The Myth Of More
Posted on October 11, 2013 by Greg Habstritt
I have a question for you: Why are so many of our children depressed, drugged, and disillusioned?
Here is the answer: We’re teaching them to be that way.
Not on purpose, of course. But the result is still the same, no matter how much we love our kids.
As the father of a 5 year old boy, this is a topic that is close to my heart.
What I’ve observed and learned over the past couple of years is that the core problem is that human beings are addicted to MORE.
Why IS it that human beings are so driven to crave MORE — of everything?
Think about it – whether we say it or not, we’re wired to believe that more is better.
Bigger. Faster. Stronger. Longer. Higher.
Whatever you have right now, there’s a better one somewhere.
But, as a rotund television psychologist likes to say, “how’s that working for ya?”
> We have more food options and nutritional information available than ever before, but obesity is at an all time record high (not just for people, but for pets too!)
> The average size of homes has risen for decades, yet the actual size of households is shrinking (and that space needs to be filled – so let’s buy more stuff!)
> The average price of a vehicle is rising, even through the latest downturn (shouldn’t they be getting cheaper with technology, improvements, etc?)
> A US study done a few years ago shows that the average American has 0.8 close friends in which they can confide. In case you’re weak on numbers, that means the average person doesn’t even have 1 close friend. No wonder people are lonely and depression is skyrocketing!
I’ve spent a lot of time during the last couple of years pondering this – wondering what IS it that drives humans to constantly want MORE?
Here’s what I believe are the 3 major drivers of wanting more:
1. The human desire to achieve and excel
God bless us all – we’re pretty much all wired with an instinctual sense of survival & to crave security & safety. In the “good old days” if you weren’t driven to find food and basic things, you would die. So I believe we were all given this internal gift of wanting to ensure we would be able to survive. But not only that – most people also have an internal need to grow and learn. And this inner sense of wanting to “be better” feeds the desire of wanting more.
2. Well crafted marketing founded in psychology
Picking up where our basic human drives leave off, the world of business and government is happy to have “cracked the code” of what causes people to “want” — and they’ve been able to master the art of not only identifying what people want, but influencing it and actually creating desire where none actually existed to begin with. Any decent marketing today is integrating multiple psychological “triggers” and effects, at several different layers. The average person has no hope trying to resist or avoid being pulled into the “more machine”.
3. A crisis of self-worth and esteem where people try to fill themselves with “stuff”
This is really the killer – the one that I think is pushing more people than ever before into the abyss of feeling Inadequate. Unfulfilled. Disillusioned. Unhappy. Lonely. Confused.
We feel pressured to compete with the Joneses. I’m dreading the day my 5 year old comes home and says he needs a new backpack or lunch box because “so and so” at school just got one and he needs one too.
With the blizzard of technology, marketing messages, stresses, fears and anxieties filling most people’s days, it’s become very difficult to feel calm and peaceful.
And if you ask me, social media is the BIGGEST driver of this for most people.
What we’ve done is substituted looking into people’s eyes & having real conversations with posting on Facebook about how great our life is, how blessed we are, and how wonderful it is to be alive.
What a bunch of bull****.
We like to tell ourselves that social media “helps us keep in touch”.
But the flipside is, it also allows people to portray a completely inaccurate and false picture of who they are, and what their life is really like.
And then everyone else sees everyone else is so happy and joyous, and they feel like they’re a failure.
So it becomes a competition of “my life is so much more blessed and better than yours”.
I believe that social media is the single biggest reason that people feel MORE disconnected from other human beings than ever in our history.
Don’t agree with me?
Here’s what a recent Time Magazine poll revealed about social media:
> 60% of Time poll respondents say that they feel worse after using social media.
This is likely because we look at how shiny and happy other people are, and wonder “what’s wrong with me?”
> 76% believe others make themselves appear happier, more attractive and more successful than they really are
Does anyone not feel this way? My personal belief is that the more you emphasize how blessed and happy you are on Facebook, the more depressed you really are in reality.
> Since 2004 the number of Americans who consider themselves ‘optimistic’ has dropped from 74% to 50%
Kind of ironic that Facebook started in 2004, no? I’m not saying it’s all Facebook’s fault (just a lot of it)
> 20% of people suffer a mood disorder in their life, 30% an anxiety disorder. And 25% of women and 5% of men are taking anti-depressants.
WTF? 1/4 of ALL women are on anti-depressants (most of which have been invented in the last decade or two). And there are likely a lot more men, they’re just too manly to admit it.
It’s all rather depressing, isn’t it? I apologize for contributing to these statistics with all this negative thinking.
Actually, no I don’t.
Because if we don’t talk about this stuff, nothing will ever change.
It will just get worse. And the pharmaceuticals and others will get even richer.
So what do you do about it?
Now that I’ve outlined a bit of the challenge we have as a human race, I believe there are things you can do to start healing this addiction to more.
