This topic is quite dear to my heart. I am asking this question myself for a couple of years now. Ideas that form my opinion come from the departments healthy living, minimalism, personal education and growth, and lifestyle.
When do I have enough?
This question is rather hard to answer. There are just so many factors that determine “enoughness”. Let’s talk about an example most of my readers should be familiar with: apps.
They way a lot of people in the community handle purchasing new apps is quite emotional. Buying an app is something people do very emotionally, shot from the hip. Apps are bought because of many reasons, one of which is pleasure. It is exciting to buy oneself something good. Look back at the days of The Heist. That was exciting, wasn’t it? It was a nerdfest extraordinare! My mother can’t find that pleasurable, but I did. I still do. I sometimes buy apps because I like that endorphin rush flowing through my blood when I finally decide I buy an app. On the other hand, an app is just five bucks anyway, so what’s to lose?
There are other reasons we buy luxury goods. We want to show yourself that we are worth something, therefore we buy yourself something of worth. We buy clothes that fit us. Clothes that show others how we see ourself, how we want others to perceive us. If you wear a suit, that shows others something about you. Do you wear a tie, a fly, or do you go without any accessories?
These are two reasons why having enough is a tough. With apps, they don’t take up any real space, only virtual. They take up even less space, considering the apps can all just be downloaded again from the cloud. Without taking up space, where do you draw the border where you have enough apps? Is there even a limit?
But it’s not just luxury goods that determine enoughness. Let’s talk about food. If you didn’t sleep in school you know that your body needs a certain amount of food, to create energy out of, to function normally. If you eat less than your normal caloric need, your weight decreases. If you eat more than your caloric need, you gain weight. How do you know when you had enough?
What’s so hard about “eating just enough food” is that we think that our brains are more important than our body. We look at a plate and eat it all up, no matter whether the food filled us up after two bites or not. We’ve conditioned our brains that the plate needs to be empty, or that we want that small piece of chocolate just do us some good. We’ve earned it, didn’t we?
Overeating, however, results in weight gain. Weight gain results in thinking you are not as good looking anymore1. So you think about limiting yourself. Suddenly you decide that the amount of food you eat is too much. You don’t have enough, you have more than you need.
Food is tricky because of the conditioning. Did you ever travel somewhere? Think about all the other people you see travel. How many do you know that pack an extra piece of food, just in case they get hungry? As if there is no food on the other side.
People fear they could starve. But starvation takes much much more time than an 8-hour drive somewhere. Your body can easily go 24 hours without food. Your scientific education should tell you that you don’t need the extra food. It’s not required, but for some reason our fear of not having enough is bigger than the knowledge that there is always going to be enough food wherever we go.
How much time did you ever spend figuring out how much of which food you really need to not starve and not gain weight? Most people don’t. I’m certainly not a master at this, but I spent time trying to listen in to my body trying to hear when it tells me that it just had enough.
Now let’s take a look back into our homes. We have stuff. We have a lot of stuff. Books in bookshelves, DVD’s, gadgets, tools… Our homes are full of stuff. Do we all need that many books? No, of course not, but some people like to keep many books because they feel they might need them at some point, or they are just nice to look at, they show other people how intelligent they are. There are many reasons why you would like to have more stuff than necessary.
The point here is that the level where something is enough comes so suddenly. Take books as example. One day we look at the shelf and are like “Why do I have so many books?”. The pain threshold has been reached at that point where we decide that we had enough, and now want to go back to having just enough.
Why we do all of this is clear. We want to keep balance. When we have more of something, it takes up more space in our life (quite literally). If something is so big that we can’t comprehend its space anymore, we get a desire to make it smaller.
Most of my shelves are empty. I don’t know how it all started, but at some point I wanted to get rid of everything. Screws, books, tools, gadgets. Stuff that I once bought but never really used. Stuff that I bought and used, but then kept because it could become handy in the future, but that future never became reality. Right now I try not to accumulate more stuff. Well, at least stuff that I don’t need.
My parents are a fantastic counter-example of myself. My dad looked at my shelves and said “you’ve got some space there, why don’t you buy more stuff?” Why would I want to, dad? Buying stuff not even because I really really need it, but just to make the shelves look fuller.
And that’s the point of “having enough”. It’s thriving for that point where enough is enough. The point at which you have eaten enough not to gain weight, but also enough not to starve. The point where you have enough books to show off your education, but also where they are not so many that you hate yourself every time you move.
Having enough stands for freedom and peace. Freedom of choice and peace of mind. When you made the conscious decision where enough is enough you feel free, in balance, and in peace. Makes sense?
Obviously the problem is to make that decision. Are you procrastinating it? What do you have to lose? What do you fear? Are you piling it up? Maybe you can make a Call Flow or Thinking It All the Way Through work. Do you see how all my posts come together?
Which is stupid, because our beauty standards is defined by the media which (photo-)manipulates our perception of beauty mechanically. ↩