The concept of “enough” has been on my mind a lot lately. When have we done enough work? When do we have enough money? When are we happy enough? All of these little bars we set in our heads about where things need to be lead to a lot of longing; that nagging fear of what happens if we don’t meet this invisible standard we’ve set in our head.
I choose the word invisible carefully, here, because it’s important to acknowledge these standards for what they are: non-existent. While I do feel that it’s good to have some modest level of achievement in mind, what’s not good is constantly imposing requirements on yourself and what you’re doing. It’s far too easy to concoct a story in your head about who you need to be, what you need to be doing, and how much of it you need. The more ingrained that story is in your head—of what you should be but aren’t—the harder it is to ever feel like you’ve done enough.
Earlier today, I sent a note to a friend who is traveling overseas. I asked if he was taking any pictures to which he responded that he was but they weren’t terribly interesting. After sending me a few, I felt confused. His photos were great! It was really neat to see the places he was visiting from his perspective. Following our little exchange, the word “enough” came back up in my head as I rode my bike to the park. I couldn’t help but ask “when is something enough?”
Enough is whatever exists right now. No expectations, no ideals, just right now. What do you have? Where are you? Who are you? That’s enough. If you get more, excellent. If not, who cares? We use ambition as an excuse for constantly pushing ourselves to reach for more and more, but I wonder, how much of it is really ambition and how much of it is self-deprecation? At what point does trying become a health risk?
Something interesting has happened lately. The less I try to meet some ideal, the more I exceed my expectations. If I simply say “this is enough” to whatever is in front of me—be it work, money, health, etc—that contentment by itself drives me to do more (or the same amount but of a better quality). In being content with whatever is here, you recognize just how much you already have. To contort the phrase “home is what you make it”: enough is what you make it.