There is a lot of pain and unhappiness in the space between what we want, and what we’ve got. The larger the gap, the more uncomfortable we feel. Of course we live in a culture where ‘more’ has long been equated with ‘better.’ There is an epidemic of stress, however, and much of it stems from this philosophy.
In a world where we must go more, do more and get more, where is the space for enjoying what we already have? One of the best antidotes for stress may be to cultivate an attitude of “sufficiency.” Instead of looking around our homes and noticing what is missing, or what we could add, what if we looked through eyes of appreciation? If we decided that what was there was sufficient, think of how much time and money would be saved.
Imagine if one extracurricular activity per child was considered sufficient. Think how different it would be if the fashion industry, or the automobile industry changed designs only once every five years? In terms of consumerism, we are probably addicted to change and newness. But then we stop and realize that we have to work extra hard just to keep up with that addiction. So we work hard to make enough to keep buying, and to put something away for retirement, and we need lots there, so we can keep buying when we are retired. Maybe “retired” is short for “really tired” from working so hard.
Then we can think about sufficiency in terms of our expectations of others. There is probably sufficient within most of the people in our lives that we could appreciate them a lot, if we focused on those things. Funny how when someone is gone, it is so easy to see how much was there, and in those who are here, it is so easy to see what we think is missing.
Now comes the clincher. What if we could really honor ourselves, and see how sufficient we really are? If we stopped comparing ourselves to others, or to some external standard, think of the pressure that would be released. Think how much fun it would be to feel happy and fulfilled with the way things are right now. If we were told we only had a year to live, suddenly we would be clear about what was important, and what was not. That might be leaving it a bit late.If we try thinking in terms of sufficiency, perhaps that just might slow things down enough so we can experience the clarity of that distinction right now. How wonderful it would be to live in the light of that wisdom not just for a year, but for the rest of our lives.
Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning Psychotherapist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books or cds, visit www.gwen.ca