Have you noticed that ‘Enough’ is always just around the corner? It’s close. Nearly there. But hey, just one more to make sure.
You’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever spent time with a young child doing something they find fun. Laughter and demands of ‘again! again!’ quickly turn to distress and intense anguish as you attempt to terminate the game after a few hours.
‘One more’ may become another ‘final one’ and will keep doing so through ‘ok last time’ and then eventually ‘seriously, this really is the very final time this time’. At which point they may be so worn out by the fun that they have an uncontrollable breakdown, and demand even more of the very thing that took them over the edge into emotional destruction.
For many of us, unless we’re very intentional about it our idea of ‘enough’ is an ever-growing value. A goal post that keeps moving. Perpetually just out of reach. And it leaves us with an unresolvable sense of stress (with a belief that we are in control) that can eat away from within.
‘Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there’ – Eckhart Tolle
Despite how it may feel, the quest for ‘enough’ is not simply a personal struggle against our own inability to control ourselves. It may feel like a lone problem, one that keeps you separated from everyone else.
But the truth is, this is a collective issue.
In fact, ‘Enough’ is the enemy of much of our modern world. Our economic system, which is the bedrock and foundation of our reality demands us to be dissatisfied with who, what, where, and how we are. Because as long as we feel that stress we are ready to buy things in the hope that they fill that gap between here and there.
Over the years this has had a draining impact on introverts and highly sensitive people. In a world defined and measured by quantity, it can be difficult to live in harmony with a natural desire for ‘less but meaningful’.
Different Kinds of Growth
We can get confused. The inwardly deepening and strengthening growth that sures up the foundations of ourselves and our communities is not the same as the indiscriminate ideology of more: the belief that happiness is linked to accumulation.
‘Desire what you have’
We are taught to believe in problems that don’t truly exist. We are told that we need to look or behave in certain ways in order to be cool, attractive, creative, successful etc. We are sold solutions to the desire for an abstract feeling. And we take the bait.
There is no destination. No success. The goal posts just keep moving.
But the problem at hand isn’t that our destination isn’t reachable, rather we can find answers to our discontentment by considering the relationship we have with the present moment.
We are encouraged and so distracted by the ‘if onlys’ (stress) that we forget to remember “happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have” as Hyman Schachtel put it.
In many examples stress can be boiled down to wanting what you don’t realise you already have. Or wanting perpetually more of what you already have. For many of us it can be found in believing that what we are made to be at our core is not enough to successfully work with. This has consistently been a reality for many introverts and highly sensitive people.
More is Less
There is an absurd paradox within this ‘Always More’ mindset that sees problems to be solved through accumulation.
More and more of one thing becomes less and less or the ultimate aim. For example if you want to be at peace and happy and you believe money is the key to achieving that outcome, but then the more money you make beyond the tipping point of necessity the further you eventually deviate from the destination.
What was once true isn’t necessarily always going to be the case.
“If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” – Abraham Maslow
More is Procrastination
In an article he wrote for his blog, Paul Jarvis says that “you already have all the tools you need to start doing what you want to do. The only thing stopping you is your assumption that what you already know isn’t enough. Challenge this assumption, realize there’s never “knowing enough to start”, and act.”
We use ‘more’ to procrastinate. To put off starting. Another ‘how to’ book, a new piece of technology, just one last article to read. Like playing with a child, it’s up to us to draw that line and say ‘enough’.
More is Easy
It doesn’t take a genius to over-complicate things. It’s not a sign of intelligence to be able to add more. It takes a master to communicate complex ideas in simple terms that anyone can understand.
It takes great discipline to strip away the excess and focus on the core of what truly matters. This is especially true when set on the backdrop of a culture of tail-chasing, which attempts to solve the problem of busy and overwhelm by piling on more and more.
As gentle rebels we have an important task; to lead the world away from this absurd mindset and into one of ‘enough’ and contentment. Not to reject growth but to reframe it as something that starts within, is rooted in character, and is defined by who we are not who we are told we should be.
Over to You
When have you used ‘more’ to procrastinate or medicate for stress? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one. Please leave your response in the comments below.