If someone were to ask me what their life mantra should be, I would suggest, “New, Better, More”. Why? Because that’s what keeps life interesting, engaging, and meaningful. Let’s discuss.
This blog and the book, The Meaning of Life, talk a lot about growth. Growth is ultimately the point of life, as all living organisms strive to grow and it makes life seem meaningful and significant. But most people think of growth as biological: cell division, reproduction, and getting physically bigger. But growth is more than that: you can grow a business, grow your finances, grow your collection of sports memorabilia—basically, you can grow anything.
But for people who don’t think of growth that way, a quick and catchy way to break it down further is, “New, Better, More”. After all, parents work to provide better lives for their kids; employees work to earn more money; people keep trying new things to keep life interesting and engaging. Those all count as growth: growing your quality of life for your kids, growing your finances and assets, or growing your portfolio of lived experiences. They’re all forms of growth, but it’s easier for people to think of new, better, or more things to do/be/have that they want.
So, if you are bored in life or feeling listless, ask yourself what new things you could do that would excite you. Ask what about your life could be better and what you could do to make it that way. Ask yourself what more lies in store for you in the future. Yes, your initial answer might be “nothing” if you’re in a bad mood, but your mood is also because of your belief in that answer. If you want to keep your meaning, engagement, excitement, and interest in life, you have to be looking for NBM.
Now, I just want to be clear that there’s nothing wrong with old, the same, or less. (note: obviously, nobody likes worse) The point is not to always seek NBM in everything you do to the detriment of other things in your life. There is value in tradition, family, reliability, consistency, loyalty, and minimalism. Yes, interpreting NBM in materialistic terms is a risk because you’ll never be satisfied simply with new, better, and more material things. Instead, you might burn yourself our or find that you were focusing on the wrong things.
Remember, though, that NBM is about growth in your life and not just mindless acquisition of things (though if things make you happy, by all means acquire them!). The reason for the popularity of mindfulness and minimalist practices is not because NBM is wrong but because most people are focusing on the wrong things in their lives and need less noise, fewer distractions, fewer things to maintain or manage, less stress, or fewer negative emotions in their lives. But for every “less” is a NBM: new perspective, better focus, greater appreciation, and more time to reflect are examples of NBM coming from these reduction practices. So it’s not that NBM is wrong but that people are focusing on what they think they want to be happy or what others say they should want and not what they want or need to feel fulfilled in life.
So how can you apply NBM today? Just simply take the following steps:
This might seem obvious, but note the difference to what you might have expected: when you look at your life, appreciate what you have, and then ask yourself if there’s anything else you want, you don’t immediately think negative thoughts about everything and instead come from a place of being content but then identifying reasons to keep moving forward and be positive about what you could do/be/have in the future. I didn’t simply say, “Identify new, better, more things you could do,” and leave it at that because you would’ve immediately jumped to, “Well, this sucks in my life.” Life isn’t just about fixing problems (though you might need motivation to fix them if they do exist); it is also about how better and better life gets as you make progress and, yes, fix the problems along the way.
So consider NBM in your life. Do you want more time with family? New experiences with your spouse? A new career? More joyful experiences? Note that you don’t have to get rid of what you love or take it for granted; you are simply pushing yourself forward to better and better experiences and outcomes in your life for yourself and the people you care about. And when you have a NBM mindset, you have a growth mindset, which is the mindset for motivation, success, meaning, and happiness in life (see Dr. Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset, for more on this).
So go ahead and make it your mantra, hashtag #NewBetterMore or #NBM on social media, and try to live with the mindset of your life always improving and getting better, and you’ll have more motivation, energy, and enthusiasm for life than you might’ve had before with a “life sucks” or “it’s never enough” (in an exasperated way) mantra. Yes, you can probably do with less of the opposite of what you want/need more of, but focusing on the positive things not only helps your outlook and motivation but also improves your mood and experiences along the way.