The Secret of Enough

First, the truth

If you are naked, cold, and hungry, and somehow you get shelter, clothing, and food, you will feel better. Providing for these necessities creates a qualitative change in life, and could even be said to, in some ways, produce “happiness.” You feel comfortable and safe. Your internal state-your state of mind and emotional sense of well-being-has improved as a result of these external changes in the circumstances of your body, the result of your having acquired some stuff.

Let’s refer to this as the “enough point.” It represents the point where a person has security, where their life and existence is not in danger.

Now, the lie or myth

“If some stuff will make you happy, then twice as much stuff will make you twice as happy, ten times as much will make you ten times as happy, and so on into infinity.”

By this logic, the fabulously rich such as Prince Charles or Donald Trump or King Fahd must live in a state of perpetual bliss. “Greed is good,” the oft-repeated mantra of the Reagan era, embodied the religious or moral way of expressing this myth. More is better. He who dies with the most toys wins.

Many of those Americans who lived through the Great Depression discovered in that time that “more is better” is a myth. My wife’s grandmother, now in her nineties and still living frugally but comfortably, owned a family farm during that time, and was able to provide for nearly all her family’s needs by growing her own food, burning wood, and making their clothing. Recycling wasn’t a fad to save the environment, but a necessary part of staying alive and comfortable. Now in her old age, great-grandma has enough money in investments and from the sale of the farm to live a rather extravagant lifestyle, but she still buys her two dresses each year from the Sears catalog, collects rainwater to wash her beautiful long hair, writes poetry, and finds joy in preparing her own meals from scratch. She saw the myth for what it was, and continues to be unaffected by it.

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