Let us clarify in the first sentence of our blog: it is not inherently problematic to freely choose to aspire for "more" of certain objects, outcomes, and events. On the other hand, immoderation, compulsion, and addiction are highly likely to lead to trouble. As clinical psychologists, we have seen the wreckage in the wake of an inflexible pursuit of "more." Rigidly chasing "more" can lead to missing out on enjoying what is already sufficient. Greedily amassing "more" can lead to the decay of what is already abundant.

In this blog, we plan to highlight and even spotlight the insidious and addictive problems related to rigidly pursuing and greedily amassing "more." We will also aim to offer antidotes and prophylactics.
In pursuit of happiness, people are often taught to believe that more is better. But that approach has diminishing returns. When more isn't enough, the effects can be "too much."

Human behavior can only be considered "too much" after considering the context and consequences of the action. Drinking alcohol, eating, and having plastic surgery are not necessarily problematic. Neither is working overtime, watching porn, having sex, or getting tattoos (although we don't recommend doing them all at the same time). However, a drawback can arise when these behaviors are excessive and lead to harmful consequences.

Insatiable desires are like an "itch" you cannot help yourself from scratching. We attempt to stop the irritation because we are inclined to soothe whatever ails us physically and mentally. However, as we know all too well, the more you scratch an itch, the more it becomes inflamed, and this starts the vicious cycle spinning. Similarly, when we attempt to rid ourselves of psychological tension by drinking more alcohol, eating more food, or having more plastic surgery, we discover it leads to further psychological tension to be "soothed" by further overindulgence. And the vicious cycle spins out of control.

The challenge: to explore ways to simply be willing to have the "itch"... to notice it...without responding to it. And instead of scratching it, thereby inflaming it, commit to doing all the other life-affirming actions we find worthwhile in the face of that urge. When struggling with rigid greed, be willing to simply notice the impulse to get "more," and instead, commit to doing all the vital actions you find meaningful and valuable. You might find that collecting, ingesting, conquering, and amassing, is not soothing your itch... it's irritating it. As is often said, admitting to the problem is a first step. Our aim is to guide scratchers how to take the next steps.

Experiential Exercise: Recall all the unsuccessful events which have occurred in your life as a result of your pursuit for "more." See in your mind's eye each incident and struggle with rigid greed that left you feeling empty. Allow yourself to experience the guilt, shame, and regret in an open and honest way.

Now, revisit times where you simply noticed the impulse to get "more" and instead, committed to acting in the services of your values. Re-experience the comfort, liberation, and joy when willpower prevails.

Finally, visualize yourself persevering in vital actions in future situations. Picture yourself successfully committing to vital actions that you find meaningful and valuable.

About the Authors

D.J. Moran

D.J. Moran, Ph.D., is a psychologist with expertise in compulsive behaviors.

Jennifer L. Patterson

Jennifer Patterson is a psychologist with expertise in compulsive behaviors.

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