There is an age-old question: when is enough, enough?
The glib answer is ‘never’.
Or even glibber: ‘when it bleeds’.
Or something like that. But jokes aside, how good are we at detecting when enough is enough? On a physical level it is pretty easy. Most people would have pain receptors to guide them through that one.
On an emotional level it is probably harder, but still not too difficult. People generally are self-aware enough to know when they are happy or sad – and also when they are making someone happy or sad.
On psychological level it is another story altogether:
We are told from a very young age that we can be whatever and whoever we want to be. We are led to believe that we are free to do as we please. We are brainwashed into believing having fun is all that matters. The mantra of the new-age parent is ‘whatever makes you happy’. Media promises the world to anyone who’d care to listen and has enough brains to believe them (but enough to question.)
Happiness is being beautiful. Success is another car or bigger TV. Life is achievement. Winners take all, but fortunately everyone can be winner.
The sad, sad truth is that, as a human race, we have been suckered into believing all of that stuff, and it is the worst possible thing you could believe. You see all of life is believed to be progression: a beginning, middle and an end. We have a linear view of life. We tell stories in the same way. Marketing is all about telling those stories. It all about growth, about acquisition. Getting more. Being more. It is an ingrained belief that tomorrow is different.
But in fact, life is a circle: from dust to dust. The secret to happiness is not in the journey, not in the evolution, not in the discovery of something unknown over the next horizon. If you want to be truly peaceful and happy, here is the secret: Accept your situation.
Tomorrow is any different. You may be different; your circumstances may be different. But the future is no different to the past. And most importantly, your first day and your last day are pretty much exactly the same in that minute before you were born and the minute after you passed away.
There are powerful cultural and economic forces working against you, so I must grant that ‘acceptance’ is easier said than done. The prevailing view is that acceptance is standing still: the loser’s way. Those without guts and ambition accept what they’ve got.
But acceptance is simply believing that what you have is abundance. Enough is enough. Everyone knows the stats: If you have $10 in your pocket you have more than 90% of the world population (or something like that). How many people can you squeeze into that top 10% anyway? If you had no one to compare yourself to, would you still want more? If you were stranded on an island with all of your current possessions, but cut off from any human ‘benchmark’ of human possessions, would you still want more?
The answer is of course, that you only want more because you know there is more available. Or even worse, because other people have more. Think about that and weep.
Forget climate change. A real attitude change will do billion times more to make the world a better place: If we all learn to say: enough is enough. You will have an inner peace that will astound you and happiness that surpasses al understanding.
(I’ll start tomorrow. Just after I bought the new Sony Bravia flat screen.)