Aside

To Be Grateful

It seems that no matter where we get in life, we’re always chasing something else, something more. We’re constantly trying to answer the question “What will make me happier?”

The person who has no job wishes to have one.

The person who has a job wishes to have a better title, better status.

The person who has reached the top of the pile might ask themselves if “this is as good as it gets” and starts to wonder about creating more meaning.

The person who does meaningful work might wonder if they can get more balance…

And so on.

We start early in life, wanting more. My son, when he was about three loved those little hot-wheel cars. So much so that everybody — from my mother to neighbors — gave one each time they saw him… Then even getting one hot-wheel car wasn’t enough. He figured out that I was purchasing them in big packs at Costco and then handing them out 1 by 1, and he started to negotiate to get an entire pack at one time. After that, the issue turned to how many did he have in relationship to the other kids. His shoulders would slump if he figured he was less-than some kid by measure of the cars. This construct of being “more-than” someone or “less-than” someone based on what or how much you have isn’t limited to kids. Oh, no … adults are big into this game. It explains McMansion houses and Lamborghini sales, amongst many other things.

Of course, for those with little, we want “enough” to be secure. The person who is homeless wishes they had a couch to sleep on. The person bumming a couch overnighter wishes to have a home and so on. But it seems that once we reach “enough”, we never seem to stop. We pursue the tangible things of cars, money, homes, as if “more” is a better model. We pursue status and authority. We pursue more and more.

Does any of this make us any happier? That’s debatable. Because there is always another toy – or, in my case, bigger successes – and the pursuit becomes rather endless.

Happiness is not about the next thing (emphasis on the next and the thing) but on just everything that is, here and now. My “is” includes the people I work with, the community of Yes & Know, friends and family that provide both support and meaning in my life, and a community who inspires me to push forward. I am grateful for that which is.

America is about to celebrate Thanksgiving, a chance to be grateful for many things and that which is. Happy Thanksgiving, to you and yours.

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3 Responses:

  1. Glen Lubbert. November 24, 2011 at 1:09 am  |  

    Great sentiment on this thanksgiving eve. social media can fuel some of that comparison thinking too. it’s good to be reminded of this often. thank you Nilofer.

    Reply
  2. Elias. November 24, 2011 at 8:24 pm  |  

    Nilofer,

    Thank you for this blog post and the many others that deliver insight and a fresh perspective on what really matters.

    The continual pursuit of “more” and the single-minded comparing of ones’ influence, status and possessions in the end does’t matter at all unless they can be used to make another person’s life better. Those that find themselves in the upper income, influence and management levels or running their own companies find purpose when they take all that influence and help others to live a better life. Your post makes it clear – real meaning is not in the acquiring of more possessions, either material or intangible – it is finding meaning.

    Only by helping others find their freedom can anyone hope to find theirs, and your blog consistently delivers this – sets people free to see the world and their problems from a fresh perspective.

    Thanks for an excellent Thanksgiving post and I look forward to your writing often.

    Elias

    Reply
  3. Chris Oestereich. November 25, 2011 at 5:36 am  |  

    Nilofer,
    Thanks for this wonderful post! Stepping off of the “treadmill of more” is incredibly difficult. We’re pre-programmed for it, and marketers throw everything they’ve got into reinforcing these tendencies. I find that I’m happiest when I’m ignoring the treadmill and instead focusing my efforts on the needs of the many. It’s an ongoing struggle as there’s always a new shiny thing being dangled in front of our noses, but I firmly believe that Maslow got it right when he updated his hierarchy to include Transcendence. Helping others to move through the stages is as noble and enjoyable as it gets. Thanks and have a Happy Thanksgiving!
    -Chris

    Reply

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