Enough is one of those concepts that seems deceptively simple. When someone is serving up a giant portion of something, we say, “oh, that’s enough, thank you” to let them know we can’t eat that much.
But what is enough?
According to Joe Dominquez and Vicki Robin, when it comes to money, “enough” is the intersection between being able to cover your needs/comforts and still having time and energy to enjoy them. It’s the point when to obtain more would have diminishing returns.
According to Brene Brown, “enough” is about sufficiency: “Sufficiency isn’t two steps up from poverty or one step short of abundance. It isn’t a measure of barely enough or more than enough. Sufficiency isn’t an amount at all. It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough, and that we are enough.”
Yet, we are collectively bad at knowing when something is sufficient. This may be an American culture thing, but let’s just take a look at cars. How many Americans drive giant SUVs designed for off-roading? How many actually drive off road. Ever. It’s like buying a mountain bike to ride on a paved bike path. If you’ve ever ridden a mountain bike on pavement and then hopped on a road bike, you understand the physics behind “efficiency” in a deeply personal way.
A road bike is enough for riding on the road. More rubber in big nobby tires, more bounce in soft springy shocks, more strength in a big frame all adds up to more work to go forward. If you don’t need to ride through mud puddles, over tree stumps, or up incredibly steep slopes, a road bike is enough.
But where we get into trouble is the day we decide, after having purchased a beautiful road bike, we want to try mountain biking. Soon, we have a mountain bike and a road bike hanging side-by-side in the garage. Now, when we want the mountain bike, the road bike is in the way and vise versa. It suddenly takes a certain amount of space and twice as much time to get the bike we “need” down and put it away again. Before we know it we’ve gotten so irritated by getting one bike out of the way to get the other bike down, we’ve given up on biking all together.
So, we decide both bikes are too much and we sell them. But now, we are not getting enough exercise.
I don’t actually know where I’m going with this, but I think the message is the same in all cases. Enough is a balance point. Whether we’re talking about money, cars, bikes, or our sense of worthiness, it’s a balance between what we think we need and what we’re willing to give up to have it.
So, how do we know we are enough if we don’t know where that balance point is?