We live in a society where Australians have been told that more is better. We live in a society where the mantra that most Australians live by is “Time equals money and money equals happiness.” This consumeristic picture blares out at us from the multimedia that has saturated our society. We are told to buy, buy, buy and that money makes the world go around. Sometimes I wonder if economies of scale, profit and loss, balance sheets and the floating Australian dollar is really what life is all about. Is there more to life? Is less really more in the long run?
Let me demonstrate. Just a few years ago our government told us to go out and buy. We were even given a cash hand out as part of this stimulus package to go and buy our flat screen TVs and other technological gadgets in order to make more jobs. We were told that we were literally saving the country by spending our money. Last Tuesday reality kicked in as we were told that it was time to give back to the government. We now have more debt, more taxes and austerity measures to get our country back into the black. We have been told to pull our belts in and do more whilst receiving less.
The consumeristic lie that we have been fed by our society means that Australians really have less. We have less time for our marriages, families and our leisure. In fact, the average Australian father spends only 6 minutes each week with his children, half of our marriages end up in divorce, our health is suffering, even children are being diagnosed with diseases such as heart disease and diabetes that were once seen only in older adults.
In today’s society we are presented with a world that is full of sickness, disease and hate. We as people are more connected than ever with information at our very fingertips. We now have the ability to communicate with a person on the other side of the world instantly. With all of this happening in our world, the question we must ask ourselves is whether more is less and if more is less, less must be more!
As individuals, we have our own set of challenges that must be faced each and every day. At the end of a long day we stop and when we look back on the day, we have not accomplished anything and it was a fools conquest to attempt to achieve anything with the continual barrage of information that our brains attempt to process. Now how can we reduce the amount of information that our brains have to process? On a computer you open the task manager, find the tasks that are using the most processing power and you end them. Perhaps in our day to day lives ending the little tasks that are taking up the most time is necessary in order to allow us to complete more tasks in a shorter period of time.
What if less of everything really means more? What if we don’t need all the stuff that w have built McMansions for? What if we don’t really have to work in a constant cycle of drudgery all our working life? What if we took more time for our marriages? More time for our families and more time for our hobbies? Maybe less is really more when it comes to satisfaction, quality of life and what really counts?
No one on their deathbed has ever said, “I wish that I spent more time at work’, or ‘I wish that I had more stuff. ” They always say that they wish they had spent less time at work and more time with the people and relationships that really matter.
When we take this idea and apply it, evidence shows that with less stimuli affecting the brain, the brain has more resources to apply to other tasks that we normally shirk. For example, spending time with the family after work, which many find too exhausting or taking the time to reward oneself after achievements. Many find that by reducing their apparent workload they find themselves being more connected overall.
Studies show that with less stuff, less stress occurs. With less stress, more time is available and more time means that connection to others is possible. Having a connection to others is one of the most important things in life and this is possible when we take out the societal junk that is cluttering up our lives.
When it comes to what really makes us happy, it is when we have less. Studies prove that service to others really does matter. Not only does it make a difference to those to whom the service is rendered, but it also leaves us feeling satisfied, happy and contributes to a feeling of overall worth
Bill Gates and his wife Melinda in many interviews have expressed how grateful they are for the privilege of having money and they believe that it is important to give back to community abroad. They say, “Our families believed that if life happens to bless you, you should use those gifts as well and as wisely as you can.” It is with that philosophy that Bill and Melinda set up the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with which they have pledged to give 95% of their wealth to the cause of changing health and poverty prospects across the world. However by using philanthropy to lessen their wealth, Bill and Melinda have said that they have already been blessed in that they have found a much deeper sense of connection both with their family and with others. Through their commitment they have encouraged others to give and have less. However, this outpouring of money to a worthy cause is not just for nothing. By lessening their wealth by 95%, they are changing the outlook of people around the world for the better. Polio is being eradicated, HIV and AIDS are being prevented and there is work to destabilise diseases such as malaria the world over. Equal education is being brought about and entire communities the world over are being changed from the bottom up. This all because of two people who are editing their lives so that they have less in order to create so much more.
When we look at the human brain we see evidence that supports the idea that less stimuli is better for the brain, especially when you combine that with the added benefit of health improvements and the formation of communities due to people being available for meaningful connection.
So if taking the time to give, to cut out the nonsense in our lives and to spend more time with the people that matter, less definitely becomes more.