I was aware of the power of words but, truly, didnt think that one word could trigger so much insight.  “Happy New Year my dear Aïda”, the new year card said, “May you always have enough”.   When I asked a group of people attending a workshop I was facilitating how that new year wish would make them feel, everyone named some positive reaction such as “content”, “happy” “pleased” and “satisfied”.  Well, in my case, my reaction to my friend’s wish was none of the above. My most immediate gut reaction to the word “enough” was one of disappointment. I thought to myself, my wishes to my friends on special occasions are always beaming with exuberance and largesse like “a lot of” “plenty” “abundance” and “wonderful”.  So “enough” sounded, well, not enough.  Then, a little voice from the depths of my mind gently reminded me that in my prayers, every day this is exactly what I ask for…  Our Father…Give us this day, our daily bread..  Okay, I thought – feeling somewhat rehabilitated; “enough” is not so bad after all. And, with my regained sunny disposition, I replied to the friend with: “Thank you, dear friend, enough is great, I wish you the same.”

I went about my work feeling content and calm and a bit remorseful about having hastily judged the friend’s wish. But, my friend’s reply later that day threw me off with something I really did not expect! The friend now generously sent me the full poem from which she had extracted that small part. With the full poem, she wished me enough of the “good” stuff and the not so good stuff.  It was the first time in my life when someone wished me (enough) pain, (enough) loss and (enough) disappointment, so I can appreciate the “smallest joys”, the “good health” and “everything I possess”.  I took a deep breath and looked through the window over the horizon.  I took a long pause.

Stepping back and looking at my earlier immediate reaction, the main reaction, beyond disappointment, was now feelings of astonishment.  With my strong commitment to sustainable living for the past several years, why having “enough” was not good enough for me, I asked myself.  In some of my postings on social media, “taking less” and “enhance life with less not with more” and promoting sustainable living in myriads of ways are core, very core life principles that I genuinely believed in with all my senses. Yet, “enough” made me initially feel flat and bored.

There is a very prevalent subconscious belief out there that if something is good then more of it is always better. There are also many external forces that push us to want more, always. More does not mean only more money or more success or more fame — the typical indicators of success. More also means faster or “more quickly”, “more happiness”, “more fun”, more excitement, bigger, more of every good thing.

While ago I was offered a free Same-Day delivery of a book I ordered from Amazon. I remember how quickly I ticked off the no button. “Are you sure you don’t want to take advantage of this offer?” Their automatic reply quipped. Yes, and I clicked the yes button, again, swiftly.  An unnecessary extravagance with an unnecessary carbon footprint. What is this obsession with faster, and faster and ever faster we now have, I thought to myself.

A stand-up comedian was making a parody of our North American ever-growing expectations for faster delivery nowadays. He wondered aloud, what are the next “faster” delivery service standards? From same day, to two hours, to one hour? What is next?  Ah… he said, the next faster service standard happens when you no longer even order things.  Imagine this: you’re watching your Netflix movie, a knock on your door, you open the door and a delivery guy with your favorite pizza in hand and a big smile: “Hey! Our data show that you might need pizza for your special evening tonight”. But no, the comedian quickly upped the ante to a roaring crowd, no no, that was NOT fast enough. The next faster standard will be a service that can, not only guess what you like to eat, and delivering without your moving a finger, but one that would also come with chewing and swallowing services, and, he kept going pushing the fiction to an über ridiculous limits.

Comedy aside, I re-realized that the pursuit of the “more” of the good is a very powerful driver to our actions and feelings, and no one is immune to it.  Like recently I found myself wishing that a new friend share “more” of his philosophical views, rather than enjoying and honoring what he is willing to share. We have internalized this standard and buried it so deep in our psyche that we forgot it’s there. Paradoxically, this expectation often makes us restless because the standards keep shifting.

For someone who prided themselves in leading a sustainable lifestyle and in being “aware” of psycho-social pressures and marketing strategies, the initial negative reaction to the new year “enough” was remarkable and worth the long pause.  What else did I learn?  Well, this experience has helped move a long stretch on the humility continuum. It opened my eyes to what I don’t know I didn’t know, to a blind spot. It made me more appreciative of what I have and more grounded in where I am. I felt the fullness of I am and all the gratitude that comes with such presence to life.  And this is, well, enough…