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Contentment as vice

“Contentment used to be a virtue. Now it’s a vice.”

I came across this line on Brad Feld’s blog

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Brad, he is a successful entrepreneur and early stage VC investor. He cofounded the Foundry Group, Mobius Venture Capital, Intensity Ventures and Techstars, and sold his first company back in 1993. 

But Brad has also struggled with depression over the years and so you’ll find that a number of his blog posts are also quite contemplative.

This particular post – where the above line comes from – is about a societal norm that I am sure many of you can relate to. I know I can. Here’s another snippet from the post:

“We talked for a few minutes about the overall, dominant American culture of achievement. The endless striving. The need to feel busy, important, and successful. The deep cultural norms around ambition.”

Whether it’s because we’re all deeply insecure or because we just need to fulfill our egos, this has become our modus operandi. It has become all about “the hustle” and about “crushing it 24/7.”

Just this evening I was at a friend’s birthday party and I couldn’t tell you how many times I said “busy.”

“Hey Brandon, how are things?”


This is an absolutely terrible response. I know that. And I’ve started introducing other responses into my small talk repertoire. But busy is so ingrained in our culture. Being busy makes us feel important. It means we are in demand. We do things. We create value.

But is the reverse – not being busy – now a vice?

Regardless of your position on the appropriate balance between contentment (being ok with what you’ve got) and work (striving for more than what you’ve got), I think the first line of this post is an incredibly poignant commentary on the life that many of us live today.

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