How much is enough?
An answer to this question is not easily found when you sit and actually think about the answer for more than a few seconds.
In North America, we live in a world of more = better.
Despite all that we have, we live with a mindset of scarcity.
Yet, when I look around there is more than enough of nearly everything in my life; probably you too. A couple years ago I started the journey toward living a simpler life. I started with the physical stuff I had and did practical things like get rid of half of my personal belongings and then I didn’t buy anything new for myself for a whole year unless something I had broke or was used up and I actually needed it. I think I bought a pack of pens, two journals, some computer computer paper and a pair of jeans for myself that year.
I learned something interesting.
I still didn’t use or need everything I had; in fact most of it became a burden for me to keep. I had to store, organize, compile, dust, and trip over it day in and out – and I never used it. Guilt over paying money for things and then not using them as I had intended and hoped to was frustrating.
It is easy to see how we have too much physical stuff but we also have too much of other things – social media, events, news, information and expectation. There is a pervading sense that if you haven’t ‘made it’ by now that you’re a failure and the more we cram our calendar full of events and meeting with people, the better off we will be … the more likely we will be to ‘arrive’.
NOW seems to be the only time our on clocks and the pressure to do everything, be an expert on at least 14 topics, have an adorable family, work at a C-Level position in a niche company, run an online business that sends you monthly cheques in the mail and also sit on the beach while sipping beverages with umbrellas in them can and does kill your soul.
Learning to say no.
The ability to say no comes from having a firm understanding of how much is enough.
Everyone’s ‘enough‘ changes season to season but until you know and understand you have enough and need to do something with what you have, you will continually say yes to the detriment of your personal wellbeing, relationships, bank account and pace of life.
Six practical tips to help you figure out what your enough looks like.
- Make a standing shopping list clothes and personal items that you actually need. This can be done on your smartphone so it is always with you. While shopping if you love something and it is not on the list, leave it or put it on hold to take time to decide if you need the pair of shoes, cute dress, interesting crafting item, book, journal, picture for the house … the list goes on and on.
- Create a people matrix. Draw four concentric circles. Your name and your significant other or best friend go in the centre circle, the 2-3 people you want closest to you go in the next circle, friends and family you want to cultivate relationships with the next and in the fourth circle, people who you want in your life on a casual but consistent basis. Filter and make opportunities to spend time with people based on this visual. Adding in someone into the first three circles probably means someone already in your circle needs to move out of the circle. There are only so many people you can pour into and be in relationship with.
- Block your calendar. Open space in most people’s calendar is time to be filled up doing something else. At least that was true in my life. Create blocks of time for you to do things you love, be quiet and still, rest and slow down and . The response of, “So busy!” should not always be the answer when someone asks, “How are you?” And having an appointment with yourself is just as important as going to work – you matter too!
- Savour. On the days when I stop and smell the roses, everything seems to smell better. We can move so quickly through our days that we don’t take time to notice what is perfect, amazing, incredible or peaceful right now. Sipping a latte while letting the sun stream on my face, pulling over to watch the sunrise, picking up an autumn leaf and marvelling at the colours or snuggling under the covers for a 20 minute, mid afternoon nap are some of my favourite ways to press pause and soak it in. Deep, full breaths of wonder and gratitude accompany all of these activities and a satisfied smile is not far behind.
- Give it away. I love taking stuff I have that I know someone else would love and giving it to them. Making someone’s day by gifting them with my extra is a neat way to redeem having too much. It can as simple as giving someone a purse or as epic as giving away nearly all of your yarn stash to a 90 year old woman who knits blankets of many colours to bless people. The smile and joy you get from giving lingers in your heart and is an amazing trade up for stuff you didn’t need.
- Turn off social media. These past two weeks I have barely been on social media and guess what? Life has not ended and my brain is much more focussed on what is most important. Tweets, likes, instas, loves, pins and comments are all a lot of fun, but real life happens in the places and spaces you can touch, smell, feel and experience first hand. There is nothing to like, post or share that will give you a gold start in the striving to be enough race.
Once I started to realize I had more than enough in my life, I came to the realization that I was enough.
Maybe, just maybe, I don’t have to strive, push, scratch and claw my way forward. If I do what needs to be done every day, work to take care of myself and dream and plan for tomorrow life start to bloom like a summertime garden.
Today will you literally stop and smell the roses? Turn off the noise of social media? Look for places and spaces where you can rest? Find someone else to bless?
Want to know a secret?