No matter how much you do, there’s always more. More money to earn, more possessions to own, more people to impress, more muscle to build, more weight to lose, more books to read, more activities to do, more concerts to see, more countries to visit. More.
On one hand, this is exciting. There’s always new information to learn which helps to keep life interesting. Few things feel as good as dopamine rushing through our brains with this prospect of more. On the other, it can be overwhelming. You’re never doing or having enough. Especially compared to others. Our success comes in negotiating the balance. (Even this idea of success in negotiating a balance involves more.)
Working towards goals helps to drive personal progress. This plays a major role in our reported feelings of happiness and satisfaction. It also relies heavily on more in the future. Even if this goal is ‘to work less,’ it implies you want more time to dedicate to a different task.
We desire happiness. It’s often said that happiness is a choice, which makes perfect sense if you’re happy. The problem being, if you’re unhappy, desperately seeking happiness pushes it further away. It’s the Chinese finger trap of the emotion world. Happiness isn’t a state we should desire because it’s not something we ‘achieve.’ Many of the ways we think about this mysterious beast relate to why we want more. We will be happy when we have more. Which is the essence of desire.
The places and things that insist most loudly that they will make you happy rarely do.
Joy prefers to arrive quietly and alone elsewhere, unceremoniously and unannounced.
Meanwhile, you search for happiness in distractions.
– Derren Brown “Happy“
There’s always less
The alternative to more, is less. You could have less than you have right now. Less money, less friends, less hope, less health. If you’re like me and feel this way of thinking breeds stagnation through false content, then refer back to the idea of balance. Be aware that there could be more and less.
Gratitude is a practice popularised through meditation and journalling. It also forms the basis of prayer in religious communities. Being thankful for what you have is acknowledging that you could have less and that you are fortunate. I’m thankful for the roof over my head and the abundance of food in the cupboard. I could be homeless and starving.
This is all there is
In truth, all that we have in this exact moment, is all that there is. There is no past, there is no future, there is only now. We have no way of guaranteeing that a future will ever arrive. Of course we must still live in hope that there will be a future. We should save, learn and nurture but put the concept of more into perspective and treat it with a healthy respect.
Do we really have anything? Everything we ‘have’ is simply borrowed. When we die it will no longer be ‘ours’ so live accordingly.