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How to say Enough?

Updated on January 27, 2014

Enough - Breaking Free From the World of Excess

John Naish's 2008 book provides a spot-on answer to the burning question: how to say enough?

In the world of ever-more, Enough is a guide to the art of saying (what else?) ENOUGH! Enough data. Enough food. Enough work. Enough stuff. We have more than we need and chasing for one more crock of gold at the end of the rainbow can only land us in trouble.

Surprisingly (or maybe not...), saying enough is a problem to many people. John Naish explores why, explaining how our very brains are our opponent in the fight for contentment. Luckily, this is only the beginning. He also provides a spectrum of tips and life-hacks designed to teach us how to say enough. It's not easy, but it can be done!

Why I chose to read Enough?

I am addicted to non-fiction social criticism books. Things are not exactly well on the Spaceship Earth and I find inspiration in reading books by people who agree. If they also propose solutions, that's an added bonus, although I doubt if any one person can save the world by providing The Perfect Answer to the Society's Ills. I cheer those who try, if they talk any sense, and so far I've gone through tens of books on some of my favourite topics - overconsumption, overeating, overspending, overdevelopment*.

I bet you can see the pattern emerging. I deeply believe that we do have enough of pretty much everything and dreaming of forever more is not the wisest policy.

No surprise then that once I saw the big, bold ENOUGH on the bookshelf I didn't hesitate long before grabbing the title. Hey, could John Naish be someone who shares my sentiments?

Yes. Three times yes.

If I were to write a book at this stage of my life, it would be very similar to Enough - similar in content, tone and general message. Ladies and gentlemen, that guy is reading my mind! Or maybe I am reading his. Or, perhaps, the fact that we have enough and more can only hurt us is obvious to a growing number of people.

I really do hope so.

* I've read all the books I'm recommending on this page and, no need to add, found them worthy. Browsing through the titles - or my book blog, Bookworm's Cave - should be enough to persuade you that I really am a big fan of social criticism aimed at over-anything.

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What's so special about Enough?

Enough
Enough

That's easy: John Naish managed to tackle all the areas where we tend to overindulge and fit his findings within one book of unthreatening size.

Overeating. Overwork. Over-buying. Information overload. Overtaxing Earth's resources. Overwhelming potential customers with too many options. Truly, Enough is a perfectly suitable title for this book. It is easy to find titles analysing any of the above problems on its own, but this is the very first (that I've seen) that confronts them all.

 

Enough sermons!

Language of Enough

One of the most compelling features of Enough is its language. Naish is not out to deliver a sermon, or force you to do exactly-what-he-says. He (quite correctly) assumes that humour will get his message further than fire and brimstone warnings.

True, images of carbonized Earth are present in his narrative, but even those pictures are delivered with a bittersweet wink. At our current rate of consumption, NOT including such visions would be naive.

Gently preachey notes can be detected towards the end of the book (perhaps a deadline was approaching?), but they are not strong enough to poison the pleasure of reading this overall delicious and thought-provoking publication.

Throughout most of the text, Naish talks like a human being - an ordinary guy who tries to make sense of what is happening around him. He jokes, worries, asks questions, shares cameos from his life. I find such an approach to storytelling far more likeable than dry, puffed-up ramblings by the so-called 'experts'.

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Enough food

There's more overweight and obese people in the world than the undernourished. That means that some of us (let's face it - many of us) are gorging on enough calories to make us sick, while others starve. A highly ironic picture.

More than one third of US adults are obese (according to this study), with the rest of the world working hard on matching the sad statistics. Food industry's priorities focus on increasing profits of shareholders, not health of customers, with the predictable result of marketing machine geared up towards pushing mountains of fattening food on gullible victims (see Michael Moss's Salt Sugar Fat below).

This is not a pretty picture, especially that obesity is not only about aesthetics. It is a serious health problem. Diabetes and cancer top the list of diseases you are more likely to get if you're overweight, but the list is long and includes many more ailments.

A full chapter of Enough is given over to the analysis of our food cravings and to the all-important questions: why do we eat so much? How our environment influences out diets? Last, but not least, what can we do about it?

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Enough food - further reading

Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

This book managed to put me off fast food for life. I am only grateful to Eric Schlosser for writing such a blood-chilling report on fast food history, production and effects.

 
Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us
Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

Salt, sugar and fat in large quantities are not good for us and yet they are the main ingredients in most processed foods today. Michael Moss explores this paradox.

