We Are Far Too Easily Pleased

We live lives that are too easily pleased. Too often, we rely on possessions and money to satisfy our heart’s desire. We rely on selfish pursuits. And routinely fall into the lie that the secret to a fulfilled life is the possession of more belongings and the achievement of personal gain.

But while we are settling for the temporal pleasure of material possessions, is it possible we are missing out on something better? Is it possible we are missing things that would bring even greater satisfaction and more lasting pleasure to our lives? Could it be that we were designed for something greater than material acquisitions? And we are acting foolishly by settling for something far less than the very best?

C. S. Lewis said it like this, “Our desires are not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

Since becoming minimalist and shifting my life’s focus away from possessions, I have begun to notice how much of my life was wasted chasing empty pursuits. If I wasn’t working to earn the money to buy more things, I was researching my next purchase, reading advertisements, shopping at the store, or managing the possessions already in my home. I now consider all of it time wasted that I can never get back. Time I could have spent chasing things of lasting value.

My life was lived too haphazardly. I became so involved in the day-to-day meanderings of life I was no longer able to visualize anything different. My values and pursuits were being dictated by the voices around me… not the voices within. But I have learned there is something of far greater value to be found by those who will withdraw intentionally long enough to listen.

My life was lived too selfishly. I worried about my career, my house, my paycheck, my appearances, and my glory. Little concern was offered towards the plight of others. I was too busy loving myself to love anyone else. But the size of our universe shrinks significantly when we place ourselves at the center. Instead, when we begin to love others and care for their interests rather than just our own, we begin to see our potential for joy increase dramatically.

My life was lived too focused on the wrong things. I sought to collect and compare things that can easily be measured. But there are invisible things in this universe that will bring far greater joy and satisfaction to our lives than the trinkets on sale at your local department store. Albert Einstein once said, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” I have come to discover the lasting fulfillment that can be found in hope, peace, faith, love… just to name a few. And I have come to realize there is a greater joy available to those who learn to fully appreciate the value of each.

Some of the most fulfilling moments in my life have been times when the world’s system has been flipped upside-down. Seek intentional opportunities to evaluate and review the trajectory of your life. Rather than always rushing to get on top, to acquire more, or to impress others, take time to help someone else. And rather than looking at a person through the lens of worldly success, look into their heart instead – you may be surprised what you discover. It’s time to seek more. And time to realize there are greater things available to us than simply acquiring and managing a storehouse of shiny things.

Today, I wish you the very best.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. Terry says

    Thank you, especially for the advice in the last paragraph (“look into the heart”). It’s something I need to be reminded of.

  2. says

    Loved, loved this post – I got into work today – after a horrific tryst with Toronto morning traffic, and I was wondering what I am doing this all for. Why am I struggling with traffic every morning? To what end? Reading this post reminded me why I am struggling – so that I can save up enough to pay off my debt, leave on that 1 year trip to South America, and devote my life to yoga and travel and food. My three loves! :)

      • says

        I finally have a ETA for my debt removal! I am so excited I can barely sit down still. On March 15, 2013, I will be debt-free. Of course, this brings up questions of what will I strive for after the debt is paid down? I mean, what will I do? I have been focused on this goal of mine for so long – it seems like I will have nothing to strive for. I have to find another focus point – which is what I am working on right now. Thanks for the inspiration through your blog!

    • tbone says

      Instead of devoting your life to yoga, travel and food which will all perish one day and never offer true fulfillment, why not devote your life to helping others? Much more satisfying.

      • Eva says

        tbone, that seems a bit harsh. Yes you are right in that helping others may also be satisfying but we are all individuals and what is satisfying to one may not be to another. Personally I think its great what Brown is wanting to do, if those are the things that she loves and make her happy.

        • says

          Your 3 loves, yoga travel & food I see as tools to help others. Especially if done with good intentions & an open heart. Everyone you touch will be helped. Teaching others to be healthy happy & mindfull can be done through yoga, travel & food. Wishing you many blessings on your journey Brown Vagabonder.

      • says

        Thanks tbone for your comment – I totally agree my three loves might seem trivial at first glance – but they make me happy and they bring joy to my heart. We cannot help another until we help ourselves. If we are not happy ourselves, how are we supposed to help someone else? That is what I am working with right now – to ensure I am in the right place and frame of mind to help others.

    • Katie says

      Your so right, I was the same way when I lived on the east coast, I would commute an hour to work and an hour to an hour and half back….getting laid off from the big paying job opened my eyes….I moved to the mid west, live on the same street I work on…NO COMMUTE and got rid of the car…I now bus to work, rent a car when I want to go on day trips or weekends away and life is so less compicated, its worry free.

