I met my wife when I was 25. Prior to that, I was that loser "nice guy" who complained about not being able to meet girls. When I had friends who complained about their wives or girlfriends, I'd tell them that they should be happy they have someone to complain about.
I think we all have an area of our lives that we're unhappy with, yet there is always somebody around to tell us that we should be happy with it. "I don't like my job" is answered by "Well, at least you have a job. You should be happy that you have a job".
On some levels, we should be content with what we have. But on other levels, doesn't some discontentment drive us on to better things? If you don't like your job, shouldn't that drive you to get a better one? If you don't like your neighborhood, shouldn't that drive you to move to a better one?
Is it really smart to stay in a job you don't like just because there are people who don't have jobs?
When I was a kid, my mom was a really bad cook. Yes, we talked about it after I grew up. She knew she wasn't very good at cooking, and my dad liked his food incredibly bland, which is what she cooked for. I like lots of flavor. When my mom cooked something that I couldn't eat, (seriously, I grew up thinking lasagna was horrible!) I'd be told "You should eat that. There are starving kids in Africa". I always suggested we send my mom's cooking to Africa and let me make a sandwich.
I'm not sure there are any hard and fast rules to govern the situations where you should be content with your situation and when you should strive for better. I think if you exercise wisdom and caution, you should be all right. If you don't like your car, but you have to place your family in financial peril to make the payments on a new one, then you should probably be content with your car. If you don't like your house, but you have to take up a sub-prime Adjustable Rate (Rape) Mortgage (ARM) to get a better one, then you should probably be content with what you have for now. If you don't like your spouse, I can't help you in this post, but I have come across some interesting thoughts on love that I might share in another if anybody will actually read it. It helped me a lot.
If you don't like your job, I'm all in favor of bettering yourself and getting a better job. I've done it a few times myself. There are ALWAYS jobs out there. Yes, even in the Great Depression there were jobs. 30% unemployment means 70% employment. You just have to stand out a little better to get a job in those situations, but they're out there.
I guess "be content with what you have" could function as a general guiding principle by which to live your life, but it shouldn't be considered a law of behavior.
I think I've rambled on enough and not given enough answers. What about you? What rules do you have for when you should be content and when you should strive to improve?