Enough as a teaching has always been rooted both in spirituality and in pragmatism. Spiritually it’s releasing from what Buddhists call “the hungry ghost” – that aspect of self that is always trying to incorporate more from the outside to satisfy a spiritual emptiness. - Vicki Robin
I sat on the sun-warmed dirt in a field thatched with wild strawberries, my face, hands and t-shirt smeared and speckled with juicy redness. Eyes closed, my little tummy sated and my greedy desires quenched. At 5 years old, I rarely stopped myself from anything and had no definition of “enough.” Even though I learned before that on the walk home with my sisters, the skin on my stomach would develop a rash that burned and itched, I had ducked out of the house and followed them, avoiding my mother’s attempts at control. I wanted what I wanted – the sweet delight on my tongue, to have as much of pleasure as I could bear. I ate myself sick because the enjoyment of the journey was worth it. And because my family was so unhappy, I was attracted to anything that gave me joy.
Maybe it’s because I was a greedy little girl that now I’m so invested in reforming my consumeristic ways. Although I’ve traveled pretty broadly, coming of age and living in the U.S., I know I lack some data, some sense of scale, as I wrestle with how I determine what is”Enough” in my life – enough money, enough stuff, enough insurance and other forms of stability-seeking. I’m aware that we Americans constitute 5% of the world’s population but consume 24% of the world’s energy. I’m also trying to do this work without using the cattle prod of guilt. How can I stay clear and conscious and motivated? Here are a few fundamentals I practice:
- Nurture my self-esteem and confidence. I still notice that when I’m going to an event where I won’t know a lot of people or feel uncertain, I want something new to wear. It’s as if I need a suit of armor or some kind of “comfort blanket” in order to show up in an unknown environment. If instead, I pamper my body a bit, put together an outfit I like out of clothes I already own, and spend some time breathing and mentally centering myself before entering the event, I’m good to go. My connections and reputation are not based on acquisitions, but on the substance of who I am. One of the keys to outgrowing our dependence on consumerism as a crutch for identity and status is grappling with our own insecurities.
- Fulfill my pleasure quotient. InterPlay has taught me to “notice the good” in a very embodied, sensory way and to have more of it. The Slow Movement is encouraging us in this direction also – slow down and sensorily experience your environment, food, conversations, musings. Fill yourself up with the pleasures of the moment and the day. When I’m “full” in this way, I find that acquisition is not very important and I’m even more willing to identify and release what I have more than enough of.
- Enjoy more than enough friends. Whenever I’m with friends, I’m one of the richest women in the world. We have so much together – creativity, laughter, support – and are willing to share what we own. This weekend a bunch of us are doing the annual clothes swap, including potlucking and much playful making up of outfits. Afterwards, the collected clothes, accessories and household items are taken to various women’s shelters and dress-for-work programs. We never have to decide how many friends is Enough.