Running on Empty: why the way we’re living has to change

running on empty

Our society teaches us that we can never have enough.

It demands that there should be no ceiling to our goals, while also teaching that there is not enough to go around. It teaches that we must fight, and that most of us will lose.

Not Enough is a sickness of our time. It leads to destructive, manipulative, controlling behaviour by our leaders and the businesses that appear to control them. It allows for terrible abuses of power, organised theft, underpayment, overwork, and a total loss of connection with our world. It’s the driver of our destructive, competitive society: the kill-or-be-killed, vengeful, resentful, always-wanting-what-someone-else-has way of life that closes down our lives and drives us into the ground.

It filters down to each and every one of us so that we settle for less; sacrificing our happiness, our time and the planet in the name of simply staying alive.

This feels unstoppable: the world is out of control.

Not Enough is also a lie.

It’s a lie we have bought into so totally, utterly and completely that even those who make more money than they can ever spend will never, ever be able to stop.

This lie keeps us apart. It asks us to demand the downfall of those who have more than us, and despise those who have less. It tells us we need to have more to be more, and that to get what we need we should take it wherever we can. It stops us sharing; it encourages blame; it feeds on a fear of being left behind. This is nasty, powerful stuff.

I often ask myself why it works so amazingly well.

I think it comes down to one simple thing: it’s because most of us are trying to be something we’re not.

You and I grow up believing in a system outside of ourselves. We’re taught that to be somebody we have to achieve certain standards, have certain things and do things we don’t want to do.

And because all we really crave is to be who we are, and to be loved for who we are, we convince ourselves that this is who we are. Then we stop searching, put off pleasure and wait for the day we retire.

We’re running on empty.

As a result, we’ve stopped feeling safe. We look for the missing feelings of connection, freedom and love in all the wrong places: in money, esteem, position, and control. It’s a battle for limited resources, and the stakes are high. If you lose the battle, you lose yourself.

This system works because we’ve lost our strength; we’ve given our power away to a lie. While we believe that we don’t have enough, we’ll continue to believe that we’re not good enough and then we’ll have nothing to give.

So where’s this going?

I want to tell you you are good enough already. That pursuing the things that make you happy is of utmost importance now, not later. It’s important because in aligning our lives with who we are, we find contentment, fulfilment, peace. We become immune to the bullying that tells us we have to cut down, shut down, make do, buy. We are able to identify what we really need and it mostly isn’t stuff.

(That’s what they don’t want you to know.)

What you really need – after water, shelter and food – is easy to find, and it’s free.

It’s also unique, and no one can take it away: it is YOU.

YOU can’t be marketed, apportioned, fought over or sold (sorry Nestlé.) Once you find what you’re looking for, no one can take it away. You can only grow, and the world can only win.

My call to you is to live your life your way. I want you to define success as what makes you happy (and I guarantee this will be a cause to make others happy, too); to give back as only you know how; to trust your instincts and follow your joy.

This is plenty: it will never run out.


In the comments: this idea is the driving force behind Finding Plenty, but do you find it makes sense? What challenges does it present, what stands in the way, what’s missing?  You tell me.


Image by Sam on

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