During and after moving house my thoughts have lingered on, “What is enough?”. This question is not new. It is something I think about and, often, with Ingrid discuss. This question is one we answer consciously or otherwise, with our daily pursuits. When will we ‘arrive’? In life and leadership, the question of having enough is aspirational and also speaks into the ‘daily grind’. Here starts thinking, again, on having enough stuff.
What You Have
As I intimated in the post, Here’s A Thing About Moving House, one of the ways of being aware of what you possess, is packing. Consider it a somewhat thorough inventory or stock take. Packing somehow forces you to clear everything out, whereas merely doing a list might leave some stones unturned.
So, because the move made it somewhat obvious, I see some of the (physical) stuff I possess. Not much in one sense but too much in another. All a matter of perspective.
Sometimes we say we either don’t have much or anything because it is not what we want to have.
Though I don’t consider Ingrid and me wealthy, in a number of ways we have more, either by way of knowledge, resources, awareness and a level of access to some opportunities. Back to the (physical) stuff.
How Much Is Enough?
We (all of us) answer this question in different ways. This is not to be confused with being content. We could adopt a, “I will have enough when or if _____” kind of attitude or approach to life. This is probably one of the most torturous ways to live. Agony. This is because we rarely get everthing on all our terms.
Jeff Shinabarger, in his great book More or Less shares some enlightening experiences on the journey to having enough stuff. It is possible that the recent moving house experience triggered some thoughts that were inspired the book. I recommend it; give it a read.
We make a mistake to think we’ll be content ‘when’ or ‘if’. Being content is not about circumstance or stuff but our attitude. Waiting for circumstance to align perfectly to our preferences guarantees we’re never going to be content.
Being content is not about circumstance or stuff but our attitude (Click to Tweet)
While having enough stuff is an attitude, there are practicalities to consider. These practicalities, of course, are not to do with what we may consider as ‘basic needs’. Before going further, I need to say this:
I’m not against having stuff. I like to have some of the latest tech, and gear; some of it rather costly. Not all of it is necessary to my survival but it is nice to have. Some of these things make life easier, while some of it is for entertainment. Fun and enjoyment. I’m also not against people getting stuff and things they would like.
All I’m talking about is attitude toward having enough and living a content life if we / I never got everything we / I wanted, when and how we / I wanted it. On to the practical stuff.
The Practical Stuff – My List
I’ve started to think about the bare minimum. How much furniture do we need to be ‘comfortable’? Tech / gadgets? Change of clothes? Shelter and living space?
Anyways, this is just a rough first draft… For the purpose of this post, I’ll use clothing as an example. However, this is an exercise I’ll be doing with other kinds of stuff. Here goes:
Something I’ve noticed with clothes is that I have clothes that I rarely wear. Somehow I like particular clothes because I think they look better on me and are comfortable. The other reason I wear some clothes more often is that I just don’t like the ones I have. (I’m very aware that this is a privilege I have and that there are many who don’t have it).
I have fairly new clothes I’ve worn little and resolve to give them aware to people who don’t have and need. Some clothes I haven’t worn for more than a year; yikes.
- Everyday wear: these would be clothes I generally wear everyday. How many changes of clothes do I need?
- Formal: there is the odd formal occasion one needs to attend. I guess I should have something in my wardrobe for those.
- Sport and fitness: I run and play squash. Am toying with playing cricket again, so that’s also something to think about. I will need some clothes for this.
- Home: you know when you’re home? Those comfortable, I’m chilled clothes? Gotta have some. Again how much is enough?
- Seasons: how can I have enough clothes for the season? Maybe I need to consult a fashion stylist about having a few or ‘enough’ clothes that I can wear throughout the year.
- Shoes: I need to have the appropriate shoes as well. Have to factor in my flat feet, especially for more strenuous activity. How much?
On Having Enough Stuff – Outro
After creating this (ongoing) list and going over it, I decided to get rid of some things. Clothes, books, and furniture, for now. The furniture we (Ingrid and I) decided to get rid of partly has to do with the amount of space we have. Some constraints will challenge you to rethink what you have and how to use what you choose to keep.
Having enough stuff is part attitude; that is, being content. Being content is not necessarily saying you’re happy not to get more or better. It is simply saying, “If I never had more or better than this, my life would still be great. The things I accumulate or own are not what determines my joy and peace in life.” Being content is about being at peace with who you are and what you have.
Being content is impossible without gratitude for what you already have (Click to Tweet)
On the other hand, it is also worth thinking about where you are and your means. It might lead to drawing up a list like I’ve started. You don’t have to think through things like me. Do it your way.
Would love to know your thoughts on having enough stuff. Want to do a similar exercise? Let me know how you go about it? Have you done it and blogged / documented it? (share a link). Ta.