Many of us today are running so fast to keep up that we have lost track of just what we are trying to keep up with. Stream of consciousness messages about having more or being more dominate our economic, political and social landscapes. Our jobs demand us to put in extra hours to achieve more sales or more profitability. Our kids seem to need more to prepare them for the world of tomorrow. Getting, having and being more is choking the life out of us. And most likely our planet.
"ENOUGH already," you scream in frustration and despair at the end of the day. How do I battle this Monster for More that meets me around every corner?
I grappled with this question for the last couple of months. I succumb to the "more trap" as easily as the next person. Our neighbors went to an RV show and suddenly I found myself looking at slick RV brochures. Retailers target my e-mail with messages telling me to spend $50 now and get a $10 savings. Even the best intentions, adding yoga to my fitness repertoire, demand spending on a yoga mat and appropriate attire. Of course all of these wants and needs require funding, and that translates to stellar performance at work (maybe I am a type A personality). Keeping the Blackberry within arm's length at all times starts to make sense.
Did any of this make me happy? I believe we all know, somewhere deep in our intuitive and spiritual selves, more is usually not the answer (assuming basic needs for food, shelter, etc. have been met). The proverbial hampster on the wheel becomes reality and getting off seems impossible. Here are a few resources and ideas to manage the Monster for More:
- Get some good information that hits home for you. "Twelve by Twelve: A One Room Cabin Off the Grid and Beyond the American Dream" by William Powers tackles the question of what is enough. Living a smaller, simpler life in harmony with nature is encouraged. Powers provides examples of societies and people living with enough - enough food, shelter, clothing, and medical care. These are people who are contributing to their communities and are enjoying happy and supportive relationships. Amazingly, 60% of the worlds' population lives with what they consider enough. 20% live with more than enough and 20% with not enough. Other books suggested the ideas of nurturing creativity, taking a mini retirement, and considering that everything we strive for (want) requires an exchange of life energy.
- Think twice about going out. If you have to go out for something, make sure you have somewhere to be at a non-negotiable time. That sounds crazy, but for most of us, our urban environment is filled with impulse activated spending opportunities. Going to the bank and picking up the dry cleaning we grab a latte along the way. The $5.00 Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon expires today and wouldn't those placemats be just-oh-so-perfect for the brunch you are hosting this weekend? If you HAVE to be somewhere, you stay focused on what you really NEED to do. If you don't go out, your not so urgent errands collect on a list. When you finally go out, your own natural desire to knock out that list and not spend hours on end chasing from place to place creates its own non-negotiable time limit.
- Walk or bike instead of drive. You will be amazed at how your perspective changes about what you need when you have limited carrying capacity. Side benefits include getting exercise and saving on gasoline.
- Wait a day to buy anything that is outside of the basic essentials (e.g. food, gasoline, health care).
- Consider the opportunity cost. The most valuable things in life are your health, the people you love, and time. Are you giving up these things to pursue more of something else? Taking on an extra assignment at work, to get promoted, to earn more money may require more time away from home and your family. More money might seem important, but consider the stress of missing your kid's ball game and having your partner feeling like you are an uninvolved parent. That example may be oversimplified, but you get the point. Know your priorities and develop a sense of mindfulness about the choices you are making.
None of us is perfect, and I don't expect that many of us want to or can live like Mother Teresa. I know that I will always fight the battle between being content with what I have (or am) and thinking I need more (or to be better). I know in the moments I have chosen to be content with what I have (or am), I have felt deep satisfaction. I feel a sense of peace that recognizing enough(ness) offsets the other times when wanting more has won out.
Do you have a technique you use to battle the Monster for More? Post a comment and share with others your ideas on this subject!