Living in the Land of Enough

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Courtney Carver of Be More with Less.

living-in-the-land-of-enough

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” - Mahatma Gandhi

It is no secret that we live in the land of plenty. Even in the midst of a struggling economy, the average American household spends close to $3000 dining out each year. Up to 40 percent of American households spend more money annually than they make, and in 2009, the average American owed $8,400 in credit card debt.

In the land of plenty, we are constantly tempted with more ways to spend: bigger servings, buy one get one free offers, and endless opportunities to get rich quick. Most of us have never really understood what it is like to be hungry or want for a real necessity. Even with overflowing plates, closets full of clothes, and garages stuffed floor to ceiling with boxes of stuff that won’t fit in our over sized homes, there is more evidence than ever before of people searching for more. Clearly, spending more than enough, to have more than enough, does not equal happiness… not even in the land of plenty.

What if we decided to embrace the idea of living in “the land of enough” rather than “the land of plenty?” What if we began to resist the temptation for more and instead, became content with what we already have? How would our lives begin to change?

If you have entertained the idea of living more simply but have never tried before, put it to a short test for a few days or weeks. The benefits you see in the first few days just may be enough to inspire a lifestyle makeover. Here’s a mini, simple living boot camp to help you get started. Give it a try for 10 days and see what changes in your life. You may be surprised how much you enjoy living in the land of enough.

7 Ways to Live in the Land of Enough

  1. Save Your Money - There is no need for credit cards or therapeutic shopping in the land of enough. There are also no overdraft fees or ATM charges. Just put your cards away for 10 days. Then, keep a list of purchases you would have made if you were using your credit card, or if you were shopping for sport, and take note of the money that you didn’t spend.
  2. Take Your Time - In the land of enough, you have time to breathe. Stop trying to squeeze so much in. If you are always running late, falling behind, or trying to catch up, try slowing down. Cancel a few unnecessary appointments and don’t schedule any new ones if you can help it. Then, make a little time everyday for solitude.
  3. Disconnect - Set a specific time to disconnect each day. In the land of enough, there is less need to be plugged in. If you can, commit to not using a computer after dinner or before lunch time. Be mindful of how much time you spend online and are virtually available. Protect your time and your mind.
  4. Eat Real Food - Only eat food that you prepare. Summertime is the perfect time to eat fresh food – fruits and veggies are often fresh, local, and less expensive than buying them in winter. Do not eat anything from a box, restaurant or drive-thru. While you may choose to eat less by eliminating processed foods, you may find that you naturally eat just enough.
  5. Make Space – Clear out some space in your house. You don’t need to take on big purging projects during this time to make space. Simplify one room (or even just the corner of one room) and keep it as clean and clutter free as possible. Even if the rest of your house is cluttered, this area can be a great reminder of how you might feel living with less.
  6. Entertain Yourself – Unplug your TV and plan to enjoy your friends, family, the great outdoors, or a book you have been meaning to read. Do not spend time and money on expensive shows, travel or recreational activities. While the land of plenty calls you to spend more money for entertainment, you already have enough right where you are.
  7. Say Thank You – As you go through these steps, you will find enough time and space to be grateful. Through prayer, thank you cards, or a kind gesture, share your gratitude every day.

There is no risk involved by visiting the land of enough. Bring your family with you and talk about what you like and don’t like about the changes you’ve made. Based on these discussions, you can decide what changes become a permanent part of your life. If you don’t enjoy living without TV, plug it back in. If saving money makes you miserable, go on a tear at the mall after your experiment.

At the very least, you will have taken some time to determine what is important to you and your family. At the very most, you will be happier and learn that enough, really is enough.

***

Courtney is a writer and fine art photographer. She writes about simplifying and living life on purpose at Be More with Less. You can also follow her on Twitter.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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Comments

  1. says

    Thank you so much for this! Especially for #3. I was finding that I was being WAY to available online and took a day completely off yesterday and was realizing that it was my “do more faster” idea that was keeping me online. Yesterday, being unplugged all day, reconnected me with things of tangible meaning in my life and was able to do many things that nourish me.
    This post has inspired me to be more aware of my online time.

    • says

      Amelia,

      Glad you were inspired! I think on some level, we stay plugged in because we are afraid of missing something (important email, latest tweet), but in reality, we are missing something by staying plugged in.

      • Thia May says

        Wow. Courtney. That is stupidly, amazingly, absurdly profound. I have never thought of being unplugged that way, but you are so right. Wow. I honestly think I have a head rush. Yes, I’m afraid of missing something, but what I’m missing instead by being plugged in…Unplugging right now, actually. <3 to you.

  2. says

    I practice solitude, Yoga, and occasionally reading a book (although I am not a big reader). I am mindful about slowing down and not have my schedule full. My weak point is that I am a closet-recreational shopper/collectors. I like buying collectables and hide them in my closet so my place does not look cluttered, as a matter of fact my place looks like a minimalist place. I do take them out and admire them so the six-month rule really doesn’t apply. I think its great if you happen to like doing things that are intangible like friends, reading, outdoors. I like tangible things. I justify it by limiting my collections. Unfortunately, collecting is an ongoing process. It is chasing for next one to go with your set. I have curved my collecting habits a lot, but it’s not gone. I am happy with collecting. I just have to be mindful. Reading your blogs is a nice support to keeping me balanced. Thanks!

