I wrote the title of this post a few days ago – the spark of an idea – but it’s taken a few days for the that first thought to find the words to express itself, which actually is the perfect illustration of what I want to write about today. It’s true, enough does need space (ideas do too). Enough (and you can read what I mean by enough here, here, and here) needs mental space – a pause, a breath – in order for you to see what enough really is.
We live in a world that glorifies ‘busy’, where multitasking has become the norm and convenience seems to triumph over all. But this fast-paced mode of living doesn’t offer the space that is needed to appreciate enough. In fact, the very idea of enough is such a direct threat to consumerism that instead of finding ways to take time out for ourselves, we let ourselves be sold to. Our need to take time out is commodified into wellness apps, or holidays or the whole “treat yo’ self” concept. (Don’t get me wrong – self care is super important, but not when it is commodified and superficial – but that’s a blog post for another day). Wellness and even mental space has become something that is marketed to us, a problem to be solved with product x or service y, but that’s simply not how wellness works and it doesn’t give us mental space. Wellness is about feeling whole and healthy and I truly believe that we can’t feel well if we can’t appreciate enough. And we can’t appreciate enough if we don’t have the space to appreciate it.
So let’s get back to this idea of space. Finding space – mental space – requires deliberate steps, and yeah, it can be hard to switch off the ‘busy’-ness and it can be scary to slow down. But by making those deliberate choices to give yourself mental space, let your thoughts slow down and actually open your eyes to the world around you, you open yourself up to embracing enough. To borrow Leonard Cohen’s metaphor, when you make that first small crack of space, the light will get in. And that light? It’s gratitude.
See, enough requires space first – space to even slow down enough to consider the idea of enough – but then it also requires gratitude. Gratitude for what we have, for this life, for the opportunities that we have to grow and change. It is too easy to get caught up in the rat race, the mentality of wanting more, of always striving and never appreciating what we have because we’re constantly looking for the next thing. We need to set that aside, make a conscious choice and say, ‘you know what? I’m good. I don’t need more right now.’
A side note on enough – Of course, some of us do need more, some of us are living without enough, and it’s important to acknowledge the privilege that we have if we can look around and say ‘this is enough for me’. You know, everyday of my life I have woken up with a sound roof over my head, food in the cupboard, knowing that I am loved, that I have a purpose to my day, and that makes me really privileged, I’ll not deny that and I am grateful for it. I am grateful for the simple things, things those of us with steady incomes who have always had our basic needs meet, take for granted. Everyone’s idea of enough is different, but it starts with basic gratitude that your simplest and most important needs are met.
Now, I feel there is every possibility you might read this and think ‘yeah but if you are looking around and saying this is enough, this is good what about goals and plans. Don’t you have those?’ I do, of course I do. But the thing that has really changed for me in embracing the idea of enough is the way I feel about those plans. My happiness is no longer contingent upon achieving those things. I’m not waiting for everything to be perfect before I look around at my life and say ‘yeah this is good’. Of course there are things that could be better but that doesn’t mean those things are currently bad. Balance and the sense of enough is something I actively create. It didn’t turn up one day and announce itself. I have to work for it, and you have to do that in the exact opposite way to what you’ve been taught. No more striving, I made (and continue to make) space, I let the light in, and I am so grateful for what I have – consciously and deliberately, out loud – and I remind myself that right now I don’t need more. I have enough, I am enough and this life I am creating is enough.