Friday, July 16, 2010

The More and Less of it

I do not remember what led to this train of musings, but well, warning you to keep off if you don’t want another dose on the philosophies in life from yet another person!
Well, I have no idea how to start off to an absolutely non-introductory start..

Why do we always want More? Just because Pepsi tells us wisely Yeh Dil Mange More?  The question I pose is, is there a More or a Less?  Isn’t it all relative?

A poor guy who earns just enough to have two square meals a day and lives in a garret wishes that he just had more money to move to a bigger hole. The bigger hole leads to bigger aspirations and so on.  A person commuting on a bicycle may wish for a motorbike, a person on a motorbike for an AC car while the gentleman in the AC car would want a bigger car maybe and his wife next to him is grumpy about why his friend’s wife has More diamonds than she does.  For him, More diamonds is Less money and all the traffic out there makes him wish he could take the Lesser bicycle fleeing both the traffic and the grumpy wife.  Its funny when people are proud of their wealth and others jealous of them for it. Don’t they know there is always someone richer, brainier than them? Even the richest in the world want to get richer in the race to remain the richest. At the end of, don’t we all know it’s a journey to oblivion?

While at school, for a kid, a trip to Juhu beach Rs 5 worth of peanuts and 10 Rs of Bhel and a balloon would be a wonderful holiday. In college heading off to Lonavala-Khandala in an ST bus, yet enjoying the ride on the rickety bus singing songs loudly would be just as much fun. With the first job, even if it doesn’t pay much, a trip to a farther off hillstation or Goa is more fun. Now suppose our lad has further gone ahead in life, nothing short of exotic foreign locales please his family. Why don’t I just pause for a moment and put this grown man where he started on his Juhu beach with Rs 10 worth peanuts(Rs 5 of inflation J), and then on that bus which is still rickety, to Lonavala. Well, ofcourse he ll be miserable and hot and bothered with so many poor people around him and cannot conceive how he enjoyed those moments but the fact remained that he did like so many in that station of life do and that same More is now so very Less.

Go to any Sari shop in Mumbai. The range of prices is mind boggling. I am sure a sari of Rs 500 pleases a our maid at Diwali as much as a sari of Rs 50,000 pleases the so called rich. And this Rs 50,000 may probably be peanuts to our designer label toting celebrities.  It is crazy what people can pay for a brand. I think there is very little value in a Gucci plain black conventional leather purse that sells for Rs 50,000 if I can get the same for Rs 500.  Ah, but the brand has More value you see, even if the cost of material and labour and other overheads are valued at Rs 500.  Take for example, a branded Cross Pen that costs Rs 5000.  Give it to a young executive who knows its value.  He will value it and think its worth a lot.  Give the same Pen to a factory laborer who has no idea about it, as a big prize, and he will curse saying, it is worthless to him.

So, probably, being happy is completely relative to the expectations and desires and Less or More of anything has different connotations for different people. Its not just money which could be the ephemeral factor on road to satisfaction. The value of time is different for an athlete where a microsecond might count , a terminal patient to whom days might be longer than usual, or a parent whose kid is growing up quickly or a commuter who has missed a train. The ugliest of old dolls might have a sentimental value to the richest kid. Being the CEO of a company would be of greatest consequence to one while being in a comfortable less stressful job might make another happier. My point is, the measure of everything is relative. Money, time, ambition, relations, comfort, everything. There is no difference between More or Less the final goal being fulfillment or contentment. It is not to say, we should not desire more. Our aspirations will rise and that is a human trait that has brought us a long way. It is not to say, lets be contented with what we have and not exert ourselves to fulfilling ourselves to our potential. These are thoughts just to say that we need to value more what we have and stop the comparisons of More and Less because there is no difference. What we may perceive of little value to us today, could be a dream and an aspiration to another. 

Disclaimer: I honestly do not know if I can actually follow all these ruminations given the fact that I am a materialistic, self-centered, pleasure loving person caught in the rat race..well who isn’t?  But do not question me or judge me too harshly for indeed, I am afterall another trivial human being.


  1. I am so glad that someone has written on this subject. i have always felt the way you do and if I have not posted anything on this, it is because of lack of motivation. You have all the points to the P! :) and no dear, no one is out to judge anyone else. We are all in the rat race of one kind or another. And to ask for more is but human nature. Only it should not become greed as that can be disastrous. Because while a desire to do better is positive, greed is a negative emotion. :)

  2. Great write up Richa. Please keep it up.
    Realizing something is the first step in practicing it and hence no need of disclaimer.

    As you have rightly pointed out, everything in the world is relative and only "ONE" is PERMANENT.

    As far as 'happiness' is concerned, well, it is a state of mind only. There are stages of "happiness" like - Pleasure, Happiness, Joy and Bliss in increasing degree of feeling of contentment / fulfillment.

    As per Gita, the real ‘happiness’ is ‘within’ everyone and not ‘outside’.
    Great Vedantin Swami Chinmayananda has rightly said “ It is very difficult to find happiness inside. But it is impossible to find it outside”.

    Throughout the Gita, the qualities of a Happy /Jnyani / Karma Yogi / Bhakta / Self Realised / Sthita Pragnya person are given elaborately.

    Your example of the person aspiring more and more reminds me of famous motivation theory of Maslo’s ‘Need Hierarchy’.
    The (material) wants and desires are endless and go on cropping one after another as one swamiji has rightly said “ like tissues from a tissue box wherein the next pops up the moment you pull out one”.

    Look forward to your next similar blog


  3. @Zephyr: Thanks for revisiting. I so agree with you about the greed part of it. But the line between greed and wanting just that enough to be satisfied is very fine too. Because the enough never is enough and that is tantamount to greed and not striving hard enough may not be satisfying either.

  4. Richa this was wonderful! and so true. What I consciously do every once in a while, is count my blessings and decide what parts of my life need nurturing and what parts are OK to ignore temporarily. Everyone I love lives in a different country! and that makes me value time with them more than anything. All my decisions now reflect this, which makes me extremely happy. The rat race can wait. :)

  5. @Sheetal: Thanks for visiting and commenting! Am so glad that you are so conciously out of the rat race! It is certainly good to have priorities and concentrate on whats good in life. Its a shame that people don't value what they have and mope about what they don't and some others do even if its their own family members or friends. May these silly races all end!

  6. nicely penned blog !!:)

    Its human nature to want more
    But what i THINK IS
    Wanting more is great ,knowing how much u need is better
    Luv to read ur blogs
    Keep writing

  7. @Sanyog: Thanks for visiting and commenting!