 
In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

Does food need defending? Depends on how you define the word 'food'. In the Age of Supermarkets, Michael Pollan's definition is probably quite unique.

 

Enough work

More time spent in the office does not necessarily equal more work done. Yet, we tend to work longer hours than ever, often for free.

Predictably, this puts a lot of strain onto our personal lives, so we work even more simply to escape the unhappy home. Or so John Naish claims.

He also explores how the amount of money in our banks relates to self-professed levels of happiness and what would happen if we all decided to work less.

To some, his findings will be quite surprising.

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Enough work - further reading

Willing Slaves: How the Overwork Culture is Ruling Our Lives
Willing Slaves: How the Overwork Culture is Ruling Our Lives

I chose this book for the title alone.

Madeleine Bunting has carried out a detailed study of contemporary work culture. Despite her being quite reserved in tone, I found the report chilling.

Work, or overwork, is literally killing us. Even if we leave the most extreme cases aside, the picture Bunting paints is still grim.

Willing Slaves is guaranteed to provide you with some food for thought and inspiration (especially if you're considering downshifting).

Read the full review here.

 

Enough stuff

In the Western world, we are constantly encouraged to buy things. Some treat it as their patriotic duty (hey, you gotta help the economy out of the slump, right?), a remedy for life's blues (retail therapy, anyone?) or simply the only way of life there is.

In the meantime, our rubbish dumps are overflowing, biodiversity of our planet is getting - how should I put it? - much less diversified and storage space renting is turning into a high profit business idea. Not to mention shopaholics, obsessive hoarders and perpetually indebted on-credit-spenders.

We don't really need that much stuff, guys. Naish is very articulate in his arguments for re-thinking our consumer habits. Indeed, consuming less of everything is one of the main themes in Enough. It can be done, especially if you employ some of the strategies suggested by the book.

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If Enough didn't convince you that too much stuff is bad for you... - ...how about George Carlin?

Enough stuff - further reading

All Consuming
All Consuming

Neal Lawson argues that we are not consumers anymore, we are turboconsumers. I find it hard to disagree.

All Consuming takes a good, hard look at the dark side of capitalism. It is full of worrying statistics, interviews with people whose lives have been damaged by turboconsumerism and other snapshots of capitalism rampant doing harm.

Lawson suggests some remedies and while I don't exactly agree with his propositions, I admit that his book is engaging, thought provoking and highly recommendable.

Click here for a longer review.

 

Is it time to say Enough?

Have we passed the point where striving for more stopped being beneficial and became a menace? Should we rethink our way of life?

Striving for more - good or bad?

Good of course. Naish and his ilk are just doomsayers.

Good of course. Naish and his ilk are just doomsayers.

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    • Aunt-Mollie 4 years ago

      I'd say: We need more of the good stuff and less of the bad stuff.

    • Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I think more can also be interpreted to mean more discipline...more balanced...it is always good to strive for something....do they also serve those who sit and tweet?

    • GrammieOlivia 4 years ago

      More time to read-good, more time to spend with the kids-good, more time to walk and enjoy the sunshine-good. More "stuff" forget it, it's just junk!

    • FallenHalos 4 years ago

      the best things in life are free and ordinary to some.

    Bad. Our present behaviour can only end in tears.

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      • anonymous 4 years ago

        Great book... I loved it!!! I couldn't get enough of it ;)

      • Elyn MacInnis 4 years ago from Shanghai, China

        We need to be very careful with our sweet world. There are "enough" people, and we are doing things that are not good for the world or us either. Indeed, we are a menace. But that doesn't mean that things can't be changed. We just need to be sincere about doing it.

      • Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 4 years ago from southwestern Virginia

        It depends upon what the more is....more consumption is deterring to more enjoyment of people, time, and gentle pursuits.

      • darciefrench lm 4 years ago

        I've been living with less clutter of materialism for years now - very happy with a minimalist lifestyle

      • hmommers 4 years ago

        I have to much, but I have difficulty just throwing things away. So I can only get rid of stuff if someone else can do anything with it

      • lesliesinclair 4 years ago

        Striving for genuine good is good, but for stuff is probably bad.

      • waynekat 4 years ago

        Oh how I wish there was a 'in the middle' option here... It's like all things, it is both good and bad. You definitely offer some food for thought here though. Thanks

      • Renaissance Woman 4 years ago from Colorado

        I am seeking only that which is essential these days.

