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How do you define "enough"?

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I have a theory that one of the secrets to happiness is precisely defining our "enoughs".  We can so quickly and easily get wrapped up in thinking that we need -- or more accurately, want -- more, that it is hard to stop ourselves long enough to ask, what is "enough"?


It can apply to every area of our life. And if we neglect to define our "enoughs", then sometimes, maybe very often in fact, the resulting vagueness can shoot our happiness in the foot.


My husband and I are both pretty good at defining our "enoughs" and also at adjusting them when our circumstances change. We have a fairly good idea of what our "enough" is for housing, transportation, clothing, etc. and over the years, we keep trimming our requirements.


So it caught us both by surprise today, when no matter what I proposed, none of it seemed "enough" to celebrate my husband's birthday. We found a lovely restaurant that offers a FREE prime rib dinner on a certain day each month, for all the people who had their birthday that month. How fabulous!  We made reservations, and surely, that would be "enough", right?


Well, no, it was not. So, we found another restaurant that offered a FREE steak dinner for birthdays, but we can't make it there until later this week.  Surely, that would be "enough", right?


Well, no, it was not. Neither was all the presents, the shirts, the jeans, the barbeque. No, it was not "enough"!


Exasperated by my always loving and thoughtful husband, who actually makes an outstanding habit of being satisfied with life, I insisted that he define for me what he really wants for his birthday.  Is it a card, a cake, a big party?  Is it a gift I hadn't thought of?  A restaurant he hadn't mentioned?


When it came right down to it, he suddenly realized that he had not defined his "enough" for this birthday, and because of that, everything seemed wrong, nothing seemed to actually satisfy him, and we could have dined out every day, the rest of the year, to celebrate his birthday or bought him a Rolls Royce, but it would have never reached the measure of "enough"!


Then it came to him, in an AHA moment.  He actually wanted to have dinner at a little deli, fairly close to home, that has a special carrot cake that he loves.  On his birthday day, not any other day, which is nice, but just doesn't have the same zing for him. 


For him, that piece of carrot cake would spell BIRTHDAY in capital letters to him.  He didn't need prime rib or steak, or shirts, or jeans, or even cards or songs or parties, not even candles on the piece of cake.  Not even ice cream, which I would lobby for! 


All in all, he is a very cheap date for his birthday.  And I have spent a lot of money trying uselessly to make him happy with this birthday. But I think it serves as a reminder to me, and to us all, that it is worthwhile to ask ourselves, not only whether we have what we want, but whether it is "enough"? 


When we realize that yes, we do have, or could easily acquire, our "enough" -- or "enough" for those we care about -- is when the door finally cracks open to our house of happiness.  And our "enough" may not be anywhere near as extravagant or costly or time consuming as we think it may be!


Do we have "enough" health to be able to make it through this day?


Do we have "enough" food to eat this day?


Smile right now, if you have ENOUGH of the basic essentials to make it through this day, and you will be smiling, right along with me.



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This is so true, and I believe it takes wisdom and experience to get to this point. And sometimes a chronic illness. We work our lives away to acquire "things" and then we reach a point where the things don't matter.


It reminds me of a few months ago while at a gathering with friends and the discussion of a "bucket list" came up. There were talks of cruises and exotic vacations, desires to go to Europe and the like. A friend turned to me and asked me what my bucket list is. I replied, "I don't have a bucket list. I've done all the things I've wanted to do, I've loved and been loved in return."


THAT'S enough.



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Well, think of it like this, Miocean.  We had a holey bucket here, and tried to patch it over with carrot cake frosting. Whereas you looked at a whole pile of buckets, fresh and shiny with no holes, and decided you didn't even need one!


The funniest thing, after all our birthday angst, is that our day took a tumble and all our good intentions went astray.  We drove to the deli of my husband's dreams but he decided he wasn't hungry enough for it yet.  He thought a cup of coffee would fit the bill. And, a certain coffee shop would give him a FREE drink for his birthday, as he is a card holder. But, I had forgotten my cell phone so we didn't know where the nearest one was. By the time we finally found a location, it happened to be near a donut shop and by then, Gene decided he was hungry enough for a donut.  Score one for the donut.  Score two for the extra fattening coffee drink!  Leaving us both way too full for navigating any deli dinner or even just carrot cake. So he did not get "enough" for his birthday, but then again, we also got way too much, so much we had no room for dinner.


Should we start the No Bucket Brigade?  It sounds more sane, and simpler, than having to carry any Bucket list around.



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Hi Shelley and Miocean,


It's very interesting and true as it's so easy to become dissatisfied.


It rather reminds me of that fairy tale (stop me if you've heard this before) about a fisherman and his wife who lived in a hovel; he caught a golden flounder who turned out to be an enchanted prince (as you do!!  ;)  :lol: ) The wife insisted that the fisherman, in return for releasing the Flounder, was to ask it to grant him a wish as she wanted to live in a better house, which it did. She then became greedy and kept on asking her husband to go back to the Flounder and ask for more and more; each time he went back to the sea it was becoming more threatening and black. Eventually the wife's requests became so greedy and outrageous that the Flounder said "enough was enough" and they were back living in their hovel again! The moral being that if the wife had been satisfied with just a small improvement, it would have continued. :P


I'll be in the "No Bucket Brigade" as well!! :)  

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Joelf, I tried to stop you, honest I did, but there is no STOP button here!  With moderating functions we can do everything except fry eggs, and press STOP.


But it's a good thing I didn't press STOP, even if I could have, because I hadn't actually heard that story before. I thought you were going to tell about the spider and the frog. Or was it a snake?  I forget.  Anyway, I managed to flounder my way through your message. Many other folks must have read it too, for I just saw a hoard of people running down to the seashore now, in search of their golden flounder! Seriously. Honest!  Okay, maybe I'm just kidding.


I'm glad you have joined our No Bucket Brigade.



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This is interesting, because I find myself in the very same boat as mio.   I really do have 'enough' of everything that I can cope with.   I know that I have had a priveliged life and have been lucky enough to be able to have done most things I ever wanted to.   That is in a tangible way.  I have no bucket list, in true downunder lingo I've been everywhere man and have the T-shirt to prove it. 


I would quite like to have my little sister back with me but that is not possible.   I would like it if my brother and his family lived in the same hemisphere as we do, but that won't happen either, so when our kids ask what I would like for a gift on a special occasion I am inclined to answer 'nothing'.   When they complain that is not an option my choice is to have all eight of us together for a few hours.   We are only Mum and Dad, our daughter with a husband and their own three daughters, and our son.   Not much of a crowd but you wouldn't believe how hard it is to get everybody in one place at the same time.


Put me down for the "No Bucket Brigade" too.



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