More Must Be Better
It can be tempting to believe: if something is good for me, more must be better. Sometimes it’s downright automatic in our thought processes. Even if we grasp the fallacy, we may still fail to recognize when we are thinking this way.
“If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.”
― Ayn Rand
But is it?
If vitamins are good, then I should take supplements, because more must be better.
If exercising makes me feel good, more must be better.
If some luxury is comforting, more must be better.
If making more money makes me happy, even more must be better.
If working makes me productive, more must be better.
If eating fat is healthy, more must be better.
If carbs make me feel good, more must better.
If protein builds muscle, more must better.
Well, sometimes more is better, but most of the time that’s too simplistic a way to approach life. Sometimes more is better; sometimes it isn’t.
Enter the inverted u-curve.
As you can see, in the beginning more is better.
For example, exercising twice a week makes you feel better than once. Then, three times a week may feel better yet. Increasing exercise may help with weight control, mood…everything!
Before you know it, you’re working out seven days a week. You’ve convinced yourself that you’ll gain several pounds if you miss a day. Meanwhile, you’re overworking yourself, stressing your body and mind, and moving closer to a breakdown of some kind.
Part of the problem is that we tend to believe what we are doing is more important than what we are not doing. In a sense, we place more value on the notes we are playing than the silence between. But you need both to make music.
In other words we think our workouts are more important than our rest days. But they aren’t. We think the identified nutrients in whole foods are more important than the rest of the whole food. But they go together. We think being productive is more serious than sleeping. But we get more done with sufficient rest.
At some point, we hit peak benefit. Go beyond that and the benefits begin to diminish. Go far enough, and you could even get hurt.
We’ve all overdone it, and we’ll all overdo it again. But, if we remember the u-curve, hopefully we’ll keep getting better at aiming for the sweet spot.
“The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom…You never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough.”
― William Blake