Day 1: The Concept of “Enough”

As part of my 30 day personal blog writing quest, I have also decided to get up early each day and either go for a walk or run. So today, the alarm went off at 5, I did my daily journaling, completed my morning hygiene rituals, then headed out the door to run.

I ran around the park near our house and started to think about what I would write today. The concept of “enough” has been one I’ve thought about a lot this past year:

What is the definition of enough?

What is enough in terms of clothing?

What is enough in terms of food?

What is enough in terms of free time?

What is enough in terms of salary/money?

Depending on how you go about things, you probably tackle each of those questions with a certain thought process. Maybe you visualize your concept of enough and think about how much you currently have of a given item. Or maybe you are a minimalist and you recoil at the idea of having more than enough of anything. Let’s pick a few from the list and dissect them:

Clothing

I think starting with clothing is the easiest because I believe that literally everyone who reads this can take stock of their current wardrobe and pick at least one clothing item of which he or she has too many. Shoes, shirts, socks…take your pick.

We recently gave away 12 pairs of jeans. 12 PAIRS OF JEANS. There were jeans at the bottom of my drawer that I literally had never seen before. Whatever your definition of enough is when it comes to clothing, I hope we could all agree, 12 pairs is much more than is needed when it comes to jeans.

Food

There’s a lot that goes into the concept of enough food:

  • How much physiologically do we need to survive?
  • How much should we have stored for ourselves and our family?
  • Is it ever ok to have more than enough food?

It’s uncontroversial to say that everyone should have enough food to survive. The tricky part comes in the second two bullets. How much should you save? If you believe the apocalypse is coming, probably a lot, which would also answer the question of it being ok to have more than enough food.

Money

In a survey, respondents were asked how much money they would have to make for them to be considered “wealthy” by their own definition. Up to a certain level of income, everyone involved the survey responded that double their current salary would put them in a “wealthy” category. After that level where it was no longer double, respondents still listed an amount higher than what they were currently making.

This is an interesting outcome, as it indicates that we have a tough time ever admitting that we have “enough”.

Try the exercise yourself: In your own head right now, think about a salary that you would consider to be that of a wealthy person. Is it double what you make? Is it what you currently make? Is it less than what you make? When you do this, realize that a person who makes half your salary considers your salary to be that of a wealthy person.

Tying it Together

Back to my run this morning:

As I finished up my exercise, and took a cool-down lap around the park, I came upon a man who was just waking up after having clearly slept in the park. He was stretching up toward the sky, yawning, as he slowly began packing up his sheet and pillow that were his only visible possessions besides the clothes on his back. Startled, as I didn’t expect to come upon someone in the park, I said hello and smiled stupidly. He smiled wide, said hello in return, then gestured to the rising sun and said: “looks like it’s going to be another amazing day!”

I agreed, said goodbye, then made my way back home.

When I was writing this post in my head, before I encountered the man, I had a strict definition of “enough”. I planned to lay it all out and strengthen my argument and say why we should have this much food, and this many shirts, and this many x, and this many y…

But then I came upon this man. He looked satisfied and carefree after a good night’s sleep. He was looking forward to the coming day. He, by many of our definitions, does not have “enough”. He doesn’t appear to have a home, he doesn’t have many clothes, he barely has any possessions; and yet he looks happy.

If there’s a message, I would say it is this: the next time you’re unsatisfied with how much you have, know that there are many people out there who have much less and are still enjoying this life. This shouldn’t mean that we should necessarily stop trying to advance, to make more money, to buy more things. But every once in a while, we should take a step back and appreciate what we have.

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