What Do We Really Want More Of?

October 30, 2013

Martha Germann
Founder, Mindful Games Institute LLC

“More mommy, more.”

This was Ben’s mantra after trick or treating at every house this Halloween evening.    Dressed in an elephant costume and holding on to his bucket that was steadily filling up with candy, Ben was experiencing this holiday tradition for the first time in his 4-year-old life.

While visiting Ben’s family from out of town, I was accompanying him and his mom on his tour of the neighborhood.

At first, I thought that Ben’s focus must be on the accumulation of candy.  The reward he got after each knock on the door.  The payoff.

It seems that on our way to adulthood, we pick up that we should keep our “eye on the prize.”   That the point of everything is the paycheck size, the title, whatever the trophy is that indicates we have succeeded.  We hear pep talks that claim we can’t rest until we have reached that pinnacle, setting up the expectation that getting to take a rest may be one of the rewards of our efforts.

So we clamor, claw and battle it out hoping that the prize will bring us not only happiness but relief.  And when it does neither, we start to believe that if we just get more, we will find that fulfillment and satisfaction at last only to find we are in a perpetual race.

As we are walking down the steps of the latest trick-or-treat routine and I hear Ben exclaim again, “more Mommy, more,” I wonder if Ben was already focused on growing his stash.  Would this evolve into a need to grow a bank account no matter the cost, whether it is his health, relationships or integrity?  Was Ben’s behavior evidence that it is just human nature to fight to get the most?

As I was having this thought, Ben’s Mom asks him, “So what are you going to do with all this candy?”

“Oh, give some to you and daddy and the lady who is walking behind me.” I being the lady trailing him and his mother.  He really wasn’t that focused on the candy.

I then realize that when Ben said “more mommy, more” he wasn’t asking for more candy.  He was enjoying and energized by the experience of walking up to a door and knocking, saying “trick or treat” and pretending to spray people with water from his costume’s elephant nose.  He wanted more of the whole experience.  Asking for candy was just the reason given to get to pretend to be an elephant.

What if this was the real purpose of any goal, to give us a good reason to have experiences that we enjoy and energize us?

Would we choose the goals we set or the way we pursue them differently if we looked at it from the same perspective as Ben?

Isn’t finding enjoyment in what we do what we really want more of?

I bet if we chose our goals more for the experiences they bring us and less for just the “pay off,” we would find we sleep better at the end of the day.