    • says

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I don’t think collecting something is a bad thing. It sounds like you do it mindfully and that it adds joy to your life. I think that is what this whole living life on purpose thing is all about!

  3. says

    What a pleasant introductory article! This puts everything in a nutshell yet doesn’t get in your face.

    I have to work on being unplugged, especially since my laptop is also my book reader, my stereo and my television as well as my phone. It is too tempting to check that email or browse Facebook.

    Thanks for writing this!

    • says

      Annie, Thank you. It really is tempting to “check in” but I often find it’s more fun to do it once or twice a day. Then there is much more opportunity for something good to be waiting in the in-box.

  4. says

    There is a fallacy in your first bullet, for credit cards don’t enable you to spend your money — but to spend someone else’s money that you later pay back.

    If you pay for things with cash, you lose the ability for that money of yours to collect interest while paying back the credit card company.

      • says

        Perhaps I miswrote about interest, but not about the importance of credit cards.

        I recently heard Frank Abagnale speak. He was the inspiration for the film “Catch Me If You Can.”

        “I put everything on that credit card,” he said, because most companies that accept checks as payment require a social security number, driver’s license, and/or date of birth as supplemental data written on the check. Nine U.S. states, he said, currently use the social security number as a driver’s license number.

        By not exposing your paper checks and debit cards to risk, you save money.

        • jDeppen says

          “Nine U.S. states, he said, currently use the social security number as a driver’s license number.”
          Well that is just dumb. You’re right, I would be careful if I lived in those states. I try not to use checks at all (ING). I had to use a check two days ago and I they required license number, phone number, and date of birth.

          Check this out:
          “Credit really isn’t safer than debit!”
          http://www.daveramsey.com/article/the-basics-of-your-debit-card/lifeandmoney_creditcards?atid=davesays

          We have eliminated $95,000 of debt using Dave Ramsey’s plan and we’re almost done. It’s been a long 2 years but now we have 2 cars free and clear and almost no payments except the house (which is now on a 15 year mortgage).

          Avoid credit like the plague.

      • says

        Following the Dave Ramsey Plan helped get our family out of debt and convinced me that there is no upside to credit cards. The points, cash back, and other incentives are incentives to spend more. I don’t want to spend more, I want to spend less!

        • Sheri says

          Actually, I don’t agree that there are no upsides to credit cards, so long as they are used mindfully. We have one that is a hotel points card. We never pay interest as we put every purchase on the card and then pay the lump sum at the end of the month. While we do this, we earn hotel points. This means we travel for very little (as we usually have airline points if we want to go far afield). Last year, we did a 6 day 2 city California tour for $1000. This past summer, we spent 5 days on a beach for $500. (all of that is just paying for food and entertainment – snorkeling, beach chair and umbrella rents and dinner – as breakfast is always free for us). Before my mother passed away, I spent at least part of every week for 6 months staying in a hotel close to her because she didn’t have the space for me at her house (free). For my 40th birthday, my husband booked us in the poshest hotel downtown and we had a weekend of enjoying our city, that is well known for its music and food. Traveling isn’t important to some, but traveling is very important to us and using credit cards is a way to accomplish that – we aren’t earning interest, we aren’t paying interest but we are getting something free that is valuable to us. It takes mindfulness and discipline – but it can be done to benefit you and not the card company.

          • Sheri says

            But everything else you said up, spot on. Do you find that Holidays with regular family are tougher ? I am a very bad gift giver these days (or I feel I am) because we don’t focus on possessions. – Seriously, our Christmas tree usually sports 6 presents for our 3 member household (2 each) and those are usually fairly small and useful gifts….with which we are very happy. Our extended family, though, not being minimalists like us….don’t really get the smaller, less commercial holiday we embrace and don’t appreciate our smaller way of living. Instead of gifts, we actually fill the season with Sunday night home cooked dinners followed by drives around the neighborhoods to look at the Christmas lights – this begins at Thanksgiving and it’s fun to watch the holiday displays come out, more every week until Christmas eve when it’s like a wonderland, an annual trip to our city’s most glorious display of yard art imaginable and the giant Christmas tree made entirely of lights that you can spin under until you fall down – young and old do this every year -, the holiday movies we watch every.single.year – A Christmas Carol on Christmas eve and It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Day and the Christmas night trip to the movies. Our 13 year old starts anticipating this season in October so I know we are doing this right!) But what to do about extended family who expect gifts…and not really small but useful gifts? It’s been my vexation for years. (they know we are minimalists…

  5. Sue says

    I find that a caravan (trailer) holiday fulfils this purpose for me. We live in a small space, using the outdoors as an extra room, take the minimum of belongings, and cook with simple ingredients. We take a mobile phone and radio but no TV or laptop, and we spend our evenings walking, talking or reading.

