We pay a price for the endless pursuit of "more" as we chase the mirage of "enough.”
The endless pursuit of "enough" is exhausting. Let's be honest. We trick ourselves if we believe the outcome of chasing a mirage can be anything different. Sadly, peoples' myopic focus on "more" often leads to actions that can't be undone—choices they regret and decisions that will die with them.
In some cases, what people are pursuing "more" of is a convenient distraction from why they're running in the first place. At times, underlying the endless quest for something else is a different ache. The real question isn't, "What is enough?" Instead, it's—"Am I enough?" When someone, at their core, can't divorce who they are from what they produce it's a scary prospect to consider doing less. For others, the scars of scarcity have made the proposition of creating a wide enough moat of security psychologically impossible. They are strangled by their anxiety.
One of the problems with chasing "more" is that most people don't bother to do enough soul-search to create an actual definition of what "enough" means to them. They haven't defined metrics; therefore, measurement is often haphazard if it happens at all. The race they are running leaves them too tired to critically examine the construct they are charging after.
What is it?
What happens when you have it?
Even when people identify in their mind what would satisfy them in the future, the insidious nature of hedonic adaptation continues to move mental goal posts just out of reach. Don Draper wasn't mad. He had it right: "What is happiness? The moment before you need more happiness."
We hear it all the time. "I don't have enough _____." Time. Money. Energy. Fill in the blank with any number of powerful constituents of the human experience. Ironically, failing to be present and staying fixed on what we want in the future can cause us to squander what we do have right in front of us. In our hustle-porn, comparison-trapped culture, we pursue hedonism but do an abysmal job of stopping to savor and enjoy what we hold in our hands—the moments that become our history in a blink of an eye.
When we do bother to interrogate what we believe about "enough," the questions asked often miss the mark. If we invert, reverse engineer, and consider what our "enough" might be at the end of our existence, I don't think these are the questions that will haunt us:
Do I have enough?
Did I make enough?
How can I get more?
The "more" you will ache for on your last day will likely be different than what is motivating you today. We'll wrestle with the natural consequences of the collection of our life choices. In the end, we'll search our souls to the answers to these kinds of queries:
Was I present enough?
Did I give enough?
Did I live enough?
What did I miss?
One of the most evocative questions I sometimes pose to people is, "If you could pay any price of money to go back and relive a moment of your life, what would it be?" It often knocks people back on their heels into a heavy place. It taps into regret. Grief. Sometimes shame. This simple question is visceral. Emotional—sometimes nauseating even.
Here's the thing: we don't get to buy back time. We rationally know this but still seem to be swept under by unconscious undercurrents that keep us from stewarding our days well. So often, people's pursuit of "enough" comes at the cost of their presence. Many people are motivated and driven by a burning need for more money, possessions, power, or prominence. Too bad those things are pretty hollow at the end.
We all, on some level, grapple with, "What is ‘enough’?" It will serve us (and the people we love) to define it and draw a line in the sand. Say it out loud and have someone hold you accountable. We often need outside help to interrupt intertia and struggle to stop on our own. We justify and rationalize to our detriment. "Just a little more" is a temptress few can resist.
Your regrets when you're dying will not be about how hard you pushed but how little you stopped—what you missed when you failed to slow down. The minutes, the moments we're given every day evaporate quick. The clock stands still for no one.
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