Sunday, August 10, 2014

Enough Is Too Much

I'm sure you reached a point of frustration at some time during your life when you just threw your hands up and declared, "Enough is enough!" Everyone reaches that point at least once, if not multiple times during his or her life.

But, let me pose this question . . .

When does enough become too much?

Here is what I mean and I'll use a series of questions to make my point.

How long does it take until you have accumulated "enough" stuff that it becomes too much and begins to weigh you down emotionally, psychologically, physically, spiritually and financially?

How long does it take for you to stay in a job you dislike or despise "enough" that you'll tell your boss "to take this job and shove it?"

How long does it take until you spend "enough" time on the Internet or glued to the TV screen watching sports or pulp TV content or even news programs living vicariously through other people's lives when it doesn't add anything to your life, but is likely detracting from your life?

How long does it take for you to realize a relationship is toxic "enough" to have a negative impact on your emotional, psychological, financial and/or physical condition?

How long does it take for you to realize you've given up "enough" of your life to meet everyone else's expectations and demands that you've never lived up to or met your own personal expectations and dreams?

How long does it take to accept that there is only "enough" time and "enough" of yourself to serve one master . . . one captain of your own destiny?

How long does it take to reach the point when your finally realize that "enough is too much?"

We ALL Reach The Same Destination At The End Of Life's Journey.

It doesn't matter whether you, like me, were fortunate enough to be born in the United States of America or any other country considered a "Western" or "Developed" country or you were born in a small, primitive village somewhere in Asia, Africa, South America, some small island nation in the Pacific or Caribbean or any other undeveloped or underdeveloped place in the world. Your basic needs are the same as every other human on the planet. You need food, water, shelter and a sense of security from prevailing danger. We were all born with nothing and we'll take nothing with us when we leave except our memories.

The areas we, as individuals and societies, differ in begin with the "wants." The wants of a person in some small, remote primitive village might be a bright, yellow Hanes Beefy-T shirt or maybe a basic pair of, what we used to call, sneakers. Meanwhile, your wants might be a bright, yellow Ralph Lauren polo shirt or a pair of Air Jordan's. If you're a woman, similar comparisons apply. Depending on the part of the world, you may want a mule, horse or camel for your transportation. In the developed world that might translate to a hot Mustang, Camaro or a tricked out SUV.

The point is simple. The people in the undeveloped or underdeveloped societies needs are the same as yours, but their wants are much more modest. The wants in the developed world are much more extravagant. Not only are the wants more extravagant, but there seems to be an insatiable desire to accumulate more and more of these "wants" requiring more and more space to store it when one tires of it and moves on to something else.

Luxuries is another completely different category. A luxury for someone in an undeveloped society might be to have a dwelling of their own with perhaps three or four rooms and some kind of simple indoor toilet facility. This dwelling would be for only the immediate family. The parents, grandparents, siblings and grandchildren would live somewhere else.

You may feel a need for 5,000 to 50,000 sq. ft. with multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, special areas for entertaining, gaming, exercising, tinkering, playing and even indoor swimming pools, Jacuzzis, bowling alleys and theaters with surround sound. And let's not forget the multiple vehicle garages filled with Mercedes, Ferrari roadsters, Hummer H2's and a variety of exotic motorcycles.


Why the great disparity between the wants and luxuries of the undeveloped societies and your (my) developed society? The answer is actually pretty simple.

Because you can and they can't. It's really no different than that simple statement.

Why do you want all this "stuff?" Again, the answers are simple. First, because you see others with it and you want to keep up with the Jones's (or Vanderbilts). Second, because someone makes this stuff and through aggressive marketing makes you believe you "need" it, so you have to consume it. Third, because from a very early age in our modern, advanced, developed society, you were conditioned to be ready, willing and able to sell your life and soul into "indentured slavery" to get as much of the pie as you could accumulate. It's your way of spreading your wings and saying, "Look at me, what I've achieved and what I have." It identifies your position in the pecking order of society.

If you seriously looked at all your stuff today, how much of it could you really live very comfortably, happily and contentedly without? Would a nice Ford or Chevy get you to and from the same destinations that your Beamer or Mercedes does? Does a bright, yellow "house brand" shirt cover and protect you the same as the $75 or $100 designer label shirt?

Who Is Happier?

This question is subjective, of course. I don't know you and maybe you're the happiest person on the planet, in which case, I'm very happy for you. I'm not envious or jealous of you. I don't particularly want what you have. But, that goes back to the "different strokes for different folk," concept I've mentioned before. 

In general, studies seem to indicate that societies that are undeveloped and have very little of the kinds of material things we want or the luxuries we aspire to, seem to be happier societies. Within our own developed societies, those who choose to live simpler, less materialistic lifestyles, also seen to be happier. I am neither a psychologist nor an anthropologist, so I can't give you specific scientific data or statistics. I'm just relating what my readings and observations of the human condition are as I travel the U.S. And, to be honest, most of what I see and feel is nuance not overt demonstrations of happiness or unhappiness.

I certainly do not consider myself to be the judge or jury to condone or condemn your behavior or anyone else's. I am the judge over my own life and that's a big enough responsibility. If, in your heart of hearts, you're happy and free and living exactly the life you've always dreamed of, then carry on. I believe you have something most others don't have, but pretend they do. However, if you're not living the life you've always dreamed of, then maybe you need to go into your heart of hearts and ask the hard question . . . "Why not?" The answer is there. If you're an honest judge of your life, you'll know the answer and begin to make plans and choices and take actions to change it. If you're not an honest judge of your life, then you'll likely carry on the rest of your life always wondering why it's just not as you dreamed it would be.

So, when is enough too much? When you finally realize that enough is enough and it's time to make some changes. Any thoughts on this? I'm always open to your ideas. 


Fireman428 said...

Very valid and true Ed. Also worth mentioning in those "undeveloped" tribal areas there seems to be less crime within their society. That creates the question, do they not steal because there's less "created" "needs" or is there a higher level of respect for each other?

John W. Abert said...

Well said. I'll email you regarding some other thoughts.