IS IT REAL OR IMAGINARY?
The theory of How Much Is Enough suggests that "enough" is an artificial creation misleading us into feeling bad about never getting enough. Indeed, "what is enough to make us happy" seems to always be expanding, as when I achieve a goal I then want more. I want much more than what I wanted years ago. My expectations, my "what is enough" line, keeps going higher and higher, always beyond my reach - and the gap is my "unhappiness gap". I can choose to be the proverbial donkey on a treadmill, motivated toward the carrot hanging in front of me from the stick attached to my harness - or I can choose to eat the carrot that I have, and to enjoy it.
Ironically, that pain, discomfort, the fears (of loss) attached to it all are a total creation of my own, totally unnecessary and rather stupid to "do."
This is, for me, my "enough".
THE HAPPIEST PEOPLE ON EARTH
It seems that the neuroscientist Davidson has come to the conclusion that the happiest people on the earth are Tibetan Buddhist monks. So, it seems, material goods and glamour and sex, etc., are not really necessary for achieving the purpose of life: to be happy. Thus, it would seem that if one is happy, one is not concerned with the aritificiality of thinking one is not having "enough" - for that very concern is actually the definition of "unhappiness"!
Since the monks are happy, therefore, the monks must have "enough".
AN INITIAL STAB AT ESTABLISHING MY BASELINE
What is it the monks have? (I ask this as a way for me to discover what could be "enough" for me, as a baseline for my life, above which all else is a mere optional bonus that I have no attachment [i.e. fear of loss] to.
A place to sleep, sheltered.
Clothes enough to be comfortable
Enough food somehow is there
A strong philosophy of life
The ability to do peacefulness meditation
So, do we actually "need" more to be happy?
And I notice that once the first three are handled, the last two are really the key of what to develop in order to be happy. Just those two...
GETTING IN TOUCH WITH WHAT'S ENOUGH IN BASICS
This seems like "expense budgeting" when I was an advisor helping clients who were too close to the edge. We set up several columns: Basic, Extra, Luxury and subtotals for those. Then we compared them to the income and how much we needed to save. Needless to say, the items of marginal benefit (the luxury items and some of the extras in some cases) were eliminated.
And the peace of mind produced was much greater than the "loss" of those extras which only had a fleeting good feeling that soon disappeared after the newness.
Analogically, we have the "income" called time and we get to spend it on what is of the most value and not on the frivolous.
Take a sheet, if you will and create three columns: What I truly need, what I would very much like, that is highly valued, and what is completely not necessary. List the items that would fit in each and the hours to spend on each, until you come to 168 hours a week. Note that you could live a happy life on less money and alot less TV and entertainment or luxuries. Or do something like the following.
WHAT DO I FEAR NOT HAVING ENOUGH OF - AND WHY?
"What do I fear not having enough of?" is one of the key questions. For me it is (or has been):
Having a car that breaks down and no flexibility to fix it.
The accumulation of mold in a cruddy, small, crummy, few windows, dark house.
There being too little to heat the house (kinda stupid as I could just bundle up to some extent, as my happy friend Judy did to adjust to a lower budget - but I noticed that I considered that a bit of a hardship, which I see, now, was not realistic at all)
Not having a friend, being lonely (one friend plus a brother and a sister is plenty)
Having too little money to buy decent food
Not being accomplished and admired sufficiently (this was a crock that I created, but
I thought that this equalled something to be loved about) - I have 99+% let this
go, seeing the thought as it crosses my mind as having no significance or truth.)
Not being safe, in a bad neighborhood
Which of these is purely a figment of my mind, a non-necessity, a non-satisfier?
I notice that I am far from any of those. that they are unlikely to happen. That I far exceed what I need to be ok - and that, above those levels, I need only do that which produces more and more happiness for me. I can just read good stuff and try to be around some positive good people once in a while (or as often as I like).
There is nothing for my primitive brain to be diligent about spotting in terms of danger (of losing). I have enough. I need nothing more. I can now only just go about, as leisurely as I want, adding more bonuses into my life, in terms of what actually produces happiness, not the erroneous misestimates that we are so prone to make as Americans.
THE BASIC "HAVE" THAT IS THE KEY
At the Option Institute, we were challenged to go out without more than the money in our pockets (and no credit cards) and establish a life that works. Most of us saw that it is not the contents but the willingness to create what works that was all that we needed - that we were "sufficiently" self-sufficient enough to create all that we "basically" really needed.. The plans we each formulated were very feasible - and it didn't matter that we'd "lost" everything else. Realizing that all we truly need, at the base, is our ability to use our mind constructively - which all of us have!
SO, MY BASELINE IS...
So, my Baseline 1, that which I require, I think, to feel happy, is, indeed, more like Tice Elkins stated a number of times:
Working at McDonald's.
Renting a small room (everything else is a bonus and not a necessity) - I'd make it
Using the library and reading and writing
Time thinking about life, appreciating it (noting all the things I am grateful for), and
devising ways to further enjoy it
Using public transportation
An emergency cell phone
I could create an ok life and be happy with that. I need nothing else, truly. Everything else is a bonus, which I appreciate, but by no stretch of the imagination do I need them in order to be happy.
In truth, it appears that I now see that I have a Baseline 2, which is higher, and it is more of what I would "prefer" and that I have a bit of attachment to the extras, for the pleasure and/or ease they give me.
A car that works reliably.
A friend to hang around with (female allows for more things to share)
Access to the internet and a computer.
Bonuses I am a bit attached to, but which I can do fine without:
Morning coffee with creamer (I don't really need this, but it's nice)
Looking out at a nice view (though I would otherwise just go to a park or similar)
A fairly comfortable car, convertible (2002 Sebring, 100,000 plus miles; could afford a luxury car, but there is so little extra value to me - I'd rather give the money to help someone)
IN TRUTH, I AM...
In truth, I am so far above what I need and have always been far above what I needed, that I need not fret nor did I need to fret all those times that I did, putting immense pressure (and at times unhappiness and stress) on myself for what I did not truly need.
I see that now. I see that I could have just lived a life of freedom, getting by on what I had - and having that be enough, for I am always safe and life is more than sufficient.