Does More Than One Really Make Life Better?

We’re all somewhat hardwired to want more, more, more even when we have enough or even more than enough.

One is better than none. So two is better than one, right?

That logic should carry to more is better than one, right? We want one more scoop of ice cream. One more slice of cake. One more gift under the Christmas tree.

Somehow, even if we’re not deprived, or perhaps especially if we’re not deprived, we develop a scarcity mentality. We never have enough. More is always better!

Unless it isn’t.

Just one for balance

I’ve noticed a curious pattern with my sunglasses. I often have just have one pair of sunglasses. When I only have one pair, I know exactly where it is. My mind keeps track. I pay attention. It’s my only pair, so if I put it down, I sure as heck want to make sure I know where I left my glasses.

Occasionally I’ll pick-up a second pair, or I will find an old pair that was lost. My abundance doubles, and now I have two pairs of sunglasses!

In my life, this is never a stable condition. I graduated from college, but I can’t track two pairs of sunglasses. I forget one in the car, and I find another in the mudroom. I then put that pair down in the kitchen, and bring in the other pair and leave it in the office. Soon I forget which was where. I can’t keep track of either pair.

Before long, I’ll find myself stressfully running around the house, running late and needing to head out, but struggling to find just one pair of glasses. Just one!

Within a week, I’ll have lost one pair, and I’ll be back to one. One pair that’s never lost. Life returns to balance.

It took me years to realize that one pair of glasses, one phone charger, one pen, one notebook, one of anything is often better than more.

A cost beyond the price tag

Occasionally I’ll daydream and think, wouldn’t life be easier if I had a desktop computer I always leave at the office, and another laptop for travel? Sounds good. Sounds tempting. The good life, right? Then I realize it’s another computer to update, it’s another computer to manage. Inevitably something won’t sync, and I’ll have the computer but be without a key file.

More than one

I’m still wired like our six-year old. More is better. That’s my impulse. I haven’t escaped the instinct, but I have slowly begun to develop a rational response to it. A way to contain it.

I’ve learned that every additional thing we own has a cost that goes beyond the price tag.

Everything we own also owns a bit of us.

One of something is less to track.

One is less to manage.

One is usually better.

Even if it’s ice cream, which I love, more often than not, one serving (ok, maybe my serving is a BIG scoop) is a fantastic treat. Two big scoops are fun to eat but don’t leave me feeling as great. I’m less satisfied. And with confidence, I can say that three, four, or five scoops is punishment.

When is just one better for you?

Peter Polson

Peter Polson

Peter loves designing great products and creating tools and systems that help people live better lives. He was a founder and president of Junxion (acquired by Sierra Wireless) and later CEO at Dashwire (acquired by HTC). He enjoys most activities around mountains and water, especially skiing and hiking with his family.

Start Your Free Trial

"There isn’t another tool on the market that does what Tiller can do.”
Will Hinton, Google Review October 30, 2023