Is Always Wanting Something More Such A Bad Thing?

If you asked most people about what determines a happy life, they may suggest happiness comes in the form of the cars they drive, the houses they live in, and the jobs they acquire. However, scientists would disagree with this idea (via Quartz). Although achieving our goals and acquiring enough money to sustain ourselves and our families comfortably is ideal, achievement isn't what keeps us happy. Often if we achieve our goals and the material items we desire, it doesn't create long-term happiness. If you are fortunate enough to meet one of your life goals, soon after you will still be craving the next challenge. This is because the human brain desires the stimulation that comes from wanting more.


Although much of our life is spent in comparison with others and desiring things we don't think we'll ever get, our happiness comes from seeking out the goal. If you have been caught in a cycle of desiring more, it's actually natural and healthy for you to feel this way.

We are natural seekers

If you are striving to get to a place where you want to be a better, more successful, or more relatable person, the joy isn't in achieving these milestones; the joy is actually in the pursuit of them. 


According to Quartz, neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp believes that "seeking" is vital to a person's happiness. Setting out our goals is a primal need that supplies dopamine to the brain, and the challenges in our way of attaining what we think we want actually trigger our happiness. This is why seemingly life-changing events like winning a lot of money don't lead to happiness in the long-term. Without the constant challenge of something to strive for, our brains aren't stimulated and boredom sets in.

If you are familiar with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, the pyramid leads to the ultimate goal of self-actualization, per Simply Psychology. The pyramid structure makes sense psychologically. Our most basic human needs for survival are at the bottom and our need to be self-actualized is at the very top. Some people read this pyramid as self-actualization being the point where we've finally achieved all of our goals and we are set for life, but this isn't the case. According to Big Think, it should be read that we strive for "natural, innate motivations" that will result in self-actualization, rather than being self-actualized. This keeps us in a constant search.


How to keep striving

Instead of focusing your attention on the act of achieving the goal, consider focusing on how you'll go about chasing it. Notice the behaviors you employ and the way you problem-solve through roadblocks. Although we live in a world of instant gratification, try to pursue goals that will take some time. By employing willpower and discipline, your work ethic will take over when your motivation to chase a goal wanes. Along the way, you'll be able to learn more about yourself and the processes you employ to achieve your goals.


By the same token, don't fall into the trap of thinking you'll finally be happy when you achieve that particular goal. The happiness is in pursuit, so you have to keep pursuing. Once you've achieved something, start working towards something else. 

Our brains love challenges, so if you find yourself constantly wanting more out of life than you have, make a plan, alter your behaviors to achieve something great, and then set your eyes on the next goal. Your brain will thank you.