“More” is a lure. It’s the tantalizing bait always catching the eye. For me, it’s not so much about stuff as it is about all the things I want to do. There’s just so much great experience to be gained, in so many different flavors. Creative. Athletic. Musical. Social. Natural. Service-oriented. Friendship-based. Family-centered. If each event or activity is like a scoop of ice cream, then sign me up for the triple banana split! Not only is it sure to be yummy, but by opting for ALL of it, I don’t have to go through the painful process of choosing.
Never mind that I really can’t eat a triple banana split. Never mind that even trying is sure to lead to other forms of discomfort.
One of several books I’m reading right now (see, I can’t even limit my reading selection to a single scoop) is The Book of Joy by Douglas Abrams. In it, the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu share their thoughts on how to lead a joyful existence. Unsurprisingly, both mention gratitude for what we have as being a key factor in lasting joy. Recognizing when we have “enough” is the trick here. Abrams writes,
“Yet scientists have found that the more we experience any pleasure, the more we become numb to its effects and take its pleasures for granted. The first bowl of ice cream is sublime, the second bowl tasty, and the third causes indigestion.”
I’ve got life experience to back up Abrams’ metaphor. My first job back in high school was at the local ice cream shop. The owner, bless her, allowed us to liberally sample the products free of charge. I can therefore attest, there is a point where “more” – even just one bite – tips over into “too much.” (Sorry, Lorna – and thank you for this and many more valuable life lessons!)
Sometimes the effect of this indulgence is as temporary as indigestion, but sometimes too much can turn you off of something completely. I rarely eat ice cream to this day – and it’s got to be a pretty special flavor to pique my interest.
For me, the sweet hook of “more” has always been the potential missed opportunity. My brain paints visions of the joy an activity could bring in the nanoseconds it takes to contemplate whether to take my child to visit Eggbert the talking Christmas Egg, or if I should set my alarm to get up early to meditate. The thought of my child smiling with the surprise of holiday magic, or of myself, calm and centered at the start of the day – how could I possibly miss these opportunities to better our lives?