Two prominent yet competing modes of being and why ultimately one is superior to the other.
How to best live one’s life has been the quest for the greatest minds across the generations, but even if you aren’t one of these great minds, you still need a mode of being to live by. Here I present to you two possible examples, “you are enough” and “you are more than you think”, each with its own attitudes and approaches to life, benefits and pitfalls in undertaking them and attracting specific types of people.
“These two modes of being have conflicting elements with both perceiving themselves to being better than and an enemy of the other.”
The gist’s of each mode is reasonably self-explanatory, so, I’ll start by illustrating why there has been, in recent years, a rise in the “you are enough” way of thinking.
No one really likes having their flaws constantly highlighted and paraded around for all to see. Our inadequacies, inefficiencies and imperfections are only too ready at hand to be broadcasted and then reflected back to us, crippling our already fragile, sensitive and self-critical demeanour. We are reminded daily how we are not like LeBron James, Hugh Jackman or Taylor Swift. We are being told that we aren’t good enough and that we need to improve and that you should still go to the gym for several hours after a long, tiring day at work because you need to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger and that you need to be taking night classes to upskill yourself and start your own business et cetera et cetera.
The sheer weight and amount of guilt and shame around not aspiring to be the world’s best in some field could be enough to affect the Earth’s gravitational pull!
In essence this is what I see the rise in this thinking to be in need for…as a coping mechanism to the barrage of negative feelings elicited by such an overwhelming and intense microscope. The current trend of accepting our flaws has become widespread – I mean, we are inherently flawed beings, but I believe this to be a step further than this acknowledgement – as we seek to be more understanding and accepting of our fellow humans.
However, there is a fine line to be carefully trodden here – are you really accepting a flaw or are you trying to justify poor behaviour? Is there such thing as too much positivity? I believe so, but more on that later.
I thought it might be relevant now to bullet point what type of person I believe each style of thinking appeals to:
You are enough
· Non-aspiring people / normal/average life
· Comfort seekers / too much effort types
· Insecure / take offence easily / need external validation
· People who are sick of people pointing out their flaws
· People who blame/take issue with “societal standards”
· Those who (want to) put a ceiling on life
· Those who want to celebrate all – everyone’s a winner type
· Those who want to support others/group orientated
· Emotionally weak/unstable/neurotic
· Emotionally passive or at ease
· Those who just want to live in peace / Eastern philosophical types
· *Believe they understand the nature of being/reality
You are more than you think
· Aspiring people
· Growth seekers
· Choose to learn from mistakes or flaws – Resilient types
· Want more from life, want to improve
· Doesn’t require someone else to validate their life choices/experience
· Build self-confidence, awareness and knowledge
· Believe they are capable of more
· Uplifting people / striving types
· Those who champion and/or reward success, superiority and competition
· More individually orientated
· *Believe they understand the nature of being/reality
It would be a very long discussion explaining my choices for both so I’ll try to be brief and I realise I haven’t painted the greatest picture for group “Enough” in terms of desirability. The Zen/Buddhist/Taoist types have credence to their ways and I do value them. With my natural tendencies and psychological studies, I’ve tended to view the “More” group as better people. Partially because I’ve always found it difficult to celebrate mediocrity, I mean, if you could be more or better, why wouldn’t you be? If you are enough why bother to get better? It’s a ceiling-based mentality. It caps you (unlike the other). Too many people just accept what life gives them as “that’s as good as it’ll be”, I can’t seem to do this. Now, are there negatives in this “More” group? Absolutely! It’s not like one group is full of good people and the other is full of bad people.
“More” group tend to be seen as go-getters, those who move the game forward, have more going for them in life, are more productive, efficient and effective. They are living the high life / walking the higher path (or putting themselves through needless suffering for mostly irrelevant or material gain, depending on your perspective). “Enough” group tend to be seen as more caring, kind and compassionate – welcoming of any and all. They feel as though they are less judgmental, more accepting and less “horrible” than the “More” group.
Both groups can appeal to those who have been dealt a cruel hand in life – You have those who want to lift themselves out of their hole and transcend their suffering (in spite of their life). You have those who don’t have the capacity or capabilities to do so (can everyone lift themselves up by their own bootstraps? I don’t know) or have run out of steam, are emotionally drowning and require help and uplifting or those who just want to wallow in self-pity.
Both groups can be sanctimonious and pretentious and must be aware of this.
Ultimately, I see the “you are enough” movement as limiting and perhaps counterintuitive rather than helpful – I understand that these people may have good intentions and thinking that they are helping struggling people but telling people that they are fine just the way they are is likely to cause more suffering rather than less. It’s possible the way they are is why they are in this mess! I feel there is a tendency to embrace too much positivity and acceptance as a substitute to proper understanding of an individual and their place in society, and this generally leads to people continuing on causing more problems and suffering as this thinking tends to externalise the blame and take away a person’s agency. Also, rather bluntly, things that remain stale tend to die.
So, what to do:
· Aim for perpetual incremental improvements (it’s not about going from zero to hero in a week)
· You want to be optimally challenged
· Life is a continually learning curve
· Know who you are (and who you aren’t)
· Be orientated towards task mastery not performance/outcome
· Ask yourself what do you want from life?
· Ask yourself how could I live better?
· Ask yourself how could I cause less suffering? To myself and others.
Every human life has value, but you are also more than who you are currently. You can be of greater value to yourself and others. Isn’t that something worth aspiring to?
Or you don’t have to change. Stay the way you are (because you are enough, after all).
Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.