Beyond What is Sufficient

IMG_20180403_0091Sufficient. Is it just me or is that word too close to ‘suffer’ for comfort?

But really why do we continue to seek more than what we need? When did sufficient become synonymous with lack or being poor? What is the point of acquiring more and more ‘stuff’ that is never used? And why, in the name of all that is holy, do we feel the need to keep up with anyone?

My thoughts tend to take this turn when I have to clean my ‘stuff’. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy photographs, artwork, and beautiful things. I have some of that type of ‘stuff’ in my house, but I do appreciate a minimalist lifestyle. I certainly don’t have decorations that I can rotate when the whim strikes me.

And yet caring for and maintaining the stuff I do have can be overwhelming at times. ‘Stuff’ that I really wanted at some point. Stuff I thought I ‘needed’ to feel some random emotion. Stuff that was supposed to add to my life.

It added to my life alright… The time necessary to keep it clean and organized. The anxiety at living in an overcrowded house. The lack of money for more important things.

Don’t misunderstand me, you’re not going to see me on an episode of Hoarders. Maybe in the past, but definitely not now. Selling our first house broke of the habit of shopping pretty much permanently.

If you ever want to see what you can live without, stage your home like you’re going to sell it. Declutter your house. It was scary how much stuff we had that we never touched or even thought of, but we still couldn’t get rid of it.

The sad part is that instead of getting rid of all the extra crap we just moved it to the next house to store it while we tried to sell ours. It took almost three years. Three years of holding on to ‘stuff’ that we never even saw let alone used.

It wasn’t until we moved into the next house that we realized we had a problem and began sifting through all the ‘stuff’. But more importantly we, I, took a good hard look at why I kept buying things I didn’t need. Why I let my emotions dictate what I spent my money on and how much.

It was almost like I was afraid to happy and content with what I had, with what I needed. There was some void that I was trying to fill – if it wasn’t being filled with food then I was shopping the clearance aisles at Target. I could only be happy if I had more…

And because of that we were well on our way to living the American dream of being in debt for the rest of our lives and working until we were dead.

But I say there is another American dream that’s gaining a little steam. Self-sufficiency. Frugality. Personal responsibility. Contentment with what one has. Financial independence.

I don’t know about you, but just reading those words fills me with peace. The anxiety has drained away.

‘Impossible,’ you say? No, it’s not. Hard, yes, but not impossible.

Will it take discipline and sacrifice? Yes.

Will it be pleasant when you’re cooking dinner every day instead of going out to eat? No.

Will your friends and family look at you funny when you tell them you never go on vacation any more? Most definitely.

Will you turn green with envy when you hear about other people’s plans for fun? At first.

Will it be worth it in the long-run? Hell, yes!

And it starts with saying ‘no’ to anything that is beyond what is sufficient, whether it be clothes, food, or a house. It starts with being content with what we have. It starts with figuring out why the void we’re trying to fill is there in the first place. It starts with training ourselves to look past today and understanding that delayed gratification is probably the most underrated concept around.

It starts with the question, ‘am I striving for what is beyond sufficient for me?’

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