Do you remember when you were a child how money had a lot more value? Having one single dollar in your hand made you feel like you had incredible spending power.
Depending on when you were born, one dollar could buy a lot of candy, a comic book, or a few games at the video arcade. For me as a child of the eighties, it was enough to buy a snack at the school canteen.
But, even though my mother would give me a dollar to spend every day at school, very often I would decide to save it. For whatever reason, the idea of delaying the gratification so that I could spend it later really appealed to me.
Maybe I was just a weird kid, but I liked the idea that keeping the dollar gave me a lot of future potential.
The reason I’m sharing this is because I think it has a link to the way we live today.
In the modern world, we live in a time of excess. Everyone one of us is surrounded by limitless information and entertainment. We all feel overwhelmed by just choosing what to do, what to watch and what to listen to.
In the past 10 years, we have seen the rise of binge culture, where we’ll watch an entire season of a TV show in a few days. We’ll download every single album by our favorite artist.
But do we really enjoy it as much? Do we get the same joy out of watching endless youtube videos than we did watching one episode of our favorite cartoon as a child?
This is really fascinating to me, because it seems that there’s an unspoken rule in society that ‘more is better’. That if you can attain millions of dollars, have an ocean of followers online, and experience everything, then you have lived a full life. But is it really true?
You can only eat one meal at a time. You can only sleep in one bed, or wear one set of clothes at a time.
So why do we always think that more is better?
I’ve realized that I value talking with one person more than meeting fifty people. I enjoy hearing one of my favorite songs, rather than listening to every song in that artist’s repertoire. I find just one episode of a TV show much more engaging than watching ten in a row.
Sometimes the anticipation is better than the reality. In fact, it has been shown through neuroscience that the peak of our pleasure happens a few moments before we experience something we’re looking forward to.
I often think back to that feeling I had as young boy, holding that dollar in my hand, and the feeling of anticipation it created. I didn’t need one hundred dollars, or a million dollars. All I needed to feel happy was just one.
Our modern lives today are full of excess, but maybe the true value is found in singular moments, singular conversations, singular experiences.
In those moments when we feel excited and grateful, it’s important to remember that ‘just one’ of anything is really all we need.