Enoughness

Enoughness

I’m trying to develop a new habit, and I’m recommending it to friends. It’s a simple question I ask myself daily, and ideally multiple times throughout the day: How much is enough?

Getting clear on what’s enough is like a superpower. Obvious examples are meals — many Japanese people have the indescribably cool habit of keeping track, in percentage terms, of how full they are, mid-meal. The idea is that when you get to 80% full, stop eating; you’ll get to 100% simply by stopping at 80 and waiting as the stomach expands. And so you don’t overeat — you get the ideal amount.

Do you have enough clothing? If you’re like most of us, you have far too much. How about housewares and kitchen gear? Plenty, right?

It gets trickier when you consider more abstract things. Do you have enough love in your life? Lucky you if so. How about money? I read a fascinating article that featured a survey of people from around the world with wildly varying income levels, from truly poor to staggeringly rich, who answered the question: how much money would it take to make you feel truly safe and happy? Incredibly, almost everyone answered identically: roughly double what I have right now!

Humans seem have an insatiable need for more baked into our very DNA. I suppose that formula does make some evolutionary sense. But it really wreaks havoc with our serenity and sense of inner enoughness.

What’s really enough? By asking myself this question on a daily basis (or as daily as I can muster), I seem to become more aware of the whole concept of enoughness as it crops up in real time. Like any daily practice, it’s hard in the beginning. But a gradually burgeoning awareness of your true needs in any given moment is something that, I think, is worth cultivating.

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