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How Do You Know When You Have Enough?

I-am-enoughImagine this situation – you and I are out for a meal.

There is plenty of food on both our plates, and we enjoy a fine helping of our favorite meals. At the end, I finish my meal and I’m pretty full, but I like the look of one of the desserts on the menu and I’m thinking of ordering it. You leave a small portion on your plate, telling me that you’re full and have had enough. I’ve also had enough, but as I like a particular dessert, I’m going to order it. You don’t need to order a dessert because you know that your body has had its share of food for the evening.

Can you see the theme here? We’ve both had ‘enough’, but I want more whereas you don’t. I haven’t truly recognized that I’ve had enough, whereas you have. This difference is an example of the ‘desire for more’.

The ‘Desire For More’

If I were to ask you whether you knew that you had enough in your life and you didn’t need or desire anything else, would you say “Yes?”

Very few people can. Very few people have reached a point where they instinctively know that they have enough. The rest of us, the vast majority, still have wants and desires that lead us to wish for more in our lives, whether they be material desires, emotional desires, physical desires, or spiritual desires.

The desire for more leads us to pursue what we wish for, sometimes to the point of abandoning or ignoring other desires.

Our potential to focus allows us to ‘zone in’ on one particular desire more than others, but this can mean that we can become consumed by that desire. Instead of seeking a balanced lifestyle, we may become consumed with the desire to have more money, or a loving partner, or a holiday home in the Caribbean.

This can dominate our thinking if we let it, and we then lose our perception of the other areas of our life, particularly those that we already have enough in. If we are satisfied with our car, for example, then we may ignore its regular maintenance and seek out the home-gym that we desire instead.

Here are some examples of each kind of desire:

  • Material desires – A new car, an extension to your home, a million dollars, a holiday home, a new TV
  • Emotional desires – A loving partner, loving children, respect from your boss, praise for your work
  • Physical desires – Lose 10 pounds of body fat, being able to bench-press heavier weights, run a marathon, eating more fruit and vegetables
  • Spiritual desires – Forgiving those who hurt you, finding inner peace, releasing past attachments, balancing your energy levels, joining a religion

How Do You Know?

But what if we could truly recognize when we have enough of something and stop pursuing it? Like in the example earlier, what if we could know that we have enough and leave it at that?

Once we know and accept that we have enough, the desire for ‘more, more, more’ vanishes, and we can experience an inner sense of calm because we are content with what we have. But can we reach this point?

Here are some questions which I ask myself when I wish to discover my ‘enough point’. They help me to learn more about what I have and don’t have, and decide whether I need more or have enough:

  • Is there anything else you still need?

Look at what you have right now. Ask yourself whether there is anything missing that’s needed in order for you to feel that you have enough.

If you have recently installed a home-gym in your basement, is there enough equipment in the gym or is there still something that you need? If you have recently planned a summer vacation, will you be able to see and do everything you wanted or is there something else you’d like to fulfill?

Is there anything else that you still need for you to reach the ‘enough point’?

  • How much more do you actually want?

If you don’t feel that you have enough at the moment, decide what it actually is that will help you feel that you have enough. Go into detail and find out what it will take for you to be satisfied with what you have.

Going back to the home-gym example, you may need a treadmill and a rowing machine. Or if you want more respect from your boss, you may need him/her to give more praise in your monthly reviews. Discover what it will take in that area for you to say “I have enough”.

  • Can you survive with what you have?

Look again at what you have right now, and ask yourself a different question: “could I survive with what I have right now?”

Sometimes when we wish to have more, we fail to appreciate what we already have. We may wish to have a faster car when our current car is fast enough, or we may wish to lose weight even when we are a healthy weight. If you can already survive with what you have, then ask yourself whether you truly want more, or whether you’re taking what you have for granted.

  • Are you likely to use what you want?

Even though you may want more, there is no guarantee that you’re going to use it. You may even use it less than what you currently have.

For example, if you wish to purchase a new set of dumbbells, are you going to use them in place of the set you already have, or are you going to stick with what you’ve got? If you aren’t likely to use whatever you desire, then there’s no point in having it. When you desire something, will it be used enough times to make it worthwhile, or will it be rarely used?

  • How much comfort can you experience?

We seek out more and more because we wish to experience comfort and content in our lives. We tell ourselves that if we just have this or that, then we’ll live happier lives. But how much comfort will you actually experience?

If you install a new swimming pool in your home, is it going to give you that feeling of comfort you desire? Or is joining a religion going to make you feel content with yourself? Imagine what your life would be like if you already had that which you desired, and decide whether it will give you that level of comfort or not.

Can We Ever Have Enough In Every Part Of Our Lives?

I haven’t yet reached a point where I will know that I have enough in every part of my life, and I’m not sure if I ever will.

Although I have used the above questions to help me decide whether a number of desires were worth pursuing or not, I still have so many desires which I have yet to fully acknowledge. I still want more respect from people, I still want a better car, I still want to forgive those who laughed at my mistakes in the past, and so on.

Even if I fulfilled these desires, I believe that more desires will emerge from the back of my mind, and the cycle shall continue. I believe that we can look at every part of our lives and find desires for more.

But that isn’t to say that we should despair – I know so many people, like myself, who love fulfilling desires. It’s part of the human condition to achieve so that we can feel fulfilled, and I think we should encourage this.

We can still fulfill desires for the feelings we get, but we must be conscious not to become imbalanced. In order to remain balanced, we must fulfill desires for all parts of our life.

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