When it comes to the bad stuff in life, answering the question of “how much is too much” seems pretty simple – “any” is too much! But what about the good stuff? How much is too much of that?
I leave it to you to define “good stuff” for yourself. It may be happiness, success, love, faith, income. There are probably as many good answers as there are people who answer. So, how much is too much of that? Is it possible to have too much of the “good stuff”?
The fact that something is good doesn’t mean that more is necessarily better. To some, that may seem obvious to say, but think about how often we get swept up in the pursuit of more – more success, more love, more money, etc. Now think about how often the pursuit of “more” interrupts your appreciation of what already is. Indeed, expanding your definition of how much you “need” makes it nearly impossible to enjoy what you have.
Remain aware of the seductions presented by all-consuming pursuits.
Another way to know that we’re flirting with too-much-ness is when we imagine that nothing should get in the way of our pursuit – that it’s so important to find and obtain what we seek, that we never take a break from our pursuit. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the value of doggedly pursuing what we feel passionate about in this world, but when that pursuit totally defines us, however noble our goal may be, it is almost certainly too much.
In fact, it’s precisely when we seek something which is clearly good for our life, that we need to be especially careful with this, as these quests can be especially seductive. How many times have I missed important moments going on in my family because I was busy working (to provide them with a good life), meanwhile forgetting that our time together is also a fundamental part of the good stuff?
Just as there’s no one definition of the good stuff, there’s no single determination of “too much.” That said, we’d all do well to remain aware of the seductions presented by all-consuming pursuits, especially when they’re legitimately noble, and try avoiding the common pitfall of assuming that if something’s good, more is automatically better.
Brad Hirschfield is the co-founder and co-executive editor of The Wisdom Daily. A rabbi, Brad has been featured on ABC’s Nightline UpClose, PBS’s Frontline, Fox News and National Public Radio. He wrote a long-standing column, “For God’s Sake,” for the Washington Post, and has also written for The Huffington Post and Beliefnet.com. He authored the book, You Don?t Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism. Brad also serves as President of Clal, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, a leadership training institute, think tank and resource center in New York City.