How Much is Enough?
Sometimes you see or experience things that demand an answer to the questions, “How much is enough?” and “What’s really important? In these times of pandemic and economic collapse, those are vital questions that require some thought.
I was reminded of these questions the other night when I watched a program on architecture. It was interesting. I saw a home that cost $20 million to build. The surroundings and the views were exquisite. The house, to me, looked cold, austere and uninviting. It had some redeeming features, certainly, but I would not want to live there. Again, I had to think, “What’s really important?”
The building to me was a metaphor for living. We struggle to buy the biggest and the best things available and discover that the emptiness is still there. We thought it (whatever IT was) would make us happy but it didn’t, and we have to start all over trying to find satisfaction. There’s a saying that goes something like this: “I worked all my life to climb the ladder of success only to find I had it against the wrong wall.”
We have been duped to believe that more is better, bigger is better, and we can’t be happy until we have it. “Keeping up with the Joneses”has become a way of life for many.
How much is enough?
Take a moment to think about what you want and how much of it would be enough.
How much money would it take to acquire everything you want?
How long would you have to work to earn enough?
How would you know when you have enough of it?
How much is too much?
A better question is, “How much is enough?” This question is followed by another one, “Do we really need MORE than enough?” Take a look at the videos below before you answer those questions:
If you reach the end of your life and you do or don’t have the biggest house, the largest bank account, the most expensive car, the designer labels in your closet (and on and on) will you have regrets? Again, how much is enough?
The 5 Things People Regret Most On Their Deathbed
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. …
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. …
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. …
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
In his book Resisting Happiness, Mark Kelly lists 24 things people regret on their deathbed. Here is his list:
- I wish I’d had the courage to just be myself
- I wish I had spent more time with the people I love
- I wish I had made spirituality more of a priority
- I wish I hadn’t spent so much time working
- I wish I had discovered my purpose earlier
- I wish I had learned to express my feelings more
- I wish I hadn’t spent so much time worrying about things that never happened
- I wish I had taken more risks
- I wish I had cared less about what other people thought
- I wish I had realized earlier that happiness is a choice
- I wish I had loved more
- I wish I had taken better care of myself
- I wish I had been a better spouse
- I wish I had paid less attention to other people’s expectations
- I wish I had quit my job and found something I really enjoyed doing
- I wish I had stayed in touch with old friends
- I wish I had spoken my mind more
- I wish I hadn’t spent so much time chasing the wrong things
- I wish I’d had more children
- I wish I had touched more lives
- I wish I had thought about life’s big question earlier
- I wish I had traveled more
- I wish I had lived more in the moment
- I wish I had pursued more of my dreams
It’s interesting to me that “making a lot of money, etc.” does not appear on the lists. No one said they wished they had acquired more stuff, driven a bigger car, or been known as a member of the socially elite. In the 80’s there was a popular saying, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” I don’t see that on either list.
What do we need?
Abraham Maslow lists our needs from the absolute necessities to achieving one’s full potential. One level builds on the one preceding it. Nowhere does he list the accumulation of stuff.
Perhaps we have it all wrong. Maybe it isn’t about having, but about being.
I’m in my eighties and I’m beginning to take a serious look at my life. I’ve had a lot of stuff. I’ve lived in big houses and driven fancy cars. I wore some designer labels and met people that you read about in the newspaper. But that’s not what is important to me now in my life review.
My mind ponders different questions:
- Was I kind?
- Was I loving?
- Did I listen?
- Was I generous?
- Was I honest?
- Did I reach out to help those around me?
- Did I treat others the way I would like to be treated?
- Did I walk my talk?
- Was I true to myself?
If I were younger, I would do some things differently and I would try to do more to help others. The world needs help now, more than ever. We all need to step up, to help, to serve. We are each needed.
The coronavirus continues to rage across the planet and none of us is immune. It’s time to think about what is essential.
People are dying. Family members may need help. What can you offer in terms of time and service?
People are starving. Does someone in your community need food? Can you contribute or help in food delivery? Can you donate food or money to buy food?
Homelessness is rampant. How can you help those who have no shelter?
It’s summer and it’s hot. Can you provide water for the thirsty?
Or will you look the other way and go shopping and buy more stuff?
How much is enough?