I've been thinking lately that nothing happens, nothing AT ALL happens, unless someone has more than they need.
It doesn't really need to be me. It doesn't really need to be you. It's just that SOMEBODY needs to have more than necessary. Somebody needs a surplus.
Until that happens everyone is operating at a survival level.
Survival level SUCKS.
Once someone has extra... maybe it's a windfall (as in... the big tree blew over and Caveperson Biff suddenly finds himself with 20 or 30 pounds of saturated honeycomb) or maybe it's ability (as in... Caveperson Stan is a big burly fellow and hunts better than anyone else and regularly has more hides and meat than he needs) but until that happens no one has anything to trade. Once SOMEBODY has that surplus people can begin to live above survival level. Stan can trade meat to Biff for some honey, so that lets Biff off hunting just a bit and Biff can spend the time figuring a better way to make arrows, or Caveperson Tiffy can experiment with the extra hides Stan has without someone freezing to death because she ruined a couple while trying different ways to tan them.
Technology, innovation, experimentation... particularly experimentation... only happens when someone has more than they need. Someone has a surplus. Someone has TIME because they're able to trade or pay for the surplus that others have.
In our personal lives, too, in order to improve your condition you need to have more than you need. You need a little extra.
Now mostly, I think, we're subject to "closet space" issues. We fill up whatever we have, no matter how much we have. Foolishly taking on additional obligations increases the base level of what we NEED. Once you've borrowed for that car or signed a lease or mortgage, you're pretty much stuck with a new "survival" level. It's hard to downsize your own life just because you realized that you made an expensive mistake.
It's important to plan on how to get and have more than you need or you'll be doing nothing but playing catch-up. Playing catch-up SUCKS.
Set up your life so you have more than you need, so that your needs are under control and you've got that surplus. At that point you can take advantage of what happens when Biff gets a windfall or Stan excels because of inherent talent or when Tiffy makes a great new discovery. At that point you can invest in yourself and your future even if it's something small like taking a class or gaining a certification. At that point you're not stuck playing catch-up.
I do realize that there is a minimum "need" that you can't really go below in order to find your surplus. At some point you really don't have more than you need. But that is actually pretty darn low. The main thing that raises that level of need and needlessly gobbles up your potential surplus is, first, your own bad decisions (MY own bad decisions!) and second, government. The government programs that are intended to keep even the poorest people living comfortable lives make everything more expensive. It's illegal to cut corners in where you live or with how many other people, or the arrangements others are allowed to make with you to reduce your expenses. So sure, there is a minimum level of "need" that is legitimate, since you can't do much about the government imposed "benefits" you have to pay for and regulations you have to meet before you can eke out that bit more than you need.
But bottom line?
You need more than you need. And you need others to have more than they need. The idea that we're inter-connected? That's true. But when someone is fussing that someone else over there has more than they need? They're screwing with you because you NEED there to be a Biff with a windfall and a Stan who is better at business and a Tiffy who has the time and funds to experiment and invent.
Never doubt it.