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The joy of enough

Do you know when to stop? When to say no another meeting? When to walk away from the lucrative project? When to turn down the chance to enter your 4th marathon of the year?


Many of us are caught in a spiral of wanting more. In a relentless pursuit of bigger and better, newer and shinier, faster and stronger.

But what if there was another way? What if content wasn’t a bad word. What if we could have just be and have ‘enough’?

It’s something Wayne Muller talks about in his book ‘A Life of Being, Having and Doing Enough’.

We’ve forgotten what enough feels like, as Muller puts it: “We live in a world seduced by its own unlimited potential. We are driven by a presumptive grandiosity that any economic, social, or political limitations can seemingly be overcome with more speed or technology.”

But our limitations remain constant. No matter how strong our intentions are, we find that “the finish line seems farther away, the bar keeps rising, nothing is ever finished, nothing good enough.”

We’re seemingly under pressure from all sides to work more hours, to earn more money, to achieve more, and to better ourselves. From family, friends, colleagues, peers, bosses, leaders, the media, the community, the sector.

Striving to be more, have more, and do more is exhausting and overwhelming. So how can we stop the pressure from being heaped on us?

The buck stops with us

As Muller says: “Enough is ultimately an inside job.”

We can’t control the actions or opinions of others, but we can control how we respond to the pressure put on us by a work harder and work longer culture. 

How do we know when we’ve done enough, when we have enough, when we are enough? It all begins with us. By showing ourselves kindness and acceptance.

So how can we start to appreciate the joy of enough?


The first step is to reset your self-perception. If you don’t tick everything off your list for the day, it’s fine. If your plans and goals are derailed, it’s also fine. If you don’t have as big a house, car, business as your contemporary, it’s fine. If you haven’t beaten your PB this month, try not to beat yourself up.


Once you’ve started on the road to kindness and self-acceptance it’s time to reflect on the things that really matter. To know when you have enough, you need a solid understanding of the things that bring you – and those that matter to you – true happiness.


Now is the time to refocus your plans and goals around those things that matter. When your sense of self-worth is built on internal drivers and not external influences you will learn to recognise when enough, really is enough.


The path to authentic happiness

Muller writes that authentic happiness is not seeing the glass half-full, it’s recognising that in reality it’s always half full and half empty. The world is neither broken nor whole, but eternally engaged in rhythms between joy and sorrow.

If we learn compassion and mercy for ourselves and take some time to explore what is authentically enough for us, we can begin to experience a life of natural ease. It’s not an easy life, or unfulfilled one, but one that focuses on what really matters. And surely achieving those goals is truly enough?