May 24, 2016

Pursue your Dreams or Be Content? The Battle Between “More” vs. “Enough.”

good enough calvin happy

Is it ever okay to want more, when you already have enough?

I grew up in a materially comfortable environment. I was grateful that I never wanted for the basic necessities, and my family always had the home stability and financial resources to take us on vacations and purchase products of dubious necessity that promised to make life easier and more enjoyable.

Yet, despite the fact that I had what most people on the planet would see as “enough,” I felt something lacking deep in my core, even as a child.

I knew there was more to life than just being financially comfortable, yet I felt guilty for wanting more, because I theoretically had everything. I had enough. I wasn’t sure what more I wanted. All I knew as a child was that the feeling of lack didn’t feel right.

This is what I call the internal battle of More vs. Enough—modern conscious awareness seems to be divided over the idea of wanting “more” from life or simply being happy with what we have.

On the one hand, the new-age, personal development—and some spiritual philosophies—generally advocate an abundance mindset, in order to manifest abundance in all areas of life. Some believe that having more will make you happy and cure any childhood wounds, while others believe that giving and receiving more makes the world a happier place.

“Don’t settle! Go for your dreams! The world is your oyster!”

On the other hand, some spiritual philosophies and religions advocate being content with enough. That more stuff and more money does not make a person happy, and that whatever we have and are experiencing in the present moment should be enough for us to be happy.

“Live in the now! Be grateful for what you have! What you have is always enough!”

In this battle of More vs. Enough, which philosophy actually leads to happiness? And is it really “un-spiritual” to want more from life? It might depend on what is the “more” that you want…

I think most elephant journal readers would agree that having more stuff and more money doesn’t automatically lead to happiness—and much has been written about simplifying your way to more clarity and happiness, à la Marie Kondo.

But I don’t agree that becoming an ascetic is the answer, either. (And coincidentally, neither did Buddha.)

Even though I consider myself spiritual, the extreme minimalist philosophy smacks too much of the phrases that denied my feelings as a child—phrases that I continued to tell myself into adulthood. These include: “Don’t complain,” “Don’t be greedy,” and the old adage, “There are children starving in Africa!”

These are all variations of: “I don’t deserve more.”

In support of being happy with enough, it is a mindful practice to think about how much money, possessions and living space we really need to be happy. Then we can then release what does not serve us and allow those resources to serve someone else.

However, in support of abundance, I think we should pursue much more than we ever thought we were capable of having or that possibly existed in the world.

Much more of what? Why—much more love, of course!

Love turns out to be the thing I wanted more of as a child. M-O-R-E is not a four-letter word when it comes to love, but sadly we many of us have been conditioned as children to not ask for more love, as if it were a bad word to utter and even worse to ask for it.

My heart breaks for those children who were physically and emotionally punished for asking for more love.

We may have been taught to accept the amount of love we are given, which was most likely a reflection of how much our parents loved themselves as individual people. If our parents’ parents never gave our parents the love they craved when they were children, the wounding around lack of love likely goes back many, many generations.

If our parents could not effectively reflect back to us the abundant source of love that we were when we were children, it’s time to dig deep and find that source which still lies dormant within us, waiting to be unleashed.

Then we must turn that love towards ourselves before we can turn it towards others in perpetual abundance.

Unapologetically ask yourself for more love—and then give yourself more than you ever thought possible, because you have so much more than enough.

Only then can we both give love, without wanting something in return, and receive love without wanting more. Love becomes enough when we have the courage to pursue more of it.


Author:  Belinda Kan

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Flickr/Mark W

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