Contentment does not consist in heaping up more fuel, but in

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Senior Member
Hello everyone,

Contentment does not consist in heaping up more fuel, but in taking away some fire.
Thomas Fuller

What is the general meaning of this quoute?
All words look familiar but, unfortunately, make no sense to me in the sentence above.

Thank you.
  • se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Without more context, we have less idea than you, because we don't know what fire and fuel symbolise here. Is this from a list of allegedly famous or wise sayings, offered without context?


    Senior Member
    I think this is the context:

    Summary of deleted text: In the winter, when the weather was cold and he needed big fire for heating, his contentment increased as he piled up the wood. As the season changed and the weather grew warmer, it was too warm for a fire.

    The stacks of wood began to look different to me now. They stood at ready giving me confidence that here was enough. With the decreasing need, the desire to amass more diminished. I found that contentment did not consist of heaping up more fuel, but in taking away some of the fire.
    Edited to reduce text to comply with 4 sentence limit on quotation. Cagey, moderator.
    Last edited by a moderator:


    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Thank you for finding the context, MIchael3000. As you can see, the section that was given as a quotation did not contain enough context for other people to understand it.

    What they have in mind is the idea that when it is cold, the bigger our woodpiles are, the more content and secure we feel. However, when the weather is warmer, a big fire will overheat the room, and we will be more comfortable with a smaller fire, or with no fire at all.

    As I said, the fragment in the Forbes Book of Quotations does not work as a stand-alone quotation.


    Senior Member
    English - American
    I would loosely paraphrase it as "Contentment is found not by having more, but by needing less".

    Obviously the precise details of the story are a bit different, but that's the overall subtext as I read it.


    New Member
    I actually see the meaning of the quote slightly differently.

    Contentment here is associated with the need for warmth. Although building up resources (fuel) is necessary, the actual contentment comes in creating the warmth (fire).

    Metaphorically: People often spend their lives focusing on building up, collecting resources. They forget that real contentment is about using those resources to meet our needs.

    That's not quite it, but I think I am on to something here.
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