The Mindset of More

As I was driving to work this morning I saw an advertisement for new “loaded” hamburgers at Sonic. This really got me thinking. We live in a time of excess. America as a whole has far more than we can ever use. Everyone goes for the bigger hose, the bigger cars, the bigger meals. Nearly every fast food restaurant has some option to “Super Size”. There have even been movies made about this trend. We are quickly becoming (if we haven’t already reached it) one of the fattest nations in the world. This desire to have more, while detrimental to us physically, has dire consequences spiritually and emotionally.
“Have it your way” and “The customer is always right” has become the mantra of the masses in recent history. Notalwaysright.com is chock full of anecdotes of people reinforcing this belief that they are always right. With very humerus results inmost cases. The fact is, getting everything we want whenever we want it is a bad thing. If we’re given everything we want, we tend to not appreciate it as much. We really don’t place as much value on it. What’s worse, we tend to look down on those who provide for us. This taking people for granted is a dangerous state of mind.
My parents did their best to teach me to be responsible and self-reliant. I will always be grateful for that guidance. I remember working at my dad’s newly opened restaurant when I was eight, running around with a bucket busting tables. I hated it back then, but I see the value of it now. Sure, I earned money, but I also gained a real appreciation of others and the work they do. My parents rarely just gave me anything. They had me work for what I got. In a sense, this gave more value to everything I had.
There are many people today that take what they have for granted. One of my favorite internet memes is First World Problems. It’s a poignant reminder that while we think we may have things rough, there are others that are in much more dire straights. We complain about the battery on our iPod dying or having internet connections go down for a few hrs as though these are God-given rights that everyone should enjoy. How often do we have to wonder where our next meal will come from or if we’ll have a roof over our heads at night? For many people–even Americans–these are very real questions. First world problems pale in comparison to the real world problems that millions of people face every day.
On close inspection you learn that the real problem with first world problems is the mindset of entitlement. Entitlement is the feeling that we deserve something, even though in most cases we haven’t earned it. Decades of people getting rewarded for participation and such policies as Affirmative Action have soiled the concept of achievement. People no longer have to work for rewards. The current video game industry is a prime example. There are games that award achievements simply for loading the game. What are we teaching our kids when we give rewards for absolutely zero effort?
This sense of entitlement leads to complacency at home and at work. When we become complacent, anyone can do to use whatever they wish. This is one of the real dangers of the mindset of more. I often hear people complain about the government or their living status or their jobs. My only thought, more often than not, is “If you hate it so much, do something about it”. If we can get past the idea that we are entitled to certain things just because of where we live or who we are, we can overcome any problem that we face. Only then can we truly start to be happy.
To be happy is something that many people list as a desire they have or a goal to reach. But, in my experience, many people just don’t know how to reach it. Is happiness something you can buy? Is it something you can wake up one day and decide to be? I honestly don’t think so. In the Book of Mormon, Nephi (2 Nephi 5:27) says that his people “lived after the manner of happiness”. Now he doesn’t say that they were happy. He said they lived after the manner of happiness. This is an important distinction to make. Happiness, above all, is how we live our lives. Does that mean running around with a goofy grin on your face all the time and being bubbly? Absolutely not! I believe it is a mindset.
The mindset of more is the antithesis of the manner of happiness. The more I study the gospel of Jesus Christ and the closer I grow to my Father in Heaven the more I am convinced that to be happy I need to focus less on me and more on others. Nowhere in the Savior’s life did he ever do a miracle for Himself. Nowhere in the Priesthood is there an ordinance that you can perform on yourself. Every aspect of the gospel, every aspect of the life of Christ, is focused on helping others and losing yourself. …He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. (Matt. 10:39). By losing yourself and casting off the mindset of more, we can find who we truly are and live after the manner of happiness.

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