“Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.” —Epicurus
Enough is a freeing concept and a liberating reality.
Those who have accumulated enough are left without wanting. They are no longer required to strive for more. Instead, they live free and content.
Most of us are driven by the desire to own enough physical possessions. This is good and true—to provide for ourselves and our family is a worthy pursuit.
Because of this desire, we spend our days pursuing the increased possession of material goods—both financial and material.
And while there is nothing wrong with this pursuit, I wonder if our culture has unintentionally shifted from the pursuit of enough to the pursuit of excess. Consider the fact that most of us already own enough:
Our roof provides shelter for our entire family. Our rooms are furnished with places to sit and lie. Our dressers are filled with clothes. Our closets are supplied with towels and linens. Our pantries and our freezers are stocked with food. Our toy chests house plenty of toys.
We already have enough.
Unfortunately, we live in a world that constantly redefines this notion of enough:
- 50 years ago, a house of 1,000 square feet was considered enough. Today, the average new home is 2,300 square feet—and still 10% of us rent off-site storage.
- 30 years ago, 1.5 televisions in every home was considered enough. Today, the average American home contains more televisions than people. And when every room is full, the industry begins to redefine enough in terms of size and picture-quality.
- 15 years ago, less than half of American adults owned a cell phone. Today, over 90% of adults own a cell phone—and 70% of 12-year olds.
Advertisers work relentlessly to redefine enough. In a consumer-based society, they are required to do so.
The goal of advertising is to stir within us the thinking that we do not yet own enough. Marketers work to change our attitude about their product or service from “that’s extravagant” to “I want that” to “I need that.”
Once they can convince us we need it, our purchase is just a matter of time. If they can make us believe we don’t have enough until we own their product, they know we will continue to pursue ownership of it.
Our definition of enough has been artificially moved by a self-serving entity. And because our new definition of enough remains unachieved, our ability to enjoy its freedom has been lost.
Once again, we are held in bondage to its pursuit. We spend more of our days pursuing the money to fund the increased possession of material goods. All with the goal of finally attaining enough.
But we already have enough. Once we train ourselves to recognize this truth, we are freed from the pursuit of more, we are liberated from the bondage of discontent, and we begin to experience true freedom in our lives.
Best of all, once we realize we already own enough, we are freed to pursue more worthy endeavors than the accumulation of excess.
I spent this past weekend, both Saturday and Sunday cleaning out my two car garage. For the most part it was a fast process, I had a van backed into it, back opened and it was toss, toss, toss, no we won’t “maybe” need that thing that has been living in the garage for 4 years that we haven’t used, that isn’t a seasonal item or whatever, toss it. Three van loads, totally almost 1000 pounds of “stuff” (Something That Under-minds Family Fun) later, my garage now consist of 4 boxes of holiday decorations (instead of 8), a few yard tolls, one small bin of regular tolls, a freezer, a mower, and two items I am waiting for someone to come gather (an EXTRA washing machine and tires). SO MUCH space left!
Even my two teens were on board. My son would grab a bag or box with his name and go, you know – unless there is something in here you want mom, I don’t even need to open this. I haven’t needed/wanted anything from here in the last two years since I packed this, lets put this in the car for donation. Out of 6 giant bags of stuff animals, ONE dolphin was pulled out and saved by my daughter, the hundreds of others are going to a new home!
It was such a freeing fun time just getting rid of it all!
Now, next time I say, lets clean the garage my kids will go, “seriously, like what do you want us to do, sweep it?” !
Personally, to get enough and be satisfied with your enough, is an impossibility unless you can rid association with those who are keeping score and make obvious what they have, while leaving a strong vibe to what YOU do not. Peer pressure and “he who dies with the most toys wins” are always around to shove it in your face. Their mission is to make you feel poor or inferior. Jettison those folks cold turkey or they will steal your happiness no matter what you have..
I took my first step forward in minimalizing my possessions. Like a lot of people l found it hard to figure out where to begin. I looked around my 1000 sq ft house and decided that the best place to begin is my closets. It took 2 days to go through all my clothes snd it was tough in the beginning to let go. But l filled 4 large bags and 1 box with clothes and shoes and I was pleased with the result: a closet with clothes and shoes that I like and will wear. I am now motivated and ready to continue this journey to peace and tranquility.
I couldn’t agree more with this blog post. My whole life I have been drawn naturally towards Minimalism and discovered the concept of ‘minimising our desires’ in Bali a couple of years ago; however I only discovered the concept of ‘Minimalism’ itself a few weeks ago! It’s been fantastic to discover there is a whole community of like-minded people out there in the world and I have been enjoying reading blog posts such as these. I currently live in a flatting situation with other tenants and really notice the contrasts in our attitudes towards ‘enough’ and consumerism in general. It really shows how far I’ve come in terms of my thinking and minimising my life to make it simpler (less possessions, slowing down by putting a stop to working overtime, being mindful of rushing everyone, saying ‘no’ to things I don’t want to do etc). On the other hand my flatmates are are constantly online shopping, buying new things, upgrading, looking for the newest gadget, going to the mall just to fill in time etc and their bedrooms and closets are heaving, whereas I already feel I have more than enough with my own limited possessions and with that my thinking is changing and I no longer feel an urge to shop. I have even been encouraging my friends to donate un-needed items to charity with me. I will be debt free tomorrow and looking forward to seeing how much I can save with my new thinking/motivations. Experiences (not possessions) here I come! :)