  3. says

    You know, I think I’m travelling along quite well on this path towards simpler living when I’m hit right between the eyes with a post like this.

    A real reality check for me.

    Yes, I’m letting go of the superficial in terms of stuff and people’s expectations of that stuff. But am I opening my heart to the world by letting go of the superficial in terms of my judgements of others? My perspective on the world? My desire to help people? My tendency to put me and mine at the centre of everything?

    Sometimes, yes. But, man, I needed this reminder…

    As always, thank you.

    • says

      You’re welcome Brooke. Thanks for your honesty. I don’t think any of us ever fully arrive in this areas. But we keep striving. And find more joy because of it.

  4. says

    Our family is shifting our gift-giving away from things and toward experiences that can be shared: a concert, a meal, a vacation.

    • says

      You’re right. I didn’t make any mention of C.S. Lewis’ stated object of affection… Jesus. Because I think the quote still holds value and truth regardless of specific religious beliefs. But thanks for clarifying Lewis’ original purpose for us.

      • Becky says

        Thank you, Joshua. I think your site is great and I appreciate your wisdom. I feel like I am as far from minimalist as I can get in most ways, however, I am working on complete reliance on Jesus (the ultimate minimalism!)

  5. says

    It’s true about the possessions and looking up and researching new ones, and then having to manage the ones we arleady have. It’s exhausting. And doesn’t really do anything for us in the end.

    I think we’re too easily pleased when it comes to yoru post, but I think we’re also not pleased as easily as we shoudl be when it comes to accepting and caring for and loving what is right here in front of us. Air in our lungs, family, food, love… we’re not easily pleased enough regarding those things. We never think it’s enough or we take it all for granted. A sunrise, clouds in the sky, etc.

  6. says

    It takes time alone with yourself to find out what you really want and need and most of us are far too afraid to go their. It is much easier to buffer I desires with objects… thats for reminding me not to settle for the superficial.

  7. says

    Thank you.

    I second Brooke’s comment above–I feel like I’ve been progressing well along my journey of simplicity–but then realize that my focus has still been all about the “stuff”. Letting go to make room for what I know is bigger, yes–but isn’t that the focus all along? I also realised that I spend quite a bit of time thinking about things like how I can increase my retirement savings–when so many of the world’s population live on less than a dollar a day.

    The bigger question is How can I help? What can I do?

    Thank you for the reminder.

  8. Robbie says

    Your words ring in like a breath of fresh air. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and helping to improve our lives… jointly we’ll succeed!
    Nothing wrong with mud pies. A child feels like he is in Heaven while making them; it’s that we’re trying to look at it from our own colored glasses and think there’s something better. I get Lewis’ point though.

  9. says

    Beautifully written and so true. When we spend our lives chasing after possessions, we end up exhausted after all the time spent researching, purchasing, and maintaining. Seeking after stuff leaves us in a vicious cycle, as we receive that little rush of excitement with our shiny new object. But then, that empty feeling returns, and we begin the cycle again, thinking this time we will be truly satisfied.

  10. says

    Absolutely beautiful Joshua! Pitch perfect in every way… It is amazing how much I know this message to be true yet I need to hear it time and time again. And every time it is like I have heard it the first time and it resonates with me always. Strange how this is.

    Your blog was one of the first I read several years ago and it made a real difference in my life. I found this post in my RSS reader today and I am reminded why I bookmarked it years ago.

    I will echo some of the comments above and say thank you.


  11. says

    Well said Joshua, I couldn’t agree more. I have the privilege of living the life you describe. The combination of being free of the desire to acquire coupled with helping others both through my blog and in my community is very satisfying indeed. I highly recommend it to others.

  12. says

    This is definitely one of my favorite Lewis quotes. It’s one of the rare ideas that perhaps gets truer as time goes goes on.

    As I read your thoughts, I realized I have been living somewhat of a minimalist lifestyle without even knowing it. My wife and I purge closets and belongings regularly. We prefer everything we own to have more than one use.

    It made me wonder what would be the hardest thing to give up in pursuit of a simpler life. I’m not sure what my answer is. What was the hardest for you?

  13. Margaret Bolchoz says

    In 2012 a friend told me about a book she read, “The 100 Thing Challenge” I read the book and over the year I have been reading your blog. I have decided that in 2013 I am going to pursue being a minimalist. I am looking forward to the journey in this new year. Thanks Josh.

  14. Rita says

    I came across this blog and loved it! I do have to admit that sometimes as a parent I sway away from these values. I don’t want to teach my kids to be competitive and win all the times, money is not a goal for living..but it’s difficult especially in the society we live that values money, and winning is so important…

  15. Rebecca says

    So if you decide to stop chasing the job to become minimalist, what then?

    What are you doing now with all the time you are saving?

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