Living with less is enough

A notion struck me about a year ago. I don’t know if it could be called an epiphany or not. But it was like the movie Inception; an idea seemed to be deeply planted into the core of my being. It moved me to make some changes in my life, including one of the biggest: moving to a new home. The idea was: “enough.”

Before the idea of enough took hold of me, I thought that moving to less of something meant…settling for less, sacrificing my current level of comfort. And who wants to lower their standard of living when you could have more!?

I thought the idea of less would mean giving up things I was holding onto. I had an aversion to loss; I just couldn’t let go of some things I had or even things I wanted to attain. The idea of owning less seemed inconvenient and impractical; it made me feel uncomfortable.

Instead of having less, I thought the opposite – I would need more!

But in the end, thinking about the idea of enough caused me to see things differently. I began to realize that fewer things, possessing older or simpler things, could still meet all my needs…sufficiently.

Fewer things and older things are not lesser things; they are enough!

What I thought was less was actually enough. Knowing that, I became able to freely let go of the many better things I was holding onto without feeling loss or fear.

With that big turn-around, I felt a calming freedom, a kind of contentment, which allowed me to make a bold move to a new home. Only it was really an old home! It wasn’t necessarily a lesser home, just an older home. Not only that, it was a smaller home, but still, not a lesser home. In fact, it was enough home for us.

My wife and I with our 5 sons moved from our 1,500 sq ft home into a 1,200 sq ft home. We went from having two bathrooms to sharing only one – without even a bathtub for our 2-year old! Scary…but it works. Although difficult sometimes, it’s enough!

Don’t let what you want get in the way of what you need.

There are other big examples too. We need mobile transportation from point A to point B. We want the newest nicest car. Because for some reason a 5 year old used car isn’t quite as shiny even though it runs great. We need mobile communication to and from others. We want the latest fanciest iPhone. Because somehow anything less just isn’t enough to make phone calls and texts.

And because the fancy car and amazing phone cost too much, suddenly we don’t have enough money! Really? So then we finance or subsidize, hoping that we somehow will have enough money in the future, month after month, year after year of payments.

If you can sort out your needs from your wants, things start getting simpler. Not lesser. Simpler isn’t lesser. In fact, simpler is usually better.

What’s better really, to get more or be content with what you already have? We can look at what we have and be thankful and content. Or we can look at what we don’t have and think we don’t have enough, which means living in discontentment. This makes the things you already own (and could be enjoying) become disregarded and then discarded.

Just because you say, “No” to more doesn’t necessarily mean your saying “Yes” to less. Rather, you’re realizing that what you already possess is enough.

In a materialistic consumer culture, contentment is hard to come by. Like happiness, you can’t buy it in a store. If that were possible, I’d order it on Amazon with next-day shipping instead of 2-day shipping!

But haven’t we consumed enough?

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