The expression "less is more" is the actor's mantra. Overacting is anathema to any self-respecting thespian, and equally repellent to discerning audiences.
But since the GFC, and despite our best intentions and concern for the planet's future, it's clear we're struggling to accept that the good old days are over, and that we must embrace a more frugal lifestyle if we are to be sustainable.
Turn down the air-conditioning, walk don't drive, save water, recycle; all directives we feel guilty about ignoring, but frequently do. Yet just to confuse the issue, our Government gave us all $900 to spend, and consumer confidence remains a measure of a "healthy" economy.
We know intellectually that craving more "stuff" is wrong, but so deeply ingrained are the habits of consumerism that we still drool over catalogues. While much of the world starves, we employ declutterers to help us rid our homes of useless junk we've spent a small fortune accumulating.
Perhaps "more is less" is a more appealing notion. " I got plenty of nuttin', and nuttin's plenty for me," so goes the opening line of the song from Porgy and Bess. The more you have, the more you need to earn to sustain it all.
Nearly everything we crave and buy is intended to create increased comfort. Over a couple of hundred years, we've been conned into believing that material things make us freer to enjoy life, and that the best way to get them is to have "a good education". But if physical comfort and technological gadgetry are the high point of civilization, why do so many of us feel disengaged?
Could it be that our education systems, designed to cater to industrialized society's demands, have created conformist stereotypes, discouraging individual creativity? A minor tertiary degree used to guarantee employment. Now you need a Ph. D. to compete, so what hope do people have who aren't academically inclined?
In our desire to churn out effective members of the workforce, we've successfully consigned many to a life of perceived redundancy, irrelevance and underachievement.
And even if you have a Ph.D and a job, are you happy?
The dawn of comfort was the sunset of creativity. Most of us have more than we need, and when we're flat out working to afford "life's little luxuries", we forget how to play. New experiences bring far more joy and stimulation than new toys.
The world is changing so fast, it's virtually impossible to plan for the future, so we may as well get the most out of now, and let go of possessions, preconceptions and perfection. All the studies show that feeling creative, connected and contributing are the keys to happiness.
True freedom, surely, is choice.
What do you really want to do with your life? Instead of knocking yourself out to maintain the unsustainable status quo, why not let go of the idea of "more", and feel free to try something new? Sure life will be different. It may just be better.