Quitting While You’re Ahead, or at least Before You’ve had too Much.

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04th March, 2023

Commenting on how he lived to 97, John D. Rockefeller’s doctor said the oil tycoon “gets up from the table while still a little hungry.” It’s another rare skill, and one that applies beyond eating.

The temptation to exploit every drop of opportunity leads many people to push relentlessly for more, more, more. They only discover the limits of what’s possible when they’ve gone too far, when the momentum of decline is often unstoppable.

Businesses that don’t want to hold inventory push so hard for efficient supply chains and just-in-time manufacturing, stripped of all shock absorbers and room for error. Then a pandemic hits, and supply chains crumble.

Young workers eager for promotion push themselves until they’ve hit burnout, when they physically can’t continue in their positions and quit, which often marks the end of compounding their skills and work relationships.

People on social media push relentlessly for more likes and retweets until their audience is sick of them.

In each case there’s value in saying, “I could have more and do more, but this is good enough.”

But it’s such a rare skill. People don’t like leaving opportunities on the table, and it’s counterintuitive to realize that you’ll likely end up with more than those whose appetite for more is insatiable.

Give Up on the Idea that “More Is Better.”

It’s not that having a lot of things is bad, wrong, or harmful in and of itself, only that the desire to have more and more and more is insatiable. As long as you think more is better, you’ll never be satisfied.

As soon as we get something, or achieve something, most of us simply go on to the next thing – immediately.

This squelches our appreciation for life and for our many blessings. I know a man, for example, who bought a beautiful home in a nice area. He was happy until the day after he moved in. Then the thrill was gone. Immediately, he wished he’d bought a bigger, nicer home. His “more is better” thinking wouldn’t allow him to enjoy his new home, even for a day. Sadly, he is not unique. To varying degrees, we’re all like that. It’s gotten to the point that

When the Dalai Lama won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1989, one of the first questions he received from a reporter was “What’s next?”

It seems that whatever we do – buy a home or a car, eat a meal, find a partner, purchase some clothes, even win a prestigious honor, it’s never enough.

The trick in overcoming this insidious tendency is to convince yourself that more isn’t better and that the problem doesn’t lie in what you don’t have, but in the longing for more.

Learning to be satisfied doesn’t mean you can’t, don’t, or shouldn’t ever want more than you have, only that your happiness isn’t contingent on it.

You can learn to be happy with what you have by becoming more present-moment oriented, by not focusing so much on what you want.

As thoughts of what would make your life better enter your mind, gently remind yourself that, even if you got what you think you want, you wouldn’t be one bit more satisfied, because the same mind-set that wants more now would want more then.

Develop a new appreciation for the blessings you already enjoy.

See your life afresh as if for the first time.

As you develop this new awareness, you’ll find that as new possessions or accomplishments enter your life, your level of appreciation will be heightened.

An excellent measure of happiness is the differential between what you have and what you want. You can spend your lifetime wanting more, always chasing happiness – or you can simply decide to consciously want less.

This weekend, be grateful for what you have & stay blessed forever.