Where do you derive your sense of enough? Is it from feeling full after a delicious meal or from reaching a certain distance during an afternoon run? Perhaps you measure enough by how many tasks you accomplish at the office, how many likes your new post gets, or how many smiles you give and receive over the course of a day.
Enough is defined as “as much as is necessary; in the amount or to the degree needed.” But for many, enough falls short. To put it simply, enough is not enough. What’s necessary or needed is ignored in favor of what will bring us fleeting highs, external validation, or temporary admiration.
As we continually push the bounds of enough, we might lose sight of what matters: the roof over our head, the shoes on our feet, the car, bus, or bicycle we rely on for transportation, the long-term relationships we cherish, the clean bill of health we easily take for granted, the water in our faucets, the food on our table.
Instead, we focus on how we’ll achieve our next milestone, mistakenly believing that each new accomplishment will solidify our standing, or better yet, improve it. We seek bigger spaces to fill with bigger and better things, hoping that more square footage will lead to lasting contentment. We chase novelty in fleeting trends and passing crazes, forgetting that these too are designed to leave us in a constant state of yearning.
Hedonic adaptation refers to our tendency to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major recent positive or negative events or life changes. When we graduate college, get a promotion, or buy a new television, our expectations and desires rise accordingly. In other words, we’re no longer satisfied with the way things were because we grow accustomed to the way things are now, and the degree of freedom, choice, and privilege they afford.
Rather than seeking long-term happiness, fulfillment, success, and recognition through short-term pleasures, we can reimagine our understanding of enough. We can stop confusing essentials with excess and start celebrating being able to meet our basic needs. We can ask ourselves:
- What do I need to do to keep my body healthy?
- What do I need to eat to ensure I don’t go hungry?
- Where do I need to cut back so I can pay my bills/ reduce my debt/ save for something enjoyable?
- What relationships are most important to me and how can I help them flourish?
- Where in my home do I feel most joyful/ energized/ relaxed/ inspired? How can I tap into this feeling with what I already have?
- How does my present job enable me to find a greater sense of meaning or purpose?
- Which of my belongings/ hobbies/ relationships detracts from my recognizing that what I have is enough?
Most importantly, we can acknowledge that our deepest source of enough must come from within ourselves. Before we can expect any person, place, or possession to contribute meaningfully to our lives, we must know and believe that we alone will always be enough; that nothing external will make us whole or our lives complete; that our value is not determined by what we do or what we own; that seeking to feel like we’re enough through any other means will not replace our need to be enough for ourselves.
Knowing that you are enough is not an invitation to stop growing or striving, but an opening to honor these qualities within yourself. It allows you to find enrichment in the midst of difficulty and encourages you to make the most of what you’re given.
When we are enough for ourselves, we gravitate toward creating lives that prioritize our values over our possessions; that foster healthy, supportive relationships; that enable us to recognize what we have control over and what we don’t; that continually allow us to connect with and share our strengths; and that provide a model for others to do the same.
Today, instead of seeking more, I invite you to seek enough. When you fill your plate, let one helping be enough. When you spend time with loved ones, let their mere presence be enough. When you exercise, let your efforts be enough. When you work, let what you get finished be enough. When you check social media, let one time be enough. When you walk in the door, let your surroundings be enough. When you go to bed, remember that you alone are enough.
About the Author: Emily Rose Barr, of A Soul Awake, is a lighthearted creative who pauses to take note… of laughter, color, conversation, open doors, and finer details.