We grow up in this society where we learn to strive for the best in ourselves. We go to school, try to get the highest degree we’re able to achieve and then start looking for a job. With some luck, we’ll find one and receive an income, yet we soon discover that there’s more to accomplish in our working life. So we follow courses and workshops, step up the career ladder, start earning more, buy more beautiful stuff, go on expensive holidays. It’s a good feeling that we can build a proper life for ourselves. All around us, in the media and among our friends, we get a glimpse of what we can further achieve.
When everyone around you strives for more prosperity, you have to be a strong person to not do the same. New gadgets are on offer continually that promise us an even more enjoyable life. This results in a gnawing restlessness in the back of our minds: “Maybe this is also something for me? Should I buy this?”
Where is the limit when it comes to material possessions? When do we decide what we have achieved is good enough for us?
It’s a very subjective emotion, this feeling of “good enough”. For some it’s a small house with a garden in a nice street, for others it’s a villa with a sports car in front. Everyone must, of course, decide for themselves what they want to achieve during their existence, at any level. As long as people see opportunities to get ahead in life, they will most likely use them. There’s nothing wrong with striving for a higher standard of living, but how do we eventually learn to be satisfied with what we have? And when will that moment actually arrive?
It might be wise to alternate periods of material growth with periods of rest and/or contemplation. The words “striving for” seem linked to a future-oriented look; if we stand still from time to time, we’re able to return to the here and now and start enjoying what has been achieved. This way, we can look back from a new plateau and see what we think of our current status. And ask ourselves if there’s a balance in the different parts of our life. Are we satisfied with what we have? This also depends on the expectations we have of our lives.
In my opinion, there is no straight answer to the question in the title. Everyone will have to decide what he/she aspires materially, and what the underlying motivation is. It all starts with awareness. And with the realisation that there will always be something left to be desired. This doesn’t have to be a problem, as long as we don’t act on it all the time.
Franklin Heilbron, blogger and spiritual life coach, lives and coaches in Amsterdam (The Netherlands). He loves life, loves people, hugely enjoys intelligent conversations, and can be deeply moved by beautiful sounds and images.