by Ilene Berns-Zare PsyD
4 ways to stop running after more and find happiness now.
- One way to feel more fulfilled is to recognize that happiness is not somewhere out there, but that it’s possible to feel happy here and now.
- It can feel like doing more or having more will bring happiness, but recognizing that one is innately enough is key to wellbeing.
- Strategies that can help one recognize enough-ness include being kinder to oneself, strengthening gratitude, and embracing a growth mindset.
How much is enough?
One way to feel happier and more fulfilled is to seek greater life balance, recognizing that happiness is not somewhere out there, but rather it’s possible to be happy right here, right now – that there is enough.
During the past 25 years, there has been growing interest in promoting and studying the ingredients that lead to well-being, flourishing, and a good life (VanderWheele, 2020; Seligman, 2011). The search for happiness is not new. Psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl (1959) is quoted as saying: “It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness.”
Are you seduced by what might come after or frequently striving for more? More productivity? More money? And More food? A better body? More books, shoes, or electronic devices? How new does your car have to be? How many vacations? The list could be endless.
Source: John Hain/Pixabay
Tuning Into Enough-ness
What is enough? According to pioneering author Geneen Roth (2010; 2020), “Enough is not a quantity… It’s a relationship to what you already have. Treat yourself as if you already are enough. Walk as if you are enough. See, look, listen as if you are enough. Because it’s true.”
Recognizing enough-ness may not come naturally to many of us. We can learn to recognize that we can be OK not doing something, not acquiring something, not controlling something.
For many of us, it can feel like happiness is just around the corner, if only we can get a little more or do a little more. What if you let yourself know you are enough and have enough right now? That you are enough physically, emotionally, spiritually? Being present to enough-ness can empower you to feel happier and more effective in the present moment, knowing that you already are enough, that you already have enough, that you already do enough.
Many spiritual traditions teach that we are innately enough, simply because we exist. The Buddhist eightfold path teaches about right effort. This concept can be understood as the middle way. Learning to be present – not too tightly, not too loosely. Enough to nourish, but not to overfill. Perhaps we can enjoy enough-ness in a way that feels adequate, without longing for more than our share. Franciscan tradition teaches that there’s enough for everyone and to embrace simplicity, letting go of wanting more (CAC, 2021). Jewish tradition teaches the concept of dayenu, it would have been enough, reminding us to appreciate all that we have and to be thankful for life as a whole.article continues after advertisement
How to Recognize That You Have Enough
The choices we make in our daily lives can impact our sense of wellbeing and happiness. There are many ways to affirm enough-ness and recognize that you have enough right now. Here are some ideas:
1. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself time to breathe, to rest, to soften to the moment with greater self-compassion and love. Embrace your capacity to balance accepting and taking care of yourself with taking action beyond yourself. Psychologist Kristen Neff, Ph.D., describes creating a caring force as we seek balance between the tender self-compassion of accepting ourselves and the fierce self-compassion of taking action out in the world (2021).
2. Embrace yourself with a growth mindset and then connect with others with a similar “glass half full” perspective. Your mindset can have a powerful impact on your life. Stanford University researcher Carol Dweck, Ph.D., studies mindset (2016). Her powerful findings show that people with a growth mindset are able to learn more effectively and overcome life’s challenges. An abundance mindset may empower you to see life’s possibilities, noticing more choices and opportunities, and recognizing that in many ways there is enough for everyone.
3. Let yourself recognize enough-ness by strengthening your gratitude muscle. Gratitude can be one of the biggest scaffolds toward a sense of enough-ness (VanderWeele, 2020). Thankfulness for what has been shared with you, who you are, and what you do is linked to happiness and well-being. Pause during the day to recognize what you do have, what has gone well today, to be thankful for this life whatever it brings.
4. Savor the moment as you pause to notice the good stuff. Savoring is simply pausing to pay attention to this moment. Consider setting an intention to be present and notice what’s happening to you right now.
Can you pay attention to what you are doing or observing in this present moment? For example:
- the smile of this child,
- this loving glance of your pet,
- this astounding insight,
- this feel of the breeze as you walk,
- this nanosecond of clarity,
- this kind gesture,
- this meaningful act.
What if you already have enough? What is one way you can begin to experience greater happiness as you recognize enough-ness in your own life?