The disease of more: why striving for the ideal is harmful

Many believe that you need to develop and improve constantly. But life can be overlooked in the pursuit of happiness and the ideal. Find out why this happens and what to do about it. But first, subscribe to our Telegram channel. We often publish such valuable articles!

In the sports environment, there is the concept of “disease of more” (disease of more). Pat Riley first used it as a basketball coach and is one of the ten most outstanding coaches in the US National Basketball Association.

According to Riley, the illness explains why talented teams that achieve championship titles often lose it soon. It’s not about strong opponents. Some dream big, like everyone else, to win the championship. But soon, this becomes insufficient. Players start wanting money, fame, rewards, and favors. The mentality of the team is changing. What used to be a perfect fusion of skills is now a chaotic and disjointed effort.

More doesn’t mean better

In the 1980s, psychologists surveyed to understand what makes people happy. They gave out pagers to a large group of people and asked them to write down after each beep:

  1. How happy do you feel on a scale of 1 to 10?
  2. What event in your life influenced this feeling?

Researchers have collected thousands of such records. The result was unexpected. Almost everyone rated their level of happiness at 7 points. I buy milk in the supermarket — 7. I watch my son play football — 7. I discuss with the sales manager — 7.

Even when some kind of misfortune happened, the level dropped to 2-5 points, and after a while, it returned to 7 again. The same is with joyful events. Winning the lottery, a vacation, getting married — all of this increased the score for a while, but soon the level of happiness still stopped at 7 points. We are not always happy. But also constantly unhappy, too.

Regardless of external circumstances, we are always in a state of moderate, though not entirely satisfactory, happiness. We are almost always fine. But we remember that things can get better.

It always seems that quite a bit is not enough to complete happiness. We think that just a little more, and the level of happiness will rise to ten. Most of us live like that — in the constant pursuit of complete ten-point happiness. As a result, such people spend a lot of effort and still feel dissatisfied. They feel like they are not moving. The pursuit of future perfect happiness gradually devalues ​​their present.

Does that mean you shouldn’t strive for anything? No.

We must be motivated by something else, not just our happiness.

Self-improvement is just a hobby

We all have heard more than once that at the beginning of the year, you need to write down your goals, analyze your desires and aspirations, and then write down each step to achieve them.

But cultivation just for the sake of cultivation does not make any sense. It’s just another advertised hobby — something to occupy yourself with and then enthusiastically discuss with like-minded people.

Just because something can be improved doesn’t mean it needs to be improved. The problem is not the upgrades themselves. What matters is why we want to improve something in ourselves or our lives. When we have no goal other than self-aggrandizement, our whole life becomes self-obsession, a mild and pleasant form of narcissism. In the end, it will only make us unhappy.

Life is not a constant improvement, but a constant exchange

Many perceive life as linear growth and development. In childhood, our knowledge and ideas about the world increase yearly. When we are young, our skills continue to develop.

But when we reach maturity and become professionals in some area, life turns from constant development into the constant exchange.

You have invested much time and effort into acquiring skills in your field. By changing the field of activity, you will not improve as a person but will give up specific opportunities that you could embody. Simply put, if a writer suddenly wants to become a musician, he will trade the opportunity to write a new book for learning to play an instrument.

The same thing happens with athletes after a significant victory. The time they would have spent exercising in the past is now being traded for doing commercials or buying expensive houses. In the end, they lose.


Be careful. Do not strive to develop only for development, do not dream big. Choose new goals. Otherwise, you can lose happiness and success.

Life is not a to-do list to tick off or a mountain to climb. Life is a constant exchange. And you will have to choose what to exchange without deviating from your values. If you are ready to forget about them and get another ten-point mark on the happiness scale, you will most likely be disappointed. Read The technology of happiness: yesterday, today, tomorrow.

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