The Myth of More
Arriving at Lake Tahoe for dinner with a client the other evening, our carload of six descended into Incline Village, an affluent community on the north shore of the famous lake. To get to Lone Eagle Grille for dinner, we turned right at the gas station boasting fuel for $6.69/gallon. We immediately changed the name of Incline Village to “Income Village”. One would need a healthy one of those (incomes) to live there.
My middle seat neighbor on my flight back from the PIE show had an expression I had never heard before: “The Myth of More.” Despite popular opinion, more of anything doesn’t necessarily bring you happiness. In fact, happiness has an inverse relationship with More.
We used to say that our son Jonathan was going to be a wealthy man. He uniquely slept with one eye open, no joke. He would be sound asleep, and I’d ask him a question thinking he was still awake. Then I’d notice his other eye closed and a blank stare in the open one. It’s believed that a rich man sleeps with one eye open to keep an eye on his More.
One of the biggest causes of divorce is the stress of money. Too little money can go both ways. It can leverage two people against one another in a game of rear-view mirror “I told you so’s.” Ironically, it can also sometimes draw a couple together as they learn to abandon their wants and desires and refocus on what is actually needed and important.
Too much money, The Myth of More, can be very harmful to a relationship. It can build false idolatry of one person, as if they are more valuable than their spouse because they bring in the money. It can launch a person into extravagances that they are not mature enough or prepared enough to handle in concert with making good decisions.
There is nothing wrong with being successful and becoming wealthy in your finances. What is wrong is when the love of More replaces the purpose of your life, to Love One Another and to Do Unto Others as You Would Have Done Unto You. Rarely does wealth and the lustfulness of wanting more end up supporting the basic purposes of human life.
One day I was on a business trip in Philly and I was well off the beaten path driving in a section of town populated with old three-story brownstones connected to each other. Across the street was St. Something Catholic Church and at the end of the block was Kelly’s Neighborhood Bar.
I pictured Vince Papale and the movie “Invincible.” I think those people are happy. Many of the people I saw walking in that community are not motivated to earn more, instead, they are motivated to see their kid run the 400 at the next track meet or to see him go deep down the middle for a touchdown on Friday nights sitting with their friends and neighbors.
Maybe most important is to see their daughter make the cheer squad. There is deep pride in communities like those. Good, wholesome pride. No one asks or cares what you do for a living, they first ask about your family. That same story plays out all over the United States. The only thing covered in the media is the Myth of More.
There’s a story about a shepherd who was caring for his 100 sheep. Upon counting the heads to see that all were accounted for, he counted only 99 head. Valuing each and every one, he risked it all to go in search on the one he lost. His focus wasn’t on building his herd in numbers, it was in caring and protecting exactly what he had and being content in it.
There are two kinds of risks. The first is risking everything you have because you aren’t satisfied with what you have and you need more to make you happy, or at least that’s what you are led to believe by The Myth of More. The other kind of risk is risking everything you have because you want to protect and develop and enrich what you already have. You need to take a risk to protect not losing what is justifiably important and right.
There is a huge difference between the two.
Learning to be content in little, brings you a great wealth of happiness and satisfaction. Only being content in More, is akin to a first-round exit in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It can only lead to disappointment, envy, jealousy, and discontent. All of those feelings are thieves of joy and deadly to relationships.
Let’s see through this Myth of More and embrace on the journey of appreciating what we have today. Tomorrow is always a day away; let’s just take care of and be satisfied with today.