Read in the Newspaper: MetroWest Daily
Is more better? by Saelen Ghose
The phrase 110% has become a staple in our culture. I’m not sure who coined that phrase and why they felt it necessary to add an extra 10% to an already conclusive number, but this sentiment of “more is better” has become all pervasive in our culture, and is wreaking havoc on all of us.
I always thought 100% was enough? Doesn’t it connote entire, total, maximum, whole, all in, and complete? But now for some reason, it just doesn’t cut it.
Sure, I get it. People use numbers as a way to emphasize how committed they are to something, whether it’s a project at school, an upcoming game, or even a relationship. It’s about conveying effort and interest, and showing they’re invested and willing to do whatever it takes to make it work. That’s all fine and dandy, but truly 100% would do it.
Exaggeration has always been part of our culture. Storytelling is an art form introduced on playgrounds across the country, nurtured at home, and consummated at all social and work gatherings throughout adult life. Storytelling allows news and words to become malleable, and gives people flexibility to include their own perspective in the retelling.
However, is more really better? Consider the documentary “Super Size Me,” where Morgan Spurlock, an independent film director, eats only fast food for three months. What happens to him? He gains 24 pounds, his cholesterol explodes, and he suffers from liver dysfunction and depression. It takes him fourteen months to lose the weight from his experiment, and even longer to recapture his pre-filming health. This is just one example of how more is actually not better.
Kids also have to deal with this issue. They are exhausted and overwhelmed trying to keep up with the frantic pace of school and activities. And the pressure to excel is great. It’s not enough to get 100% on a test, but what about the extra credit? It’s not enough to play on one soccer team, but now they have to play in the town league, the travel league and on a club team. The examples are endless and this trend is a recipe for complete burnout.
Let’s think about 110% for a minute. Is it really better than 100%? I would argue no. What if your cup is 110% full? Wouldn’t that mean it’s spilling all over you, or on the floor? And if this were the case, you would have a big mess to clean up, which in fact might diminish the percentage of your enjoyment down to about 50%. All of a sudden 110% doesn’t seem so attractive.
We need to rethink how we define what’s good and move beyond assigning a number to it. Being good is more qualitative than quantitative. It’s about being kind, considerate, thoughtful, compassionate and altruistic. It’s about trying hard, but understanding that maximum effort doesn’t always lead to successful outcomes. As the Rolling Stones say, “You can’t always get what you want.” And that’s a lesson worth teaching, but one that gets missed a lot in our entitled culture.
Sure, more IS sometimes better, but it shouldn’t be the way we run our lives. So let’s start by putting an end to this 110%! I’m no genius, but I know when my cup is full and when it runneth over.