The Illusion of More
June 09, 2016
Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little. Epicurus
A brand new college grad with his mortar board on says to me: Gotta get into grad school!
Comment to me after my 94 year old uncle passed: So sorry he did not make it to 95
Parents remark at their daughter's wedding: Now for my grandkids!
First question in an interview with me: How long do I have to do this job before I might get promoted?
Never enough. Never good enough.
One of the greatest distractions in life is this uneasy and ultimately sleep depriving feeling. It can motivate and haunt you. It can dominate our thinking and our actions. We see it in our social media, we see it in our credit card statements, we see it at work and talk about it with almost everyone. It is a silent and powerful under current that defines our lives. Wanting MORE.
Some believe this constant desire and pursuit for more is rooted in our biology — that it helped us to survive. Some believe that this pursuit is fundamental to a capitalistic society that requires consumerism, propelled by the media, culture and of course, all of us aid and abet the crime of MORE.
It is true that our survival instincts and competitive nature have brought us great progress and material luxuries. But when we lose ourselves to the MORE, that requires an intervention.
According to Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman, income does predict happiness—but only up to $75,000 per year.
The infinite and never satiable goal of a bigger, better, and more expensive version. We do live in a Big Gulp, Super Size, Monster truck, Power Ball, iPhone 10, All you can eat, Botox filled world that is relentless and unyielding. It is an epidemic.
The yearning for life and wealth shows no signs of aging even as a man grows old. It does not weaken with age. It is a lifelong disease. The man who gives it up finds happiness. Dharmasutras
I have come to appreciate Marie Kondo's popular and simple advice about Tidying. I have read her book and saw her speak recently. For me the essence is--Look at your things, things you did not remember you have, so many things--Look at each one of them and ask, "Does this spark joy in me?" If it does not, then get rid of it. Give it away to someone who needs or wants it. We should be surrounded by things and people that spark joy in us, right?
A desire arises in the mind. It is satisfied; immediately another comes. In the interval which separates two desires a perfect calm reigns in the mind. It is at this moment freed from all thought, love or hate. Complete peace equally reigns between two mental waves.– SWAMI SIVANANDA
Regardless of what we believe to be at the root of this constant wanting, it takes a conscious and deliberate effort to experience contentment or satisfaction in our lives — to fully appreciate life, people, and the activities we engage in. To stop and smell the roses, as my Dad used to say. To interrupt the impulses and the continuous thoughts that undermine our sense of self and the present.
Yes meditation helps a lot. Anything to disrupt the pattern and bring the world back into focus.
One of my favorite books is Instructions to the Cook describes the Zen Buddhist concept for the supreme meal. The supreme meal is when we live our life fully, wholeheartedly---a fully expressed life.
So the first principle of the Zen cook is that we already have everything we need. If we look closely at our lives, we will find that we have all the ingredients we need to prepare the supreme meal. At every moment, we simply take the ingredients at hand and make the best meal we can. It doesn’t matter how much or how little we have. The Zen cook just looks at what is available and starts with that.
And we become what we say. We evolve into our narratives. So when we say MORE, to ourselves and to others, that's what we believe and that's what we become.
Happiness will never come to those who fail to appreciate what they already have. Buddha
This is most evident in interviews and conversations. How people always tell me they are looking to make a change because they want more. The most over-used term is "growth" followed by "opportunity". I have learned these are code words for more money. Some souls are looking for meaning and fulfillment, but most want the "opportunity to grow". Grow to do what or be what?!! We may never know.
Here's what kills me. Many people have read the same blog posts :), received the same coaching and have the same routines, answers and presentations. And when the vast majority of the walking dead say, "I am looking for a place where I can (continue to) grow." I always ask, "What are your top priorities for personal and professional growth?" This is a stumper. The vast majority of people I meet say that the cause, the issue, even the industry "doesn't matter"!!! I wish I was kidding. They can't articulate what "more" they want. Money is embedded and hiding in these abstract thoughts of more. But what is most often avoided is any self awareness, authenticity, and or introspectiveness to identify what more they want to become.
More is superficial when disconnected from the "P" words of passion and purpose.
How much is enough?
The Illusion of More
Don't need a thing
To do our thing
We have what we need
To pursue what we heed
Everything before us
Nothing between us
The more of our world
Is the distraction
The less of ourselves
Is the attraction
When we forget me
We build on the we
The more takes from the now
It carries us to the next
Without gratitude or grace
It abruptly changes our place
For here is this moment
So full and complete
It's a shame we might waste it
So we can compete
For the more of tomorrow
And miss this special time
Are we deaf to the music
And what's left of this rhyme
No things is our aim
In the end
We are all the same jek
There are a few MOREs that deserve our attention:
More peace and social justice
More time with people we love
More solitude, silence, and soul nourishment
More effort to be kind and non-judgmental
More altruism where we give and help without any expectation
More joy, awe, and wonder.
Let's enjoy what we have . Let's find and nurture the spark of joy around us. Let's interrupt the nonsensical wanting impulses. No more.
Thanks for reading. John