Excuse me…is this where enough lives?

“He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough”
Lao Tzu

I often ask people to help me understand where enough lives.

How do you know when you’ve watched enough TV?

How much food is enough at a free banquet?

How much money do you need to have enough?

If you’d been to every continent on the planet would you have travelled enough?

When should you push the off button on your laptop in the evening?

How big is the perfect house? How many rooms are enough to live comfortably?

If you suddenly had every possession you’ve ever wished for would that be enough or would you soon need something else?

Unfortunately, humans are hard wired to search so we have a really tough time trying to answer capped questions. As soon as we soar to a lofty perch atop the tallest tree we spy an even bigger tree off in the distance that looks even better to roost in. Once we have spied ‘better’, we take often take unconscious steps to attain it immediately. Our failure to pinpoint enough explains why you see extremely fat people that carry a block of cheese in their purse or why an incredibly wealthy business person will continue to work themselves into an early grave. It also explains why you regularly hear of a family with a 20 room house who are looking for a new place with more living space.

I appreciate that I must search. It is my nature to search. The market, the internet, for a better life. My ancestors succeeded because they could search better than other species. Their exceptional search abilities were the reason they found safe shelter and scraps of edible food to survive. In our early history both were in such short supply that the search function didn’t need an off button. There was never enough and so they searched for more perpetually…or they died.

That’s why I can’t stop myself from searching, but I can refocus my searching brain away from searching for more.  Now I search extensively for strategies to live with less. This is a good redirection of my nature. Better than waging a war of willpower over the pause button. Living with less has let me engage my search functions on hyperdrive without destroying myself and half the planet. Enough is a mirage in the dessert. There is no water only shimmering sand and the next mirage glistening off in the distance. Stroll on Governor.

For the first time since childhood I feel content and happy. I have enjoyed the search for less far more than I ever enjoyed my life when I was chasing down more or more recently wrestling with enough. Our ancient brains are perfectly content living life on simpler terms. Why fight our nature?  We must retrain our instincts that were built to succeed in scarcity and adapt them to our over abundant world. Scarcity is no longer the problem that our societies face. Now our challenge is avoiding destruction by abundance.

All around us are examples where we are failing to adapt to this new challenge and this failure brings us ever closer to the annihilation of our species. Nature is a harsh mother to her dullard children. We must choose to grow, to change and to evolve. Our fight for survival is very simple. We must shift away from fighting against each other and work together. In nature species that compete do not thrive as prolifically as those that entertain a strategy of mutual aid and mutual support. The Fire salamander, Lamnoid Sharks, Lions and Bears tend to compete, fight and kill each other. The highly competitive creatures are so few in number that if listed they would be unfamiliar to all but the most enthusiastic naturist.  Meanwhile, Ducks, Ants and Bees are playing nice together and have taken over every corner of the planet.

If we turn away from selfish competition and stop capturing (and squandering) all of the resources that we can get our hands on and instead practice a strategy of mutual aid, mutual support and mutual confidence our lives can become richer. As a species we have thrived because of our sociability. It is only a modern contortion of life that has killed community and fostered competition as the basis of our lives.  Kill the corporate I say. End rivalry. Reduce waste. Let’s give, cooperate, share, and help each other…for all our sake. Only when we appreciate that resources are so abundant, that there is no need to compete, horde and waste them, and that we can better achieve our life objectives working with others will we finally realise what enough looks like.

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