Many experts agree that a huge source of discontent in our modern western world is our tendency toward excess. Somewhere along the way, perhaps during the 1950’s or 1960’s, we decided that moderate amounts any good thing were not enough. Although previous generations had warned us that we could indeed get too much of a good thing, we didn’t believe it. We just had to have more, and it had to be bigger and better.
We began to think like this: If owning one car makes us feel satisfied, then owning two cars will make us even more satisfied. But what we should have discovered by now is that this is just not true. Almost any good thing will quickly reach a point of diminishing returns. Once we get the extra portion that we thought would bring us some fleeting notion of happiness, we almost immediately start craving more of the same and/or something else. You name it -- money, cars, TVs, square feet of living space, vacation homes, leisure time, computers, gadgets, nice clothes, quantities and varieties of food -- most of us have more of it than ever before. Yet very few of us seem to be as happy as were before we had so much.
But not only do we fail to find happiness in owning more, the excess often detracts from our quality of life. Like the old saying goes, the more you have, the more you have to worry about. Think of the things that concern you on a daily basis. While they may include health and family issues, you’ll probably find that a number of them are concerns about things you own.
There are many theories -- some religious, some secular -- about how to find true happiness and contentment. While these theories vary wildly, very few of them include the accumulating of possessions in their formula. Whatever the path you choose, giving up the desire to always have more, along with possibly purging some of the stuff you already have, is likely a good first step.