This is a story about my generation—or maybe just me and some of my friends. We are always searching for more. When we were in high school, we wanted to have more friends, to be cooler, to be cuter, to be more handsome, to be more popular—you name it, and we wanted more of it. When Facebook was first introduced, we wanted more friends and included everyone we came across in real life without discrimination. When we first entered college, we wanted more prestigious awards, more fun, more experiences, and more college experience. We want more from our friends, more contacts, more networking, and more opportunities. In our relationships, we wanted to meet more people and enjoy more. When we first graduated, we wanted more from our jobs, more from our life, and more than we were getting. Wherever we were, in whichever part of our life or the world, we wanted more.
In a constant struggle with myself, I wonder what and when is enough. What standards do we have for contentment? Do we even know what contentment is, or has it become an estranged relative who we vaguely remember? Is society to blame for its trends in excess? Who do we blame for the mass of extra large T-shirts, extra large french fries and Diet Cokes, the wait for some extra money on lotto tickets so we can have some extra cash for luxuries and brand names? Where can we draw the line for contentment? When one reaches their death bed? It has always bothered me—this struggle for the riches, and the desire for more. Not because I was immune to it and looked down upon others, but because I have to constantly battle it out, and because I see many of us are struggling with it.
Contentment is a choice, not a settlement with life. It is an active decision, and not always an easy one. Before making that decision, we need to define the word “need” and what our needs are? I can’t define them for you. I can only do so for myself, and I’ve found that the morning latte was not really a need.
Oftentimes, we forget the difference between needing something and wanting something, which results in an increase in the number of items that we think we need. Let’s take the Internet for example: We need the Internet to be accessible twenty-four hours a day, preferably in the palm of our hands. It is convenient to have that, yes, but it is hardly a need (unless you work is time sensitive). Most likely you don’t need this much access, and if you do get it, then (like me) you waste it on hours of Google searches, Facebook updates, and slowly falling into an abyss of a fantasy Internet world where everything is instant and accessible.
Some of us (again, like me) are aware of what we are doing, yet we do not change. We do not recalculate our needs or analyze our wants, which seems irrational. Any rational being would make the logical decision to cut down on investing in something that is hardly a need and is not valuable.
Trust me, after years, used name brands are no longer valuable, and neither are the hours invested surfing on the Internet. If quality is our aim, then we would consume rationally and we would socialize rationally, as no one would doubt the benefits of physical socializing over virtual socializing. Also, we would invest rationally in items that would generate profit or help develop society, communities, and our future. The desire to want more right now and to want more without limits is sadly enough depriving us from having much in our future. Want proof? Why don’t you just google it? (Yes, that’s an acceptable verb). Despite knowing how to increase the quality of our lives and the benefits of work-life balance, we work endless hours to make more money to get more. The fact that we all know this and still we manage to keep these lifestyles indicate not only irrationality, but also an addiction and a void within our own personal structures that we are constantly trying to fill. So, when is it really enough? I don’t know. If I did, I wouldn’t be writing this article.