by Kyle Beard on Wednesday, July 27th, 2016
We live in a culture that tells us we can have whatever we desire. Children are raised from a young age being told they can be whoever they want to be, work whatever job or profession they desire. The American dream embodies the belief anyone can pull themselves up by the “boot straps” to be successful and rich. All of these messages can be true to an extent. But embedded inside these beliefs lies a harmful idea, one that prevents billions of people from finding happiness. I call it The Trap of More.
The Trap of More represents a simple concept most western cultures have idealized: if a person could have more of a certain thing, they would be happy from that point on. But what is that something? It changes for each person. Money, prestige, fame, security, love, relationship, or time off embody a few things many believe will bring eternal happiness.
The inherent problem lies in the simple idea that more will make me happy. Take an example around money. The premise we tell ourselves is: “If I have just a bit more money, I’d be happy. I wouldn’t have to worry any more about bills and obligations, and I can live the lifestyle I desire.” Let’s play out this simple scenario. When most people make more money, they increase their standard of living. They buy a bigger house, a nicer car, and more luxuries to seemingly improve their life. Then the irony hits. Almost instantly the surplus money becomes a necessity to continue that standard of living. Now with the higher mortgage and car payments, that “extra money” is now allotted for outstanding debt. Any breathing room or freedom from we thought we would get from the extra money is gone. You could take this example and use it for relationships, reputation, fame or any other thing we pursue for happiness.
So what brings happiness? This is a question everyone person needs to ask themselves. Many of my clients wrestle with this idea throughout their recovery journey. The Trap of More is a trap because once we obtain more, it’s never enough. The real questions underneath is this: what is true contentment? How can I be happy with what I have in my life? These questions attack the heart of the matter that no object, person, or feeling always bring contentment. Why? Because contentment is not a thing but a state of mind. It’s a choice each person makes to find happiness with what’s before them. The Trap of More persuades us that happiness is found in the possession of some item or trait. The truth is this, happiness is found in the perspective through which we view life.
My challenge for anyone reading this is simple: how can you find happiness and contentment in your life right now? Not tomorrow, but today. It’s not found in external circumstances, but in the way you choose to view yourself, your relationships, and your life. Happiness lives in small beliefs such as: I have a wonderful life. Everything I need is before me. I choose to make today an excellent day. What’s crazy is that beliefs like these are powerful enough to changes one’s outlook on life. These beliefs can bring us that elusive dream of contentment.