The Priceless Elegance of Sufficiency
by Stephen Doherty
April 23, 2023
“Nothing is sufficient for the person who finds sufficiency too little.”
Somewhere in that misty alley between abundance and adequacy lies the Utopian mental garden of sufficiency. Because housed in this amazingly invigorated state of mind – is the powerful and liberating reality that you have enough. That you are enough. That every measurable silo in your respective life has reached a level of ampleness that removes need from the happiness equation. Once basic needs are addressed and enough grain is stored to remove panic and anxiety from life’s daily concerns, the ability – then – to give full focus to all of life’s important compartments, becomes possible.
There are three key elements that must be understood and embraced for this to be meaningfully enacted as the primary catalyst for happiness. The first is an honest assessment of the various compartments that make up our lives – the cylinders of the engine, if you will. The beauty of my premise lies in the amount of individual choice we have in identifying these crucial pieces.
There will be significant overlap in these areas as most lives are driven by a measure of constancy in these respective silos. These often include various forms and personal expressions of spirituality, mental health, financial security, emotional and psychological stability, social interactivities, etc. Yet blended among these choices will be significant variation in degree and priority. Some people will have a larger list and some a smaller one. The beauty is that each of us gets to draw the line on the respective buckets that equate to our own vision of sufficiency.
The second is the simple but crucial power we each have over defining what sufficiency means to us individually. How we then translate that to those respective compartments that make up who and what we are becomes the challenge. This is where the beauty and reality of the happiness equation lives. One man’s sustenance is another man’s sufficiency while yet another man’s abundance. The key to our best choice lies in our own personal introspection – and not in useless (and harmful) comparisons with others.
The third, and maybe the most important, is the self-discipline to embrace balance as the driving influence on the pursuit of your own happiness. The goal is sufficiency in all defined areas that make up who you are. In so many crucial ways – life is a zero-sum game that often inflicts painful debits in unison with acquired credits. The blind spot we all have, is not in the pursuit of abundance – but in the hidden costs of such pursuits.
A balanced approach is usually the most effective strategy in seeking and acquiring happiness. We’re all aware, in our own lives, of example after example of abundance being acquired in some parts of our lives while generating corrosive deficiencies in others. The pursuit of wealth and power often destroys more health, friendships, and family harmony than it could ever compensate for. Just one example.
We all spend our lives weaving the framework of happiness and contentment out of the thread of those sections of it we deem paramount. In the end, success in life can only be measured by the happiness it generates. I would posit that any other metric is futile and meaningless. In the end, sufficiency is a condition of being as much as is needed – in all of the areas of our lives that matter. Sufficiency is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, made more valuable by it’s fleeting nature. Attaining it is half the battle. Maintaining it, is life’s forever challenge. Pursuing it is what gives our lives meaning and purpose.
“Happiness belongs to the self sufficient.” -Aristotle