    We also eat in pubs or restaurants quite often, but that is a break from our home routine and therefore justified.

    I miss my computer and my garden when we’re away, and I look forward to using a proper kitchen and bathroom again. But in the caravan we do have “enough”.

  6. says

    yes…yes…yes. I spoke on this, just this past Sunday in church, ( http://churchbcc.org ) the topic of “enough is enough” growing out of the call to environmental responsibility. It all begins with finding contentment in what is already here, rather than thinking satisfaction requires the next purchase, or journey. Thanks for the good word.

  7. says

    I love this idea! Since I started reading articles like this, I notice how much stuff I have that I don’t need, and I notice how much stuff everyone else has, and I wonder why we have so much in this country while others in the world don’t have enough.

    • sue says

      I went shopping with my daughter last week and found myself thinking the same thing! All those clothes, not to mention all the household stuff – and most of not really of much practical use. I felt weighed down just looking at it. Trouble is, people seem to think they have to have it all, just because it’s there, and that’s just not true.

      I bought one bottle of shampoo that day.

      • says

        Most of the time, I think people buy something to feel something. Often, they don’t even know what they want when they walk in the store. The biggest problem is lack of awareness. I know that was my biggest issue. I never had a problem walking into Target for one thing and leaving with 20, until I became aware that what I was looking for wasn’t at Target and wouldn’t cost me a penny!

        • says

          Most time in my life, that was my biggest problem! I had an emptiness in myself and try to fill it with things!

          After years and many bought things the emptiness, was still there! Today I know, that this emptyness is only to be filled by “real” things (friends, girlfriend, cooking, doing things i like), without buying!

          And it works!

          • Lizzi from Sydney Australia says

            how ‘true’ is that Mac! I too have lived the same way and have found the pricelessness in what ‘doesn’t cost money!! good on you!!

          • Susan says

            My new therapist just recently told me the same thing…food and things are just a replacement for feelings of loss and loneliness and I need to find healthier ways to fill the holes in my heart. Good thoughts.

  8. says

    I’m starting my 10 day- commitment now… And then packing my bags and heading to Guatemala to truly do it simply. Disconnect. Eat real food. Save money. Thanks for the tips!

  9. Lizzi from Sydney Australia says

    I LOVE THIS WEBSITE! I was led to this website by another last week and over the weekend ‘made a conscious decision’ to implement living simply over the weekend. I cancelled my appointements & enjoyed my whole weekend, soaked in a good book, with a delicious cup of tea & watching my husband run up and down the yard with my two girls in the wheelbarrow, squeeling with delight…now THAT is what a credit card ‘cannot buy’……Thank you Courtney Carver, you are truly a blessing to others!!

  10. Susan says

    Ouch! You know how you think you have some illness or disease and you look at a symptom list and 4 out of 5 fit you? I feel the same way with your list – they ALL apply to me! I have the clutteraholic disease (not as serious as hoarder, but getting there according to my family and friends). I so needed to read this! I’m going to work on the steps and see where it takes me, hopefully to a simpler and more satisfactory life. I believe that God places people in our lives just when we need them and you’re what I need right now. thanks.

  11. Inmy says

    I was in a clothing chainstore a while back & felt like I was being choked. SOoooo many racks of clothes…..sooooo close together. Could hardly get thru, let alone step back a bit to look thru the racks. Then I wandered into the “plus size” section…..I am a medium size person and could barely squeeze thru in-between the racks of clothing without knocking some of them off the rack. I don’t know how a “plus size” person manuevers thru this store. One thing I’ve noticed in the clothing stores is the more expensive the clothing is – the more space they have. Lower priced clothing stores seem to have way too many racks/shelves packed in with no room to breathe. Plus the clothing gets damaged easier from being knocked off the rack, walked on, snagged by carts, etc. I HATE SHOPPING!!!! It’s so EXHAUSTING.

  12. Izzi says

    well written and well shared indeed! if one needs more details – one just has to read the ‘top line’ from Mahatma Ghandi again……its in all there! what else is there say really!

  13. Teresa says

    I have been seeing a therapist for a major depressive disorder for 21 months now and she has really come to know me quite well. She suggested that I get rid of stuff to ease my anxiety. I have started practicing mindfulness and trying deaperately to live In the here and now. My kitchen is clean for the first time in a month and it really feels good. My dog and I take very long walks at night and I am learning to love myself again! I find TV boring now.

    As I move into minimalism it feels good. For those who love Dave Ramsey, I too am Babystepping, but when Murphy moved in I began to feel like a failure (he se the MD taking over. This is the year that the debt starts really falling off (yay).

    Thank you ALL so much for giving me HOPE!!!

    I am beginning to move

Sites That Link to this Post

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  3. Keep it Simple | Be More with Less | September 13, 2010
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  5. Minimalist « Curious Folks | October 2, 2012

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