We live in a society that continually encourages us to pursue MORE – more money, more work, more success, more relationships, more experiences and more stuff. Personally, I love working towards goals and continually accomplishing new things. But this constant achievement-orientation can become addictive and it takes a toll on us – physically, mentally, emotionally and relationally. I can testify to that first hand. In fact, I've experienced what it is to virtually wear myself out in the unquestioned climb up the mountain of MORE.
For those of us who live in the West, we are born into a world where we breathe the air of Capitalism. It tells us that the 'normal' life involves acquiring more education, earning a bigger salary, moving to a bigger house, driving a newer car, building bigger businesses, living in expanding mega-cities, and growing larger churches. But is this what life is meant to be? And at what cost? Could the relentless pursuit of MORE actually be killing us and our planet? We sure have moved a long ways from the hunter-gatherer era of our human species where we only pursued what was sufficient for the day.
Yuval Noah Harari, who has a PhD from Oxford University, is the best-selling author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. In his most recent book, he calls Capitalism the religion of our time, with its belief in the supreme value of growth. He says, “If we somehow succeed in hitting the brakes, our economy will collapse, along with our society. The modern economy needs constant and indefinite growth in order to survive. If growth ever stops, the economy won’t settle down to some cosy equilibrium; it will fall to pieces. That’s why capitalism encourages us to seek immortality, happiness and divinity."
Australian sociologist Hugh Mackay talks about the human desire for more in his book What Makes Us ticks? The Ten Desires that Drive Us. He notes that the human appetite for whatever feels good seems insatiable and that the desire for more has an inherently dark side – greed. Greed can tip the balance towards excess, addiction and even mania. Instead of moderation and self-control, we end up with feelings of entitlement and frustration.
Could it be time to jump off the fast moving conveyor belt heading to the land of MORE and be satisfied with LESS? Is it worth considering being counter-cultural and choosing to live in the land of contentment?
Listen to these words of wisdom from the apostle Paul who lived in the all-consuming Roman Empire of the first century.
"I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am." Philippians 4:11-13. The Message Bible.
Here we have someone who is not against MORE but who isn't looking for MORE in order to be happy.
Over these next few weeks, we will be diving a little deeper into the specific things we seem to want MORE of … and questioning their validity. In the process, we might be able to live even more meaningful, fulfilled and joyful lives.