WHEN MORE IS LESS; and less is a whole lot more

The other day a client casually mentioned she was going back to school for a second PHd. The next day a friend dropped in for tea and to say he felt something missing in his life, despite being highly successful, in a great relationship and having many close friends. He wondered what more he could do, what was left to achieve.

We live in a culture where success is often defined by; how much money you have, how many degrees, awards or accomplishments you’ve racked up, how big your house is and how many things you have. The striving for more becomes the rallying cry of those wanting to be successful. Hollywood actors are often awarded roles because they have the most Twitter followers. Quantity over Quality.

The single mother/father raising great children often go unnoticed and uncelebrated. Those committed to social causes rarely accumulate much of anything, other than incredible experiences. Poets writing to elevate and soothe the soul quietly go about their lives and have few possessions to show for their work.

No wonder anxiety is running rampant in our world. The desire for MORE becomes a compelling hamster wheel, and the question becomes clear. What is motivating all this need for MORE? The ever-elusive promise of happiness keeps most moving. But happiness is always short lived. It’s a feeling and feelings are transitory. They come and they go and the more one tries to hang on to happiness the more fleeting it becomes.

There has been an explosion in the 11 billion dollar industry of self-help books, and courses about cultivating happiness and generating success. The pressure is on to achieve. It’s clear we are looking for answers, wanting greatness, and we are willing to crank up the hamster wheel to achieve more. But at what cost? Family life and health can suffer. Ultimately the happiness we feel with something more flashes by with the speed of an incoming storm.

I am strongly influenced by Lao Tsu and the Tao Te Jing. My early psychotherapy training and internal martial arts training are guiding forces that shape my thinking and way of living. But, it was an adopted street dog that drilled home the concept of LESS is MORE. The MORE I trained my unruly dog, the LESS he listened. That’s when Tao became life. I had to do LESS to get MORE from my dog. Lao Tsu says, “ Stop thinking, and end your problems.” In my latest novel, SCORPION, my characters learn valuable lessons from the Tao.

I am in the industry of personal growth and as a writer I work at honing my craft, but I keep in mind that LESS is MORE. Here are 3 ways to embody the LESSons.

  1. Appreciate what you already have, rather than always searching for more.
  2. Find something of significance in everyday life. Simple joys benefit health. Experience the moment…LESS doing and MORE being.
  3. Cultivate meaning instead of happiness. Consider what you can do to touch the life of another in a positive way.