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What If Enough Was Really Enough?

Updated on February 19, 2009


When I was little and being very annoying (usually singing at the top of my lungs like some Ethel Merman spirit trapped inside a five year old body) my mother would say, “All right, enough is enough.” So when I think about “enough being enough” it’s usually in that context but with the recent economy and our country’s current health status I started wondering what if enough was really enough? – Don’t Get Me Started!

I grew up with the phrase, “I want my kids to have more than I had” as part of everyone’s language. I didn’t think my parents had it all that rough growing up but I understood that the sentiment was that they wanted me to live my dreams and to attain more than they had so that I would be “happy.” But somehow that seemed to put a message in my head that whatever I had (albeit supposedly more than my parents had as kids) at the time wasn’t enough either. What I don’t think anyone took into account was that the above phrase was really about people like the coal miners who gave up their own dreams and health by working in those mines to put food on the table and ensure that their children might be able to go to college. But since my father didn’t work in a coal mine I had no real point of reference, I guess I just thought it meant that he wanted me to have a new car instead of a used one or something. And thus I began to think that whatever I had was not enough, that I needed more.

My maternal grandfather died of a heart attack a few weeks after I was born. I wish I had gotten to know him. Had he lived in this day and age he would have lived much longer thanks to the advances in medical technology. So isn’t it interesting that in this day and age where we have so many more medical advancements that we are the first generation whose kids will not live as long or longer than us because of their obesity and general poor state of health? Could it be that their parents wanted them to have “more” than they themselves had as children so never taught them that one burger would do the trick and gave them as many as they asked for when they pulled around to the drive up window at McDonald’s? Is that why we’re all overweight, because we don’t get that enough is enough?

I look at my stuff. My Iphone, my laptop, my new Tom Ford sunglasses (that cost way too much) and I think about the fact that my Mini Cooper will be paid off very soon. I’ll completely own it free and clear (as they say). I should be delighted and yet there’s a part of me itching for a new car because after all, I was raised on wanting something other than what I had and thought I deserved it because it was covered under the “having more than my parents had” act of 1964. Shouldn’t it be enough that I have a car that doesn’t require me figuring out how to make the payment on it each month (or cringing when they call because I’m late on the payment?) Shouldn’t I be saying that this car has been enough for the years I’ve owned it, still runs well and so it should be “enough?”

I want to believe that I’m a forty-four year old who is evolved enough to understand that most of the times when I feel hell is right here on earth that I’ve created it for myself by wanting to live beyond or have things beyond my means. But if I’m honest, it’s a constant struggle. I want to be able to eat as much as I want without worrying about getting fatter. I want a new car that costs more than most third world countries produce in gross revenue for the year. I want more and then I want more than that so that I have even more than you have. (Basically I’m Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory)But if all I want is more then will I ever feel that I have enough? Maybe when I start to build new cars online, feel as though I need yet another cookie or am about to make yet another impulse purchase I need to hear my mother in my head saying, “Enough is enough.” And maybe, just maybe feeling as though you have it all when you don’t might be a wonderful feeling. What if enough was really enough? – Don’t Get Me Started!

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    • Seafarer Mama profile image

      Karen A Szklany 6 years ago from New England

      Very though-provoking hub. It takes a long time to get beyond all the commercial stuff when we are inundated with it. Seems to take a very determined spirit to say "stop! this isn't right!". I belong to an organization called Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC)and replace any television-watching time that my daughter might engage in with direct interaction and games, creating something, gardening and cooking.

      My mother sometimes gets stuck with the drive to want more and better. She thinks we are deprived because we don't have a state-of-the-art entertainment system or all the tools we could need (we live in cohousing, so we can borrow them). Borrowing seems so un-American to her. She is downright critical about it.

      But I think that sharing seems to take the pressure off needing to "have" all the time. In some ways, it could be the key to making more friends, and bridging the isolation many of us feel from one another...a little social detritus from the McCarthy Era as far as I am concerned. More people will be staring to form economic security support groups around the nation with the present state of the economy. Look up "Institute for Policy Studies." :0)

      Yes, we have been hammered with the need to over-achieve to the point that some of us were discouraged from choosing a career path that would have made us happier because it didn't pay "enough." Ugh....and so the rising incidence of cancer, etc.

    • KCC Big Country profile image

      Karen Curtis 8 years ago from Central Texas

      It's not to one's benefit to be content with what one has.  Having 'more' is the motivator behind everythng we do.  I think where we get confused is in the identifying of what the 'more' is that we want.  When we long for a new this or that it's not the object that we want, it's what we THINK having it will bring us, whether that is joy, happiness, respect, prestige, admiration from others, etc.  Those are desires that are important to us, not the material things.

      When you find yourself wanting something, delve a bit deeper into yourself and ask yourself what you're REALLY after.  You'll often find you can find these things without buying the object.  That becomes your 'enough'.