The Art of Being Enough

Picture credits: Pinterest

This post might just change your life. But more importantly, I want it to change mine. In other words, you can say out loud that I am writing this short essay for me.

Every moment of our lives we are striving for more. We want more achievements, more money, more friends, more social approvals, more gadgets, etc. It seems like ‘more’ is guiding our lives. We do not take a pause, look around and think if everything we have is enough. We are always competing: competing with our former selves is a good thing (but it should be done in moderation too) while keeping an unhealthy competition with others is an invitation to self destruction and no self satisfaction. Nothing is ever enough for us. You might assume contentment equals no progress. I disagree. Being content in life provides a stronger platform to get closer to our goals and dreams. People who are content in life find better ways to pursue new goals.

Wrong: Contentment= No progress

Right: Contentment= Better progress

My elder sister is a successful woman. She has a stable job which she enjoys a lot. Recently, she has purchased a car. These are considered to be the measures of success; just to name a few. I have attributed her success with her salary and possessions. They are the external measures of success and they matter. But she has a quality that I believe can be referred to as her “internalmeasure of success. I will call it “the art of being enough”. My sister is ambitious. She knows what she wants in her life and then she goes after it. That’s how we all approach our lives too, right?

I don’t think so.

What sets her apart from the many people I have met is her ability to stay content. Her ambitions are loud but they are not loud enough to keep her dissatisfied with her accomplishments and life overall. She is not trying to do ‘everything’. She does ‘something’ and she gives her best in that. She knows when things get ‘enough’ for her. I admire such people.

I often talk about gratitude in my blog posts not because it looks cooler but because I personally believe how important it is to be grateful in life. Few years ago I would say I wasn’t a grateful person. But that changed with time. Now I say it out loud that I am a grateful person and whenever life throws mud at me I try to remind myself of all the things I have. Still, I have this constant feeling like something is missing. I could say it is because I am an over ambitious person. Also, I am very competitive (please bear in mind that I try my best to keep a healthy competition). For the past few days I have been wondering about it and it crossed my mind how I can learn a simple skill of being satisfied and content from my sister.

Why so serious? It’s just life

I have always been serious in life and my sister has always been jolly and carefree. That way she enjoys her life.

Does it mean she is not an accomplished person? Does it mean she has no bigger goals and aspirations? NO. She is a very successful person not only because she is well educated, she has a car, a place to live and other essentials but also because she practices an art of being enough. She strives for more and better things in life but at the same time she knows when and how to put a full stop to her desires. She prioritizes experiences and having diverse experiences in life makes life more worthy.

Seriously, it’s only life. Why be so serious???

Ambitions can be a double edged sword

I know well enough the cost of being over ambitious. There have been profits, not going to deny that. But I have bear losses too. And those losses are realized only when it gets too late. I believe we must all have higher goals in life. Having bigger goals motivate us to realize our potential. Taking risks alongside is crucial too because without risks nothing changes; not even our circumstances. If there is no contentment everything seems futile. There shall be zero satisfaction.

 Is it a good life? A life where we have almost everything yet we tell ourselves we have nothing? I know that’s a difficult question because at the end of each day we want more. That’s a harsh reality. Even though it is a harsh reality should we just let ourselves suffer? Probably not.

Practice the art of being enough

It is not easy to go against our pre-wired biological mechanisms. It is not easy to go against our own human psychology. But that doesn’t or shouldn’t mean we don’t make changes.

Like my sister, I am trying to stay content in life. I plan things out. I imagine my future and try work accordingly. I keep higher goals for myself. In the midst of all this, I tell myself whatever I have right now is enough. With that little dialogue with me I start believing not only what I have is enough but I am enough too. When we start believing that we are enough we are much happier. That further motivates us to go one step further and further and so on and so forth. If only I am ungrateful for everything that I have do you really think I will be motivated enough to take a leap of faith and go for another goal? I will only be stuck with self-loathing and self-loathing is always our foe.

There are no limits to human desires and that’s the fundamental cause of our suffering according to Buddhist philosophy. I don’t think our goal is to eliminate our desires and become void beings. Contrary to that ,our goal should be to keep our desires in check and whenever we get a signal that our desires are getting out of control we should take a pause and reflect.

Important lessons I have learned so far- Part 2

Picture credits: projectsmart.co.uk

(Note: This blog post is a continuation of my previous post)

5. Less is more

Less is more.” Read that again if you haven’t quite understood it yet. Yes, ‘less’ is ‘more’. Words might sound contradictory but reality isn’t. Having less people around you, having less stuff alongside you, having less of everything is always better. Before you get all confused let me clarify a bit more. I used to believe that having more people around me was a good thing. It was never easy for me to let go off people so easily. That, obviously, had a huge demand on my cognitive resources– I had to pay constant attention to their needs, I had to pay attention when they needed help, and I had to pay attention to the fact that I wasn’t not ignoring them. In the middle of this, I wasn’t paying attention to the people who were actually worthy of my time. I wasn’t prioritizing myself either. My constant efforts to keep the relationship going weren’t recognized as well. So, I cut off all the compulsions I had set up for myself. Now I don’t have contact numbers on my phone beyond 20-30. I am very particular about investing my time on people who do not come under the radar of my social circle. I am not saying that I have become cruel or rude. I help people if they need my help. But I don’t keep any expectations. This has literally let me have a lot of peace in life. The same goes for material things. Before buying something, I ask myself, “Is this really necessary?” If not, I move on.

6. Prioritize health

One of the biggest mistakes we often make is ignoring our health and putting everything else first like we can manage to do ‘everything’ with our so called ‘good health’. Actually it’s just poor health if you are not giving it any importance. Compromising on health is equivalent to compromising on life. When we are young we feel like we have the most perfect bodies. We feel sickness can never touch us. It is true when we are young we don’t feel maladies affecting us but as we grow older and older we come to understand that our bodies are far from perfect. Actually, we further realize that our bodies were never perfect or well maintained. Focusing on our physical health is very very important. It can’t be emphasized upon more. While physical health should be a priority we must never forget about prioritizing our mental health as well. A sound mind is just as important as a sound body.

7. Don’t be on social media

Honestly, I hate social media. I am not available on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and countless other social media platforms designed deliberately to be addictive. Many might comment that I have a very weak will power and I do not know how to use it moderately. To such assertions I will retaliate that this idea is completely naive. People do not understand that these social media platforms have been designed very cautiously to be addictive. Those cute and vivid colors of the apps, without your conscious awareness, are playing with your brain and eventually you are giving them more time than you are supposed to. You do not realize that the red color you see when a notification comes on your Facebook account is a result of deliberate thinking by some experts. Moreover, there are constant unconscious comparisons that we make through social media and it takes a big toll on our psychological well-being. That is why I have disappeared from social media. That is why my life has become a lot more peaceful.