When will we ever be satisfied with what we have? When will we believe that what we have right now is enough?
“Even if I fix each and every one of my immediate discomforts, more would show up to take their place. ” – Rb
When will I ever be satisfied with life as it is?
In 1827, people had to work hard to do things we now take for granted. Running hot and cold water from faucets and small private bathrooms simply wasn’t an option for most folk. Today we take those amenities for granted.
I’d imagine that when the ability to heat and store 50 gallons of water became available (via hot water tanks), people thought, “Now this is a way to make life more enjoyable.” They probably had the same thought about radiators, elevators, air conditioners, telephones, electricity, and the discovery of germs and how to kill them.
But we didn’t stop improving at any of those things. In our society, we continue to believe things must be improved. We’ve gone from societies with no plumbing – people defecating in the streets – to living with filtered water, flush toilets, being able to check our email in the bathtub, and still we need improvement.
Is our life any easier as a result of this “progress”?
It doesn’t matter what problems we have, or had – there will always be more things we wish were easier. A more comfortable posture? Joints that don’t ache? Less fat? More money?
Sociologists tell us, “Our society shapes us.” If you grew up in a place where your elders abused you, you’d have a very different outlook than if you grew up feeling nurtured, encouraged, and loved. If you grew up in a society where there was constant war, you’d have a different outlook than if you grew up in a small, peaceful village on an island somewhere. If you grew up in a place where everyone around you didn’t ever seem content, you’d probably act as if you weren’t content either.
Our society molds who we become.
Is society to blame that we aren’t content? I don’t think so because, I like to believe, we are independent agents, able to change things.
I spent my childhood on the small island of Manhattan, the city that never sleeps, and it has taken me along time to learn to relax and sleep well. My “default setting” is that I must always be figuring out ways to improve everything around me. “That woman would be better off if she only blah blah blah.” ” The airport shuttle van ought to blah blah blah.”
When I notice I’m having these thoughts, I’ll tell myself, “Well, there you go again.” (It’s better than telling myself, “You shouldn’t do that.”)
I know I’ll always find things that could be improved. I know that even if I fix each and every one of my immediate discomforts, more would show up to take their place. That’s just how the universe works. I know that without a doubt.
What I need is to do is simply believe that’s the case. And therein, lies a paradox: Is there something I need to improve? Yes. But I must set that need against the notion that things are already perfect exactly as they are.
Be done with it and move on.