Living in a time and place where materialism is a competitive and daily fact of life for
–high paying jobs, big houses, fast cars, Ivy league educations, exotic vacations, fashion and jewelry “statements”, elegant restaurants, and lavish parties, –it is philiosophically and practical to ask satisfy or suffice.
If we live our lives to satisfy ourselves–then we tend to a society driven by one word, and one word only–“more!”
Our appetites for material things that satisfy our senses are like a bottomless pit–to see beauty, to feel comfortable, to taste delight, to hear endless praise and envy over what we have achieved and accomplished in life–can these cravings ever really be satisfied?
With satisfaction, one of the key issues is that no matter how much we have accumulated or attained, it irks us to no end, if someone else has just a fraction more. This is called relative deprivation–we have everything we need, but we still feel short-changed because someone else has more. It’s infinitely hard to be satisfied knowing that, because somehow we have failed…someone else is better off materially, and our interpretation often is that they are better innately than us and thus have gone further than we can or maybe deserve more on a spiritual level–either way another’s abundance, regardless of your own successes, can still mean you are a loser!
It’s funny, coming off the Metro and watching the mobs disembark from the train and race up the escalators, even when there are not a lot of people there…first one to the top is the winner; everyone else shlumps off somehow defeated afterward. G-d, this has become a sick society–what difference does the 2.347 seconds make?
Educationally, collecting degrees and certifications has become another hobby for many, so that if you don’t have alphabet soup before and after your name, your frowned upon as just another ignoramus out there–as if the degree makes the person.
Another example, yesterday I heard that when getting engaged/married, the chic is that it is no longer enough to give a diamond ring to the young lady, now a matching bracelet is also part of the grand bargain or else you are not “keeping up with the Jones.”
The examples go on and we can all tell them from our specific lives of the endless rat races that we endure to try and not only make ends meet, but also to compete and avoid “the shame.”
So what’s the alternative?
Instead of trying to be satisfied, we can learn to suffice–to be happy with what we are blessed with. That doesn’t mean that you don’t try to do your best in life, you do! But rather, you work hard and invest a reasonable amount of time, effort, money to achieve a goal and then you go on without beating yourself up over what you haven’t achieved.
In short, happiness is in saying enough (or like on Passover, Dayenu!).
To suffice, part of it is learning to differentiate between what is really important and what is, in the end, trivial. How important is it that you get the NEXT whatever in your life versus can you be more innately happy spending time doing things you enjoy with the people you really love.
Suffice–learn to balance the demands and needs of your life–grow beyond the mundane; the true test of life is with you yourself–achieving your potential–not how you do relative to others.
An article in Wired (November 2011) talks to this when it asks about going out and finding a soulmate, “Do you keep searching and hope something better will come along, or do you stop searching when you find something looks pretty good?”
This article, whether addressing the many commitment phoebes out there, or those just having a hard time finding Mr./Mrs. Right–whether in terms of accepting and living with others’ flaws or just learning to stop looking for someone prettier, smarter, more successful etc.
Wired suggests developing a baseline by dating “roughly” 12 people so that you can make an informed decision of the head and heart, but this can apply to education, career, home and all areas of your life–seek what is best for you, but also realize that we are all imperfect mortals and that only the heaven is for angels.
Suffice–do your very best in life and accept yourself for who you are and meet your destiny head-on–you can achieve happiness beyond the mere materialism and superficiality that cloud our societal judgements–this to me is enlightenment.