June 8, 2015

I found this entry I wrote five years ago regarding the cultural noise we're inundated with every day that more is better. As it's always nice to have thoughts suggesting an alternative approach to the predominant societal voice, decided to repost...

“There is a way that we keep moving in our culture that really doesn’t help us get ahead.” I read this line someone else wrote recently and paused, because there seemed to be a lot of truth in that single sentence. This need for constant movement, this internal striving that rarely produces anything fruitful…what is this about? You could describe it many ways. It could be defined as a need for constant improvement, or as a never-ending quest to get what is still out of reach. Or possibly a perpetual, but often hidden dissatisfaction with what is. A nagging feeling that somehow, what I have or who I am or what I'm doing is not yet enough. This concept of being enough is deep, I think. How much of what drives us in life is the subtle fear of not being enough? The belief that somehow we do not measure up, that we are not yet what we should be. Subscribing to a belief of deficiency creates a lot of false pressure. It keeps us on our treadmill of choice. It erodes quality of life and the experience of joy.

What if we were to believe something along the opposite lines, that perhaps more is not better, that the quest for constant improvement and upgrades is a cycle that never delivers what it promises. Some of the happiest people I’ve ever encountered have either lived in or been from countries where people generally have much, much less, and, are also much more able to "be" in the midst of whatever life is offering in the current moment (which counteracts nicely the constant upward, future-oriented treadmill in many first world countries). When the option of more and better is put before you every single day, no wonder so few people radiate true contentment. Momentary happiness, sure. But not a deep-seated contentment that you can feel.

I think we can’t help but internalize, to some degree, society's messages of not enough. And so I think we engage in this kind of perpetual movement in order to numb these uncomfortable feeling states, to ward them off somehow. But perhaps it is our thinking that needs to change, not so much our circumstances themselves. Perhaps there is more good than we have been taught to see. Perhaps who we are, and the inevitable mix of ups and downs that accompanies our lives, is a mirror of actual abundance that we don't yet recognize. Perhaps we can exchange some of this need to strive and constantly be in motion for greater internal freedom instead.

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