Lately the theme of Enough seems to be popping up everywhere in my life. When that happens I know it’s time to write about it.
If you’re on Facebook, you’ve undoubtedly seen the 40 Days 40 Things Challenge, or its alternative 40 Days 40 Bags. The idea being to rid yourself of excess stuff over the 40 days (excluding Sundays) from February 10th through March 27th, with the result of blessing others with your abundance and freeing yourself of the weight of keeping more than you need. It’s a popular theme this time of year. We’ve all probably unintentionally accumulated more over the last few months whether through receiving holiday gifts, or treating ourselves during post-holiday sales. Consequently, late winter seems like the perfect time to shed the excess.
We see the same idea promulgated in the fitness world. Catchy slogans reminding us that Summer Bodies are made during the Winter, abound. We’re invited to get rid of the excess we may have accumulated during the celebrations we’ve enjoyed.
But recently I was reminded of another type of Enough that isn’t discussed very often. This is Enough isn’t about possessions or pounds. It isn’t about clearing out or leaning out. It’s about just being, being satisfied, not yearning or striving or stressing. I think this Enough is important and deserves more attention.
When we open a magazine, switch on the TV, pop open Facebook or any social media really, we are bombarded with images and advertisements all telling us to try harder, be more, be better, be GREAT! And that can be a good thing. One of my own motivators, who I’ve mentioned before, is filmaker/YouTuber Casey Neistat. He’s absolutely a workaholic. He’s always striving to get more done, and drink in everything he can. He’s gone as far as having “Do More Work” tattooed on his arm as reminder that there is always more to do, and commitment and consistency are the keys to success. I agree. But I also think we’re missing a key component of life when we just accept that we always need to be doing more, doing better, trying harder. And what we miss is the concept of Enough.
A comment from an acquaintance caught my eye recently. I can’t remember what exactly spurred her comment, but she said (and I’m paraphrasing a bit), What if I just want a small life? An ordinary life? …. That hit me like a brick. I started thinking and a memory surfaced of watching a segment of a Sunday morning news program--the one that Harry Smith hosts, I think it’s actually called CBS Sunday Morning. Anyway, the correspondent was visiting a Buddhist retreat in the San Francisco Bay Area, and he was talking with a woman who had started out visiting the retreat to de-stress from her high pressure career. Eventually she left her career and moved to the retreat full-time to live, meditate, and work in the gardens there. Her friends and family thought she was nuts. She talked about her previous life of luxury, of owning expensive clothes and a swanky house, traveling to lovely places, and dining in chic restaurants, and of working more and more so she could afford more. But one statement stuck with me. He asked her if she missed any of that and she answered no, that during that time of her life she had everything, but now she had Enough, and wasn’t Enough all we really needed? She pulled the sleeve of her worn out sweater, and said that for the weather that day, her sweater was Enough. The vegetables she was tending were Enough to feed her and the other residents, her bed was Enough, her life was Enough.
Enough. Isn’t that what we all want? We want to have enough love, enough food, enough time, enough money, enough, enough, enough. But how do we know when it’s enough? I think that’s what my acquaintance was getting at when she said she wanted an “ordinary” life. Think about how people lived before MTV turned Sweet 16 birthdays into ridiculously over the top shows. Think about how people now are starting to reject the ‘normal’ $30,000 wedding and instead embracing the Etsy/DIY wedding. Think about why we need these 40 day Clutter challenges, and why professional clutter busters are all over the bestsellers lists, and TV. It’s not because we don’t have enough stuff. It’s because we’ve given in to the lie that more is better, that bigger is better, that newer is better, and most disastrously that we aren’t enough. Our lives aren’t enough, our love isn’t enough, we ourselves are not enough.
But we are. We are enough. We don’t have to want to live the lives that advertisers tell us we should be living--we can choose to recognize when we have enough. Just like we sometimes need to relearn how to recognize when we’ve eaten enough, or exercised enough, we may need to step back and do some work on learning to recognize when our lives are full, when they are Enough. But we can do it. And we can reject the stress and unhappiness of feeling less than, of feeling unsatisfied, or overworking and under-appreciating.
There’s a quote that says the key to Happiness isn’t having everything you want, it’s Wanting everything you have. I think that’s extremely applicable to this subject of Enough.
I’m not necessarily advocating being a slacker and laying around in your underwear all day, meaningful work is important for our mental health, as well as being able to eat, and have a place to live! But maybe we can recognize our excesses in our desires, and the effect that has on our lives, and then work on appreciating when we do indeed have Enough.