandished, refined, and fed…

…that you should embrace your restlessness, that you might strive henceforth unhindered, unburdened of guilt.

We are energized by entropy, lit by labor, strengthened by sacrifice, renewed by reaching, pleasured by pain.

It’s not the comfort of the couch but the exhaustion of the campfire after a long day’s journey that feeds us, legs blazing with work and the heat of the fire, backside freezing in the night cold, your tent calling you to a short slumber, and then off again at dawn.

That is the drivenness that brightens your eyes.

That is the paradox we’re both bound and freed by.

So stop wishing for a gentler spirit.

Stop trying to make your life simpler or smaller in some vain pursuit of “contentment:”

Seek out the maddening puzzle.

Walk the gnawing paths.

Double-down on discontent.

Only then will you feel at home in your skin.

Only then will you know the peace of the fray.

Bryan Ward is the founder of Third Way Man and author of the LIT Black Paper

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