Learning to Cultivate ‘Enough’

Have you ever contemplated if you have enough?

Enough money, enough time, enough stuff, enough gratitude?

The concept of enough is a difficult concept to pin down. It’s something that cannot be quantified, but instead can only be felt. There is no definitive standard of enough, it is unique to each and every person and it often changes over time. Furthermore it is rarely discussed in mainstream media, which prefers to look at the extremes — extreme wealth, extreme extravagance, extreme discipline, extreme effort. An article will get more clicks if it presents someone making millions, rather than someone making enough. At the other extreme, more attention is given to the titles of ‘ living with only 5 pieces of clothing’ rather than something entitled ‘ living with enough clothing ‘.

But while we might enjoy reading the articles describing extreme outliers, we shouldn’t strive to be like them, instead we should use them as examples to help us find our version of ‘enough’.

Minimalism as a way to enough…..

We often have ideas of where we want to go in life and what we want to have. But once we acquire these things the baseline moves and our goals often become bigger. This can be called lifestyle inflation or lifestyle creep, and it’s often related to how one’s spending increases when their income goes up. What once was perfectly comfortable for you, now becomes unthinkable because the baseline and circumstances have changed.

It is usually when our lifestyle costs are increasing that we forget to consider what is actually enough for us, and instead choose to chase more. Some people end up in this trap forever, always chasing something else, be it a salary increase, a bigger house, a better car etc. Luckily many people tire of this, some through burnout, others through personal realisations, and many (especially those reading this article) find a way out through minimalism.

Minimalism asks us whether we need more, or if we could do with less. And this can be incredibly liberating. Life changing even. Through minimalism we are offered a framework that allows us to stop chasing and grasping for more, and instead asks us to stop and look at where we actually are, and then to remove what’s not needed, to create more space in our lives.

Cultivating ‘enough’ through minimalism

The pursuit of less aims to remove clutter and unnecessary possessions to create more freedom, space and time. However in the pursuit of less the concept of enough is often missed and instead extremes are chased. From owning just 99 items or the perfect capsule wardrobe of 30 pieces, the numbers can start to matter more than the purpose. If 102 items make you feel in abundance and having enough then that should be the aim, not getting your possessions down to double digits.

The minimalism trend of sleek white spaces void of any personal objects is not what true minimalism is about. It is about regaining time, energy, money and ultimately freedom. The true goal of minimalism is to reach enough — whatever that looks like for you. It is about cultivating a feeling of completeness and gratitude, and this doesn’t come from having a capsule wardrobe of 30 pieces, but from letting go of the things you don’t need and not needing more… it comes from being content with what you have and then letting go of their control over you… it is about feeling enough.

“It is preoccupation with possession, more than anything else, that prevents men from living freely and nobly.” — Bertrand Russell

Cultivating ‘enough’ through personal finance

Evaluating the concept of ‘enough’ is even more important when it comes to personal finance because, can we ever really have enough money?

Usually we can pick a number that we would consider is enough. It may be $1 million or $5 million, it could be more or less. But for many of us, even if we saved, invested or earned that amount, it would still feel like it wasn’t quite enough.

There is the famous story about how Kurt Vonnegut teased his friend Joseph Heller at a billionaires party in the 70’s, saying that the billionaire earned more in a day than Heller’s bestselling book ‘Catch-22’ ever will. Heller calmly responds with “ yes, but I have something he will never have…… enough “.

Heller has enough because enough doesn’t come from money, enough is not a number. Instead enough is a feeling. It is gratitude for everything you already have and everything you have worked for… it is striving to do a better job at work instead of striving to just earn more… it is a feeling of security within yourself and through your skills… it is contentment with where you are right now and where you are going.

The feeling of enough is worth more than any number, and can be cultivated at any point in time. Getting to $1 million will not allow you to feel like you have enough, if you have not cultivated the feeling along the way. An arbitrary number in your bank account will not generate the feeling of having enough, in fact it might not actually change anything.

Enough is a synonym of gratitude

“What difference does it make how much there is laid away in a man’s safe or in his barns, how many head of stock he grazes or how much capital he puts out at interest, if he is always after what is another’s and only counts what he has yet to get, never what he has already. You ask what is the proper limit to a person’s wealth? First, having what is essential, and second, having what is enough.” — Seneca

In our search for enough, we often stray further away from it. This is because we are searching for it, as if it was something outside of ourselves, to have or to find. But in reality it is something to cultivate from within and it is available right now.

Instead of thinking that we need more (money, time, square footage) or less (clothing, distractions, possessions) we should consider what we already have, and spend time being grateful for this. We should try to consider what enough looks and feels like for us, and we should try to cultivate it every day. Because if we are able to cultivate the feeling of enough, we will be richer, happier and lighter than ever before.

Originally published at https://jotheminimalist.com on May 2, 2023.



Laura is writing....
Change Your Mind Change Your Life

Passionate about personal development, journalling, planning and goal setting. Founder of Giftofayear.com