To have enough is to be satisfied. It’s a point at which you consciously realize you have what you need, and you stop wanting, working, and whining for more. Remember the way it’s expressed in the Lord’s Prayer? “Give us this day our daily bread.” Enough. Sufficient. And if there is an extra loaf, we will share.
To never get enough of what you don’t need brings a desire to keep acquiring and accumulating. In such a state, you never feel you have sufficient (probably because what you do have is not bringing satisfaction and contentment).
Acknowledging When We’ve Had Enough
Why is it sometimes hard for us to reach a point where we realize and acknowledge that we have enough? Why doesn’t this happen more easily and more often? Is it greed that keeps me from the satisfying (and satisfied) feeling of having enough? Do my “wants” get out of control? That sounds like greed. Yuck.
Can you think of anything that you have a lot of but that you still keep collecting, purchasing, and acquiring? If I didn’t think you’d go overboard and hurt my feelings, I’d give you the names and phone numbers of a few friends who could keep you entertained for quite a while with a list of the things I have more of than I need. It’s actually quite embarrassing.
Here’s just one example. I figure if I’m asking you to ponder things that might bring some discomfort, I might as well open myself up and let you know more about me. The following was written by someone who knows me well:
You have way too many updated, outdated, and duplicated church publications; old clothing that has some sort of sentimental value attached (stuff that would fill at least 24 cedar chests); gifts people gave you through your whole life that could go to others or to DI; all kinds of things that are sentimental to you from missions, from the MTC, from trips you’ve taken, from friends from faraway places; 37 boxes full of every single letter anyone has ever written you in your entire lifetime—make that 57—maybe 157; probably 89 boxes of pictures (and no, that does not include those little boxes of slides or the slide trays); and books … I’m talking file-box size, 41 stacks 3 ½ feet high each of precious books—precious because they were your dad’s, your mother’s, another relative’s, or yours as a child; you have every single visual aid and the lesson materials to go with them for every single lesson or class you have ever taught in your entire life and for over 40 years of teaching missionaries or being a missionary; that adds up to at least 3 ½ tons of visual aids and lesson materials.
If you’re like me, you can rationalize why you have so many or so much of something (shoes, fabric, tools, coats, or whatever). “I save these boxes because I’ve lived in places where I didn’t have any.” Ha. That’s an excellent reason to keep so many things around. Sometimes I say to myself, “Self, having this many things is not helping a single other person on the planet! Get a life!”
Dissatisfaction—not feeling you have enough—is a very troubling feeling. It’s the feeling that you need “just one more.” Just one more pair of shoes and then I’ll have enough. Just one more CD, one more book, one more tool, piece of luggage, one more car … any minute now I’m going to have enough.
“There, there, little luxury…”
Let me tell you of an experience I had many years ago. I was thinking about luxury. “What is luxury?” I asked myself. I decided I’d make a list. As I look back, I think I was feeling that one of something was a necessity, but two or more would be a luxury. One was enough! So I started listing things that it would be a luxury to have two of.
I started by writing down “two homes.” That was a good place to start, as I considered my own definition of luxury. Two homes. Oh yes, it was working. One home was a necessity; the second would be a luxury. One was surely enough.
Two cars. Same thing. Luxury. I was getting it now! Two TVs. I was on my way to a deeper understanding of luxury! Pure intelligence was flowing into my brain and my heart. I couldn’t wait to tell everyone else what I had discovered and learned! Two this, two that. The list got longer and longer. I was on a roll!
And then it happened. A whispering—no, it was louder than a whisper—from inside. The still small voice, but louder than usual (sometimes that’s the only way I can really hear), was saying, “When did you stop saying luxury?”
“When did you stop saying that two of something was a luxury?”
“Oh … I did stop, didn’t I?” I knew from that familiar feeling I was getting that I was about to learn something that wasn’t necessarily going to by happifying. Do you get those feelings sometimes?
When did I stop saying two of something was a luxury? That was the question that had come into my mind. I wasn’t sure I wanted to think about what the answer revealed about me.
I stopped saying “luxury” when I started having two of something! It was probably the “two phones” place on the list. I could easily explain to someone why I needed more than one phone. More than two. More than three, even. As President Ezra Taft Benson used to quote, “There, there, little luxury, don’t you cry—you’ll be a necessity by and by.”
Oh, so it’s only a luxury when someone else has more than one, is that it? Wow … is that the way I think? Is that the way I live?
Here’s what I learned. Two of anything is a luxury. Two friends, two meals in one day, two “free” hours of time … it’s all luxury. We are blessed beyond measure. We are blessed beyond our ability to realize or count.
I began to think it might be helpful to take an inventory of what I had. Would this be helpful for you too? Don’t make this too big a deal, too exhaustive or exhausting. But would it be helpful to know what we have? What if we counted the number of shoes we have? Or the number of coats or tools or gadgets or unfinished projects.
Count Your Blessings
Here’s a pondering question I ask myself: “What really satisfies you? Of all the ‘stuff and things’ you have in your home, which of your possessions make you the happiest?” And then I think about it—a lot. What comes to your mind when you ask yourself that question? A new car? A raise? Winning? When it’s time to harvest the garden? Making something? You know, when I talk to myself about it, I conclude that it doesn’t take a whole lot to satisfy me. But is that evident in the way I live? Is it really true?
It may be useful, either alone or with family or friends, to consider ways in which Heavenly Father has blessed you both spiritually and temporally. It also might be interesting to share with each other your answer to which of the material things you have in your home (apartment, condo, tent) that make you happiest and most content.
Maybe you’re lucky enough to have grandparents or other relative or neighbors who have lived longer than you have, and perhaps it would be interesting to invite them to your home to talk about what was “enough and to spare” when they were little people.
Perhaps you can find stories from ancestors about some of their enjoyment as well as their challenges. And it might even be fun to discuss why you can never get enough of what you don’t need. Add to that the thought: “Because what you don’t need never satisfies.”
OK. That’s enough!