Let’s face it, we’re living in a world where having, being, and doing more is a call to action that is in our face every where we go. Both in mainstream media and social media we are faced with messages that we should be running after more, that we should be doing more and having more. That we must always be more than we are right now. And you know what? I hate it.
These messages fuel the idea that we should never be content with where we are in life, that there are better things just around the corner if we keep chasing them. We’re shown images of beautiful food, beautiful people and beautiful places telling us that we should be more authentic, we should be more mindful, that we should be more proactive and we should be more..be more..be more, but none of these messages really address the one thing I think we need to focus on the most in this current culture, that we don’t need to be more, we just need to be.
I don’t know about you but some days I feel like a little hamster running on a wheel, running and running and not quite getting anywhere. I work and cross things off my to-do list, feel proud of myself that I’m getting somewhere only to have them all replaced with new things, it’s the reality of growing up, it’s the reality of being self-employed. The message of “BE MORE, DO MORE” pops up into my view and I suddenly feel like all the work that I have already done, wasn’t quite enough. So I run faster, I work harder, I spend more time and energy trying to chase that “MORE”. But it never comes.
The way our culture works is that we’re in a constantly flowing river of information and influence. Many of us spend hours on social media each day, an endless scrolling database of the “best” of people’s lives. We see the best of their breakfasts, the best of their coffees, the best of their vacations, and we fall into the trap that they live in a world of “Bests”, a world where they’ve accomplished that ever elusive idea of being “more” and now they’re rewarded with this picture perfect life. I admit, there are times when I feel like I’m stuck in that “perceived perfection”. But it’s not real, it’s a curated glimpse into what someone chooses to share with us, a filtered and stylized image of what the best life looks like. And it’s fueling this idea that those of us that don’t have those lives, need to keep running to get it.
The law of diminishing returns refers to a point at which the level of benefits gained is less than the amount of energy invested.
I believe that this idea of being more and doing more fits entirely into this concept. When we get a taste of what being “more” might feel like, we enjoy it so we work harder to get there. But the more we experience it the more we have to chase it because what was enough to make us happy a month ago, is no longer enough, that “more” is one more step ahead, and the chase begins. We don’t allow ourselves to feel happy in where we are because we’re chasing the idea that more happiness may be around the corner. We’re fed this idea that being good where we are is a bad thing, that we must always be striving for more, but I don’t agree that’s always the best way to be.
What I think is important, is to spend less time worrying about being and doing more, and instead focus on being proud of where you’ve been and where you are. In this age of instant gratification we seldom take time to reflect and enjoy where we are right now, and without that time to celebrate where we are in our lives, we forget the good things and instead focus on the things we need to work on. Instead of chasing an idea that we need to be more we should be taking time to share exactly who we are and where we are in life. When I see people that are enjoying life right where they are, I’m much more inspired than by people that are exhausting themselves trying to “make it”.
As someone who feels anxious when I’m not being productive, I feel this idea that I must always be “working” in order to be happy. That I must always be “being more” in order to have a good life. It’s fuel for that anxiety. On days when I’m trying my best to eat healthy, go running, respond to emails, get enough sleep, be creative, spend time with family and friends, I can’t imagine telling myself “Joel, you should be more”. It feels like telling someone who’s barely treading water to swim harder. On those days, I’m being exactly what I need to be to be happy, and I don’t think we spend enough time allowing ourselves to feel content where are in life.
You are you, you’re the only you we have and your insight is important in this world.
If you’re so busy chasing the idea that you must be more, you don’t get an opportunity to share who you are, you’re too busy trying to see if the next thing you catch will be enough. I’m not suggesting we stop trying to improve our lives or work toward our goals, I’m suggesting that instead of chasing the idea of MORE that we acknowledge that where we are in life right now, can be a perfectly good place to be. That we can stop and enjoy the life we have instead of trying to race to an imaginary, curated, promised land.
So in short, the only thing I think you should be more of, is you.