In our quest for more we have ignored a rule of nature.
Our industrial, linear mindset and rationalisation of economies of scale have fuelled a desire for size. Growth is the ultimate aim. Bigger, stronger, faster.
These are reasonable aspirations, but we ignore the evidence that you can not be all things. We might like to think that we can be the biggest, strongest, best looking and nicest person, but it is not realistic. It is unnatural. The law of nature that we have ignored, and which is part of life cycles, is that there are practical limits to growth. You can not grow indefinitely.
The mantra for growth that imbues financial pages is not realistic. It was like an epiphany to see the obvious foolishness of chasing growth (those quarterly earnings figures) to the exclusion of all else, when Frank Dixon made the case against growth at Be The Change in 2004:
“If a human keeps growing at the rate it averages over its first 20 years,
it would be 4 metres tall by age 40!”
Obvious, rational, unassailable.
Businesses, like people, have an optimum size. The maximum size of a cooperating group of people seems to be around 150 people because that's the most people with whom one person can sensibly manage relationships. When the “workers” are counted in their thousands you have an enterprise without spirit. Imagine a massive corporation held together only by brand, culture, and legal structure, but where individuals are not allowed to think. And its sheer size must compromise its flexibility, adaptability and internal coherence.
Once you recognise that growth in itself is not a worthy aspiration, you realise how instead it motivates dysfunctional behaviour. This highlights the need to achieve “success without growth”.
But how could success be measured if not by growth? Other measures of success would be needed like triple-bottom-line metrics and quality of life metrics. It was necessary to show that more stuff did not equal more happy.
This is a real bottleneck because we are all looking at our neighbour and wanting their stuff, looking at another company and wanting their success, looking at another country and wanting their riches too, wanting more because we just do! That mentality blinds us to the reality that enough is enough, more than enough is more than enough. If you can stop looking over the fence, imagining that the grass is greener on the other side, you realise that once you have enough stuff, you can get more happy by engaging your intellect and consciousness in more dynamic ways. After all it is in your mind and soul that you are happy. Your bank account has no feelings.
Adapted from a passage in Common Sense.
Check out The Story of Stuff http://storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-stuff/