There are, indeed, two forms of discontent: one laborious, the other indolent and complaining. We respect the man of laborious desire, but let us not suppose that his restlessness is peace, or his ambition meekness. It is because of the special connection of meekness with contentment that it is promised that the meek shall “inherit the earth.” Neither covetous men, nor the grave, can inherit anything; they can but consume. Only contentment can possess.
The most helpful and sacred work, therefore, which can at present be done for humanity, is to teach people (chiefly by example, as all best teaching must be done) not how “to better themselves,” but how to “satisfy themselves.”
From Selections of the Writings of John Ruskin, New York, John Wiley & Son, 1872