In my last post I discussed one of my major life/relationship philosophies; the notion that my life is not my own. It is, but even though I am an individual my actions impact others. Due to this I can’t just *do what I want*, I need to keep others in mind with everything I do.
One of my other major life philosophies is the concept of enough.
What is enough?
What does this even mean?
A few weeks back I went and saw the movie Logan (great movie by the way), and before it there was a trailer for the upcoming Fast and the Furious movie with excerpts of interviews with the directors. In it, the directors talked about how the Fast and the Furious movies are always spectacles, and for this one they felt they needed to top the previous one. They wanted it to be bigger and better; with more explosions and more elaborate stunts.
This idea of “bigger is better” (or “more is better”) is common in movies (particularly sequels). And this line of thinking isn’t limited to movies, it exists everywhere in life.
If something is good, then more of that something is better, right? We can improve anything, just by having more of it.
How do we know we have a “good” life? We measure it by our happiness, right? So it stands to reason that if we REALLY had a good life we would always be happy. And if we’re not always happy, then something is missing.
We just need to find what that something is, and then we will be happier.
But what do we need?
More money? A better job? A better house? A better body? More sex? More friends? More time out “having fun”? A better lover/partner?
One of these? Some of these? All of these?
Will ANY of these improve the quality of our life? Will any of them actually make us happier?
Personally I think our notion that you can measure quality by of life by “happiness” is broken, but the “more is better” logic tells us yes. And who knows, maybe changing some of these things would result in improvements to our level of happiness.
If we get that raise, maybe now we can go on that trip we wanted. Maybe we upgrade to the bigger house, or the nicer car. If we lose that weight maybe we will feel better about ourselves.
These sorts of things do feel pretty good, at least in the moment. But it’s always short lived. These sorts of improvements are only temporary, because there’s a fundamental problem with “more”.
It’s doesn’t matter how much you have. There will ALWAYS be more.
You can always make more money. There is always a better job, a better house. You lose those 10 pounds, and there are always other changes you can make. Even if your partner is pretty good, there is always going to be another person out there who will be a better lover or partner.
Here’s the problem…
When we believe we don’t have enough, it leads to unhappiness. Because when feel we don’t have enough, we are focused on what we DON’T have. We are focused on what our life is “missing”.
And when we are preoccupied with what we don’t have, we are unable to be present, to actually “live” in the moment.
So to me, the REAL question is not about more.
The REAL question becomes, what is enough.
Continuous growth is unsustainable. There is always going to be something you don’t have. You can always have more.
At what point are you able to be content with what you already have?
To me, THAT is the key. Being able to say “yes, there’s more. But that’s alright because what I have is enough for me”.
My job is enough. My house is enough. My partner is enough. My life is enough.
I am enough.
Enough is about appreciating what you have right now, today; instead of focusing on what you don’t. To me, this should be a good thing, a positive.
But instead, believing that what you have is enough seems to be looked down upon. There seems to be this notion that saying something is enough is about not striving to improve, or about settling.
And in today’s culture, settling seems to be one of the worst things you can do.
Just turn on a television, open a magazine, or listen to the radio. Within a few minutes, you will probably see or hear something telling you how amazing you are. How special you are, and how you deserve the best. After all, YOU are special – You aren’t like everyone else. You should stand out, not fit in. So if you don’t have the best, you are settling. And you could or should have had more. This same approach is used in marketing to make you want to get the best for your partner, or your children. Aren’t they special too? Don’t you want the best for them? Don’t THEY deserve it?
Of COURSE your kids should have the best. Of COURSE your partner should have the best.
But here’s a secret…
I am not special.
You are not special.
Sorry, it’s true. We are all just people.
Regular people, going about our regular lives and doing regular things. Most of us get up in the morning and go to work at jobs that aren’t glamorous but allow us to live our lives. We cook our meals, do our laundry, clean our living spaces. We pay our bills, and hope that at the end of the day there’s enough money and/or energy left over for us to take some time out and do something special for ourselves.
This is reality for most of us, and that should be alright.
I’m not saying that no matter what you have, it should be enough for you. I’m not saying people shouldn’t want more out of life.
Sometimes you DON’T have enough money, and it’s damned hard to get by. Maybe your family HAS outgrown your house, or your vehicle.
And sometimes your partner IS an asshole, and you DO deserve someone who will treat you better (and in turn allow you to treat them better).
It’s not bad to want more, or different.
But what I AM saying is more doesn’t necessarily make things better.
Ask yourself this – if what you have today isn’t making you happy, why in the world would you think that more would make it better?
Life is multi-faceted, and there is balance to be found in everything. There are many areas in life where we can change, and improve. And for each of these areas we need to figure out what enough looks like for ourselves.
Maybe you DO need that six figure salary. Maybe you DO need that big vacation every year.
Enough for me may not be the same as enough for you. And that’s alright.
Each person needs to define that for themselves, and doing so involves looking inward. It involves truly understanding ourselves, and our boundaries. It also involves understanding the difference between need and want, and in today’s world I think we often confuse that.
More isn’t better. And it won’t make us happier. And actually, sometimes it’s the scarcity of something that makes us appreciate even more when we do have it.
When I look at my life, there are a ton of things I would *love* to do. I love travelling, and would be happy to do more of it. I wish I could eat out more, or at least at some of the places I know are outside of my price range. I wish I had more free time to just slack off, and do some things for me.
But then I ask myself, what REALLY matters? What are my REAL priorities?
My children. My family. The people who actually matter in my life, and who I matter to.
I know what love looks like, and I know what caring looks like. And I know what it means to me.
When look at my life I can truthfully say I like what I see. And I know that for me at least, it’s enough.