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I have every reason to be content. I live in one of the most affluent and privileged cultures in the history of civilization. I enjoy the freedom to learn, speak, and even sing whatever my heart desires. I have daily access to clean water, wholesome food, and shelter from the elements. I am employed – and I even have the option to change careers at any time I wish. Friends, I am living the dream. I really have every reason to feel happy, expectant, and fulfilled; yet, I sometimes feel a disquieting emptiness and a deeper longing for significance.

You see, I struggle to find contentment in a culture seemingly obsessed with “self.” There is constant societal pressure to find our self-worth in our appearance and/or what we attain in life – whether material possessions, status, or a veneered sense of spirituality. So we can be inclined to keep others at arm’s length. We tend to over-manage relationships with friends, family, and co-workers in a subtle but desperate attempt to protect our own vulnerabilities. I too fall prey to carefully selecting what façade I share with others through the Internet – especially when it comes to Social Media. So I worry that not only I, but the people I love, are missing out on a more purposeful life that is deeper in meaning – brimming with authentic connections, fulfillment, and lasting contentment.

I was once counseled to “go serve other people” for a period of time to see what impact it would have on my life outlook – and you know what? It deeply and profoundly impacted me. I discovered that as I served, the more thankful I felt, and the more content I actually became. I was participating in something with life long implications. I am convinced that in a self-obsessed culture looking for fulfillment, thankfulness is the key to true contentment.

Through serving others, I found great relief in taking the focus off my unsatisfiable self. Now it’s likely some readers will chafe against this statement because it goes against the more conventional wisdom of pursuing one’s passions at all costs – but is such self-obsession what life is all about? Are we really telling generations to come, that their hope, fulfillment, and contentment can only be found in themselves? I’m not so sure I want my life to stand for such a notion.

Consider this: people from all walks of life share one commonality – we are human. We have value. We are image-bearing beings that are meant to connect. I mean really connect. We have the ability to impact one another for better or worse. Something as simple as a smile could change the course of a life. And when we live intentionally – by authentically connecting with and serving others, our humanity displays something greater about reality. Something glorious. And it’s good.

Do you want to find lasting contentment?

Get connected. Serve others. Be thankful.

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JOAL KAMPS is a co-founder of the Canadian folk/roots group Flint & Feather – a husband and wife duo who are passionate about connecting with people through music, stories, and laughter. By blending storytelling with songwriting, Joal and Lauren Kamps create "Rocky Mountain Folk-Pop" songs inspired by North America's majestic landscape, rocky mountain folklore, and their own personal journeys.

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This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Awesome, it made my day. I am longing to be of service to others, not quite sure where to begin. Thank you for has ring this uplifting story.

    1. Thanks Else! What are you passionate about in life? Often times there’s great opportunities to serve others in an area that you feel strongly about. The Arts? Social Justice? Health? Environment? The possibilities are endless.

  2. Thanks Joal. yep. the unsatiable self. And we humans believe in chasing happiness and finding it. i got sucked in too despite the unrelenting loss of loved ones . So many losses. And still i kept searching. i was a self obsessed addict. One day life fell around me with nowhere to go other than accept the reality. The reality being exactly what you said. But i can’t tell people, not even friends or family. They still believe that its all good and will stay good!!!!! i’m 65, my friends are between 60 and 85.!!!!!!! . They justify death sickness and old age saying ‘i had a good innings, i have no regrets”. bulldust!!!! its a lie, we lie barefaced to ourselves.

  3. Joal, me again, helen. to answer your actual question. i’m reading 2 books . one is called ‘NO SELF NO PROBLEM’, by ANAM THUBTEN’ the 2nd one ‘WHO IS MY SELF’. by AYYA KHEMA. So my passion is to find contentment beyond the desires of this self. A self i slowly steadily created from culture, family, religion, society. A self that i now believe is a mistaken identity. helen.

  4. Joal, Thank you for your inspirational thoughts today. What a wonderful start to the work week, I’ve shared to my social accounts for all of the reasons you have included within your writing. Our Communities harvest what we hope will bring so much more to the ones we Love and the places we live and support. One Love Together, that should be what life is all about…always.


  5. Great article Joal, thanks. There is so much attention on self these days and IMHO it doesn’t align with being grateful or thankful and the value of being of service has ben lost somewhere along the way. Good to reset and connections on an authentic and very human basis are ones which bring us joy and which we value.

  6. A lovely article and reminder :-)… Thankfulness, simplicity, kindness and a smile goes a long way. Here’s to a magical week xo

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