I don’t want to make this article into a book, so I’ll be brief with some of the steps I took — and if you’re interested in hearing more about this, leave a comment via this link: The Myth of More and let me know.
For the past several months, I’ve been experimenting with several different tweaks to my life, and the results have been pretty encouraging.
Here are some of the things I’ve done which I’ve found powerful – and I’d encourage you to think about doing the same.
1. Take Your Watch Off
Several months ago, after being a dedicated wearer of a watch for decades, it occurred to me that if I removed my watch, I’d feel less pressured. It was kind of an odd thought at the time, because I couldn’t imagine my life without a watch.
What really drove me to do it was that I decided I wanted to start tracking my physical activity and sleep patterns. (for anyone interested I now wear a Jawbone UP 24 hours a day).
And it wasn’t practical to wear an activity tracker and a watch at the same time. I don’t need more jewelry than Mr. T. So the watch went onto my closet shelf.
At the beginning it was tough, because I had never realized how addicted to “the time” I had really become. But within a couple of days, suddenly I wasn’t constantly looking at my wrist, wondering what time it was.
And I can tell you, my level of anxiety and stress literally dropped – simply because I removed the watch. I spent less time thinking about the future – the next hour, later today, etc. I found myself spending more time in the moment.
I still had my iPhone with me, so I could check the time when I needed to. But I would say I check the time each day about 90% less than I used to.
Sounds silly, but it’s been liberating.
What’s also interesting is that I shared this little nugget of “de-stressing” with my personal mastermind group — and as I did that, I looked around and realized that 6 out of the 8 people at the table did not have a watch on. These are multi-million dollar business owners, very successful people. That’s when I realized my idea wasn’t so crazy after all.
2. Start deleting people from your Facebook list!!
A few months ago, I had about 4,450 people on my Facebook friends list.
Most people are trying to get MORE friends – mostly because they think it makes them look more successful and “connected”.
What I realized was that I had never met more than 90% of the people on my friend list, and I never would.
I also realized that my newsfeed was jammed up with a bunch of crap from people that I didn’t know, and never would.
I started deleting Facebook friends.
Going from over 4,450, my list is now somewhere around 1,700. And shrinking.
At first it was hard because I felt “bad” I was unfriending people.
And then the absurdity of that actually hit me. Why do I feel bad that I am disconnecting from someone I’ve never communicated with, and that I don’t share much (if anything) in common?
My goal now is to get below 1,000 people on my Facebook friends list (and I now decline about 97% of the requests I get. Nothing personal. Actually, that IS the reason – I have no personal connection or relationship with them.)
And one of the side benefits of doing this is now I see a LOT less stuff in my newsfeed, but what I DO see is from people I know, love and respect!
So I can now engage more with the people that have meaning and connection to me, allowing me to deepen those connections.
The only person who cares how many Facebook friends you have .. is YOU.
So stop it. Cut it out. Start trimming your Facebook list. It’s very empowering.
3. Stop adding, start replacing.
I’ll bet that in your closet, there are about 20% of the clothes that you’ve worn in the past 12 months.
80% of your clothes, you haven’t worn in at least a year (and likely even longer).
That’s because what most people do is keep buying clothes they think are going to look great. And when standing in a well lit changeroom at a hip store with cool music pumping .. somehow you feel cooler and think you look better.
Then you get home and wonder, “what was I thinking when I bought this?”
Commit that from now on, any time you buy any consumer item – clothing, clothes, furniture, toys for your kid, etc. – you will remove one item from your life for every new item you intend to buy.
Stop building the inventory of crap.
Even that’s a big step for some people, because they hate getting rid of anything.
But that crap is occupying time and money. It takes up psychic space in your life.
If you REALLY want to do this properly, go into your closet and apply Pareto’s Principle.
Keep that 20% of the clothes you actually wear, and GET RID OF the other 80%.
You’re not wearing them anyway! You won’t miss them.
I know – this probably made your heart drop, thinking about getting rid of most of your clothes.
But if you took them into consignment, or donated them, you’d create massive space in your life.
And whether you like it or not, keeping all this extra crap is taking a toll on you.
Think about this: if you’re finding it difficult to let go of clothes you haven’t worn for years, what does that say about your addiction to stuff and more?
For me, this is an ongoing journey. I’ve culled a lot of my closet, but still have more to do.
But I can’t explain the satisfaction and joy that comes from looking at your closet and seeing this big swath of empty space there.
Being able to actually move your clothing on the hanger across and see each one without taking it off the hook, because they’re not jammed in like sardines.
Ay carumba. The “word counter” on this article is now over 2,000 words. So I gotta end this.
I hope you found some of these thoughts powerful, and even motivating enough for you to act on some of them.
I’m doing a TEDx talk on the subject of “The Myth Of More” so this stuff has been rolling around in my head for months.
I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts about what I’ve said — whether you agree or disagree, please leave a comment via this link!: The Myth of More
Let I Am Empowered Online know your thoughts too.