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Instead of toiling to get to the top, we should strive for the quiet satisfaction of a simple and sustainable lifestyle.
In February, I visited a small vineyard in a town called Frascati, just outside of Rome. It was a beautiful place, and the folks who worked there were unbelievably kind and absolutely loved what they did.
It was a simple place that inspired me to consider the juxtaposition between growth and contentment. I hope the thoughts and prompts below help you do the same.
As always, thanks for reading!
Contentment is the art of finding joy in simplicity.
We always want more in America. We start companies to create unicorns. We play not just to win but to win big. We’d rather spend $10 on a mega millions ticket than invest $10 in the S&P 500.
Instead of idealizing sustainability, we idealize growth at all costs.
Even when we purchase a home for our family to live in, we spend more time worrying about the return on our investment than we do enjoying the place.
We’ve confused the pursuit of growth with the pursuit of more.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t strive for growth, but contentment is just as important. We tend to think of contentment as a passive state that we reach after a particular milestone in life, but we don’t become content from external factors. It’s a choice we make internally; cultivating contentment takes just as much effort as maintaining consistent growth.
We’re enamored with glamor and success, but we’re quietly jealous of the folks who live simple lives and don’t crave anything more. Italians do a great job with this.
It only takes a day or two in Italy to realize everyone is content, relaxed, and grateful. They’re not lazy, but they’re not obsessed with growth. They work hard to create a nice life for themselves and when they do, they sit back, relax, and enjoy it.
Instead of toiling to get to the top, they enjoy the quiet satisfaction of a simple and sustainable lifestyle. The Antiche Terre Tuscolane vineyard in the town of Frascati embodies this philosophy better than anything else.
Thirty minutes outside of Rome, nestled on the side of a volcano, Frascati is a small town with everything it needs and nothing more. There’s a small but vibrant downtown with shops, restaurants, friendly pedestrians, and a lovely view of Rome in the distance.
The vineyard is a short drive from the center of town and is no bigger than a football field. They make small batches of 3 different wines each year, and olive trees surround the grapes to keep the bugs away. They create just enough olive oil every year for the family living on the vineyard and their friends down the road.
The home on the property is 300 years old and hasn’t been renovated since the day they laid the last brick. The same family has been living in the home and cultivating the vineyard for generations, and they only make enough wine to cover the costs of the business and provide themselves with a modest lifestyle.
They have no expansion plans, social media growth strategies, branding exercises, or e-commerce schemes in the works. They have no desire to continue growing their business or one-up their neighbors making wine down the street.
They make great wine, enjoy time with friends and family, and that’s it.
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What parts of your life are you content with?
What parts of your life are you chasing growth for growth’s sake?
How can you cultivate a lifestyle of quiet contentment?
A practical guide to balancing two important but competing mindsets.
Thanks for reading! I’ll see you next Sunday.