What Is "Enough"

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I have been reading “Your Money or Your Life” by Joe Dominguez and Vicky Robin. It is a good book, especially if you want out of your job or want a financial plan to help you pursue your goals and get out of debt. One thing the book does well is put the money that we spend and earn in terms of our “life energy,” which sounds new age-y, but is actually practical. When you spend most of your life earning money, you are trading that time–which you can never get back–for the money. So the things you buy better be worth it!
I had thought about most of these concepts before, but one thing the book did put into perceptive for me was the concept of “enough.” I always seem to be trying to get to a place of balance with my possessions where I had exactly the right amount, neither too many or too few things. In the past, I have tried to articulate why I am so preoccupied by this concept, and the book put it into perspective for me. Without realizing it, I have been trying to get a to a place of “enough,” that is, a place of fulfillment. From Your Money Or Your Life:

The word is “enough.” … Enough for our survival. Enough for comforts. And even enough little “luxuries.” We have everything we need; there’s nothing extra to weigh us down, distract or distress us, nothing we’ve bought on time, have never used and are slaving to pay off. Enough is a fearless place. A trusting place. An honest and self-observant place. … It is a place of alertness, creativity and freedom.

So that is what it is! The next question is, how do you know when you go past “enough” into the range of “too much”? Simple. You start to get clutter.

Clutter is anything that’s excess — for you. It’s whatever you have that doesn’t serve you, yet takes up space in your world. To let go of clutter, then, is not deprivation; it’s lightening up and opening up space for something new to happen.

This explains why clutter is so annoying. It is the opposite of peacefulness. Think about how the presence of clutter nags us to organize it, clean it, repair it. When we see it, we often feel guilty about the wasted money or the mess it is making. Clutter is subtly oppressive, which is why it feels so good to get rid of it.
And, turns out, there are many forms of clutter in our lives.

Once you catch onto what clutter is, you’ll find it everywhere. Isn’t meaningless activity a form of clutter? How many of the power lunches, cocktail parties, social events and long evenings glued to the computer or TV screen have been clutter–activities that add nothing positive to your life? What about disorganized days, full of busyness with no sense of accomplishment? … Unplanned errands are often clutter–running to the store twice a day for items forgotten on your weekly shopping. Hobbies are clutter-intensive when the ratio of what you have to what you use climbs–like the photograph buff wish suitcases full of lenses and filters who get their best shots with a pocket digital.
As your awareness of clutter deepens, you’ll be inspires to spring-clean your whole life.

Where do you have clutter in your life? For me, it’s a very physical thing called the guest room closet!

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3 thoughts on “What Is "Enough"”

  1. That is exactly why I get so focused on getting rid of clutter and get obsessive about it if I can’t. I am a naturally peaceful person and clutter really throws me off. I’m usually pretty go-with-the-flow, but if there is extra stuff in my house it bothers me. Right now my kitchen is filled with clutter and I don’t have anywhere to put it.

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  2. You might consider reading “Radical Homemaker” by Shannon Hayes if you haven’t already. I found your site tonight in a Google search to fine tune my cottage cheese making.

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