What is Enough?
‘Enough’ is a concept and a resolve that we make for ourselves. It is difficult to concretize it and distill it into numbers, a specific quantity or a measure. And the amount varies from person to person. ‘Sufficient’ or ‘as much as required or needed’ is an elastic term – stretchable or contractible.
Enough is a versatile word and has multiple uses. It permeates a variety of emotions. It is a powerful term in our internal dialogue.
Let’s look at three very common and important usages of this word.
1.Enough to be happy
Happiness is a feeling that is to be experienced. It has become a commodity that beckons – weighed against more money, fame, things, followers, deals, the ‘best curated holidays’ ….
It has taken on the avatar of secret magic formulas that sit pretty on bookshelves; like the innumerable fantasies that we regularly chase –
- perpetual youth in looks
- the ever so desirable hourglass or six pack dhamaka figure
- the soulmate with whom we merge into foreverness
- ‘spill-over’ vaults in the banks
- power-packed performances at work
- progeny who will do us immensely proud
- …..the list goes on!!
We are the hunters, while our ‘preys’ are the elusive mirages that befuddle us. We need to conquer them, acquire them, own them. We seem to be so close;…. yet not there. And in all honesty may never be!
I admit that hope and a drive are great to keep us going, moving ahead. But should it be at the cost of dismissing and disregarding what is?
Being oblivious to the happiness present
The journey towards this ‘maybe goal’, towards more or better, can consume us so much that, we are often oblivious to our happiness that is walking alongside us; feeling rejected, abandoned, waiting to be hugged, slowly dying to be acknowledged.
We have placed our own blinkers so securely that, the beauty and comfort of our immediate surroundings are often invisible to us; And then, in all likelihood, when we get tired of running after this elusive happiness and tear off the blinkers – and seek the real happiness that was accompanying us – we find that we have actually lost it.
And then we are left with………?
Prathyusha, a woman in her forties, looked discontented. A stable job and marriage, two bubbly children, a solid roof over her head, annual family holidays to different destinations, a couple of close friends were not enough to give her the smile crinkles. Life, for her, was so ordinary, boring and routine.
She was seeking the spark of excitement. Only then would she be happy. And she waited….. Her children grew up and left the nest; her husband, tired of her ‘only ifs’, found his own avenues of amusement and pre-occupation.
She is still waiting…… to be happy.
Will that elusive spark of excitement, if and when it happens, be enough to make her smile? I wonder.
Is there enough money?
We have the minimalists who are constantly looking for things to discard, are not tempted by the ‘mega sales’ to stock up on whatever is available on discounts and are happy to live light. And there are the opposites, whose cupboards in every room are desperately obese, straining at every hinge.
Possibly, what many of us can never have enough of is hard money. How much is enough to feel secure, independent, safe, confident? With the bandwidth to splurge if the heart desires; to be a little reckless, even be magnanimous, philanthropic and generous, patronize the arts, set up institutions or an empire?
Our wants and wishes can be limitless.
A friend pointed out that we also need to calibrate our ego – to help us decide what is enough. Especially if the enough is decided based on a comparison with those around.
“My friends are earning so much and I also need to be there.” It can be a drive to work harder and also a trap in which we lose ourselves.
Prioritizing…that’s what is important. Where do we draw the line? It is a tough answer to give.
It also depends on how much money we are born into and what is ‘normal’ for us. But even in these categories ‘enough’ is subjective. We must choose what makes us content; and do it sensibly. At some point we need to let go of our continuous hankering for more and enjoy what we actually have.
2. Enough is Enough!
And then there is the other enough – when we need to take a hard decision and say, ‘Enough is enough! No more’. This enough too depends on the threshold level of individuals. So the amount of ‘enough’ varies. And the circumstances we are in, often determine what call we can take.
The choice is there, to decide how much we are willing to put up with, beyond which we take a stand, in whatever manner possible for us.
Rajat was a mild, good natured man who had become the butt of jokes in his office, which he took in his stride; because he was uncomfortable with altercations. He found his solace in writing.
This continued for a while. Some colleagues had found in him a soft target, with whom they were having, what they believed, harmless fun. “He is such a sport. He does not mind our pulling his leg a little”, was the response given when another colleague objected.
Soon the jokes became ‘not so benign’. Rajat’s reaction was building up but he had been quiet for so long that it needed courage to speak up for himself, though he was seething inside. He found his support in the one colleague who understood his plight and encouraged him to find his voice, saying he was by his side.
He finally found his voice.
During lunch one day he declared that he wanted to say something. Initially he was not taken seriously till his words penetrated the targets.
“I have nearly completed writing my book; and, my friend P….., I must thank you for being the epitome of generosity, by helping me create the character in my story whose only claim to fame is having enough fun at others’ expense, to compensate for his own insecurity. I wish you enough self esteem to grow out of this!”
“And my dear well wisher S……, you have shown me a unique aspect in communication – develop the knack of saying the harshest of things clothed in the sweetest of words. I hope your vocabulary and heart grow large enough, for you to have the words and the empathy to reach out to people sincerely.”
“And of course how can I forget my teammate G…… From you I have learnt the subtle art of soft manipulation, so useful to you in life to get your work done by someone else. I would like that you get enough feedback to understand that people are not fools.”
Rajat had drawn the line. Enough is enough. No more.
3. Not Good Enough
Most of us have set ourselves standards, some which we are conscious of and of some we may not be. They provide helpful boundaries and can be useful regulators in how we conduct ourselves in various aspects of life.
Stepping outside of these makes us feel uncomfortable. An indication that something does not sit right. And then we need to step back and do what we need to, to feel comfortable.
There are also voices that we may have picked up in childhood or later in life; of not being good enough. Does this actually mean that we are not good enough?
Good enough for what and by whose standards?
Who do we need to prove ourselves to?
We may compare ourselves to others and feel inadequate. Our self esteem or self regard may be low, we may feel incompetent – these are signs that indicate that we feel we are not enough. It may even lead to various disorders and anxiety.
We may believe that we don’t deserve support or help. It hinders us from trying something new because we don’t feel competent enough.
Sometimes, even when we get a compliment, we are unable to accept it without suspicions. Self blame and constantly trying to please people reiterates the belief that we are not enough.
And we will never be, if we cannot help ourselves get out of this loop.
Unable to accept ourselves as being enough, if we keep trying extra hard to be like someone else, we are often neither here nor there.
We rarely own the ‘good enough-ness’ in ourselves.
This does not mean that we don’t try to improve, grow, develop and flourish. To do this we first need to not berate, but accept ourselves; progress and learn in a way that is organic to us. There is the famous quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
So we need to give ourselves permission to believe in ourselves; accept that we have our own strengths and also areas that need working upon; and carry on from there.
So at the end of it all where do we stand?
Where do we move from here?
A hope for balance, perhaps. Experience enough trials and tribulations to keep us grounded and wise. Enjoy enough love and happiness, to keep our peace, faith and enthusiasm alive.
Create a mindset of Enough so that we are not left craving, yearning, pining, coveting for that mysterious something, which, in any case, will fade into oblivion in the greater context of TIME.
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