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More Is Not Better

You can have too much of a good thing. The most obvious things are food and alcohol, an excess of either can make us fat or drunk. But there are other, less tangible things, such as information and medication, that can also negatively impact our quality of life if we consume too much of them. Even at a time of economic hardship for many Americans, the dangers of abundance are very real. We want more because it often confers status (a bigger house, a bigger car, a bigger salary), sates a craving (food, sex, the latest gadget), or promises somehow to make our lives better (education, work, law). If we are unable to achieve these goals, often we feel worse about our lives, equating this inability with a lack of self-worth, which makes us want even more what we don't—or can't—have. Wanting more becomes a vicious cycle, and even when we get what we want, it usually just leaves us wanting the next thing. The ancient Romans, at least before they lost their empire by spending too much time at orgies and circuses, had it right when they extolled moderation as one of the most important virtues. As the playwright Plautus put it: "In everything the middle course is best: All things in excess bring trouble to men." We don't want to let what happened to Rome happen to us.

Click here to see 25 good things that can be bad for us.
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