      • SheilaMilne 4 years ago from Kent, UK

        I think our present behaviour is already at the tears stage. There could be worse to come.

      • Radcliff LM 4 years ago

        I'm a huge advocate of the simple life. The more stuff you have, the more stuff you want--whether it's consumer goods or food. When you cut back, you feel better and find you don't need all of those "things". It makes no difference if you're poor, wealthy, or somewhere in between, overconsumption isn't healthy, mentally or physically.

      • LadyDuck 4 years ago

        Actual world is Too Much of everything. Take a break and enjoy old time living.

      • Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

        I believe in the biblical principle (I know, I know...not a popular subject with you...LOL) of "everything in moderation!" I strive to live that way.

      Enoughism as a social movement

      Thank you!

      A big, warm, collective THANK YOU to everyone who visited/liked/commented on this page after its brief burst of fame (it's the winner of March 2013 Squidoo Book Club Quest).

      I am very happy to see you here and grateful for your support, input and encouragement.

      Have you read Enough? - If not, are you going to?

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        • yonique88 profile image

          yonique88 4 years ago

          Congratulations on winning the March book quest. That review you did was really great!

        • Fran Tollett profile image

          Fran Tollett 4 years ago

          Congratulations on winning the March book quest! And Bravo on the purple star. George Carlin is great too.

        • Elyn MacInnis profile image

          Elyn MacInnis 4 years ago from Shanghai, China

          Sounds like a good book. I want to read it.

        • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image

          Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 4 years ago from southwestern Virginia

          I love to read and probably will never have enough to read and think about...meanwhile congrats on your win, and perhaps more importantly many thanks on such a well constructed book review about an important topic.

        • darciefrench lm profile image

          darciefrench lm 4 years ago

          I get the gist of the book from this lens - great topic!

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          hmommers 4 years ago

          I haven't read it, but am definitely interested

        • eccles1 profile image

          eccles1 4 years ago

          No I have not read this book but I been feeling it since I stopped working, that is when I realized how addicted I was to going to the mall not just to shop but eating fast food every week until I started to see I was buying things I didn't need, then I started to get real sick for years from fast food,5 years ago I had enough! Love this lens it makes you think! Thank you great lens!

        • Tiggered profile image
          Author

          Tiggered 4 years ago

          @Northerntrials: Inspiring people is very rewarding:) Good luck!

        • Tiggered profile image
          Author

          Tiggered 4 years ago

          @motobidia: I know this is easier said than done, but to me the choice is obvious. Environmental changes are already dangerously invading our lives (e.g. pollution levels in Beijing, if we're talking China). I believe that promoting population growth for the sake of economy is suicidal - no amount of consumer goods will do any good if the very air we breathe turns toxic. It's probably time to at least strive for bringing such choices into the rational sphere, as far as it is possible, or those children will have no planet to live on.

          Maybe be could simply redefine the term 'prosperity'?

        • Tiggered profile image
          Author

          Tiggered 4 years ago

          @SusanDeppner: I'm sorry to hear about your house burning down; glad, though, that you've managed to take some good out of it.

          Thanks for your kind words

        • Glenda Motsavage profile image

          Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

          I have not read "Enough" but I love the subject matter. Your book review was awesome, and it's now on my bucket list! Congrats on the well-deserved Purple Star!

        • Tiggered profile image
          Author

          Tiggered 4 years ago

          @WebMarketingPro: Ah, yes, Michael Pollan writes a lot about this in the book I'm recommending above. I think in a way it's still connected to the 'enough' idea: if food manufacturers weren't so greedy, low-nutrient processed foods wouldn't push more wholesome stuff from shop shelves etc. Lots of space for a whole new discussion here :)

        • lesliesinclair profile image

          lesliesinclair 4 years ago

          Not yet, but it sounds like valuable stuff.

        • Ann Hinds profile image

          Ann Hinds 4 years ago from So Cal

          Besides that fact that I loved Carlin before he started biting the hand that fed him, several years ago I found that I had enough. It's liberating and changes the way you look at life. I guess I will have to read the book but then again, I have enough books. I take that back, I don't think books count in enough.

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          GrammieOlivia 4 years ago

          Haven't read it yet, but will get it on my bookshelf soon! Once gardening season is over, I will be needing something good to read.

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          allthingsweightloss 4 years ago

          Maybe I have been living under a rock but I haven't heard of a "movement" per se, but I like what this is preaching... think I am going to have to pick up the book too. Thanks for your review

        • QuirkyGifts profile image

          QuirkyGifts 4 years ago

          Enough! There's never enough after reading this lense - well deserved purple star.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Loved watching Carlin' s riff on stuff. Great lens!

        • waynekat profile image

          waynekat 4 years ago

          I've not read 'enough' and I'm not sure if I will, we shall see what shows up at the book stores.

        • octopen profile image

          octopen 4 years ago

          Well done on the Purple Star and winning the Book Review Quest, you deserve it!

        • WebMarketingPro profile image

          WebMarketingPro 4 years ago

          Not yet. I might. I do find that things are a bit more complicated than he may make them out to be (though obviously, I don't know for sure since I haven't read it). For example, obesity can actually be due to malnutrition, since junky carbs are WAY cheaper than high quality protein, and they lead to weight gain, plus the body demands enough of the nutrients it needs which makes people hungry even though they "technically" have eaten enough. Yet calories aren't the only thing they need, So it's a catch-22.

        • Diana Wenzel profile image

          Renaissance Woman 4 years ago from Colorado

          I love that term "enoughism." And, of course, George Carlin's "Stuff" routine is such a brilliant classic. Congrats on your Book Quest win. I'm very gungho on this topic you chose. My whole life is focused on ridding myself of excess. I can wholeheartedly cheer on those who are brave enough to say: "Enough is enough (or too much)!" I'll have to check out some of these books. Thanks!

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          BarbaraCasey 4 years ago

          Great book review. Haven't read Enough, but agree with the principle. Congrats on winning the book club prize!

        • SheilaMilne profile image

          SheilaMilne 4 years ago from Kent, UK

          I'll definitely add the book to my list of books to be read but, sadly, I can never say "enough" to another book I should read. :)

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Interesting lens. Congratulations on getting the Purple Star.

        • poldepc lm profile image

          poldepc lm 4 years ago

          congrats on the winning...

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          ohcaroline 4 years ago

          Having moved several times in the last few years...I can attest to the enough fact! When you move, you have to face the reality of all the "stuff" you really have.

        • Radcliff LM profile image

          Radcliff LM 4 years ago

          I've read several of the books you mention--this subject matter interests me also. I wish this title came in Kindle format! It's on my list of "to reads". :)

        • profile image

          motobidia 4 years ago

          The choice between striving for more and settling for "enough" is hard. There is a trade-off between the personal prosperity and strength of the economy as a whole at the present or immediate future, both of which being based on consumerism (at least in the USA), and consideration for the environment and sustainability the long-term. The issues are divisive and people tend to take a strong stance on either side.

          For example, China is currently facing the difficult dilemma of continuing their single-child policy, which is good for the environment (meaning that fewer people would compete for the same resources, even though as more of their population enters the middle class, their per-capita consumption levels increase inordinately), but bad for their economy, or scrap it, which would provide a larger generation of young people who would continue the growth of the economy and provide for the benefits of the older generation.

          On the micro level, individuals make those choices mostly on a sub-rational level, based mainly on their cultural and religious background, upbringing and financial situation.

        • Northerntrials profile image

          Northerntrials 4 years ago

          That is my favorite George Carlin skit. Pure genius. Thanks for the thoughts for today. Hmm maybe even longer. Some of this stuff hits too close to home. I think its time for spring cleaning.

        • nickybutler profile image

          nickybutler 4 years ago

          I've never heard of Enough or its author but I shall definitely be reading. Sounds like a perfect antidote to 'consume, consume, consume' Congratulations on winning the book comp too :D

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          LadyDuck 4 years ago

          I have not yet read the book Enough, now I am curious to read it. Good lens!

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          congatulations !!!

        • SusanDeppner profile image

          Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

          I haven't read the book, but your review alone is very compelling. Our house burned down a year and a half ago and we had to rebuild, re-furnish, and replace everything. Trust me, we're not replacing every single thing. However, I've found that it's difficult to stop at having just the right amount of "stuff" including decor and kitchen gadgets. We have dozens of cabinets in the new house and I'm happy to say that they're not crowded and many are empty - and we have plenty. I'm sure we'll accumulate somewhat over time, but my goal is to continue to remember to say "Enough!" Congrats on winning the book club challenge this month - well deserved!

        • aviwolfson profile image

          Avi Wolfson 4 years ago from Massachusetts

          Good topic. I guess it depends on who and what you're talking about. It's a case by case basis.