Why we may never have ‘enough’

The concept of ‘enough’ remains as elusive as the horizon — always visible yet forever just out of reach. This is particularly true in our relationship with money, a relationship that often mirrors the depths of human desire and the complexities of contentment.

The nature of enough is a philosophical rabbit hole. On the one hand, it is an acknowledgement of sufficiency, a nod to the point where need and provision are in harmony. Yet, paradoxically, it is also the starting line for more — a restless starting block from which we sprint after the next financial milestone. The notion of having ‘enough’ money is bound by personal context, subject to the shifting sands of life’s circumstances and societal benchmarks.

In a culture where success is frequently measured by material accumulation, ‘more’ is an endless call, luring us with promises of security, happiness, and status. But as philosopher Epicurus pointed out, “Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.”

This insatiability is deeply woven into the fabric of our economic system, which thrives on continuous growth and consumption. Yet, this perpetual hunger for more often leads to a cycle of endless pursuit, where satisfaction is a moving target, always just beyond the next paycheck or purchase.

The stoics, on the other hand, teach us about ataraxia — a state of serene calmness, a contentment that comes not from external acquisitions but from inner peace and the wisdom of knowing what is truly necessary. Seneca, a stoic philosopher, cautioned against allowing fortune to dictate happiness, suggesting that wealth is not one of the good things but a ‘neutral’ thing, a tool whose value is determined by its use.

What, then, if we reframe our perception of ‘enough’? What if enough isn’t a number in a bank account but a mindset, a perspective that allows us to find contentment in the present while still fostering ambitions for the future? This balance is not found in passive resignation but in active gratitude, a nuanced understanding that while we strive for more, we also celebrate what is.

In this light, the statement “we’ll never have enough” can transform from a sentence of eternal dissatisfaction to a recognition of life’s boundless possibilities. It’s not a curse of perpetual lack, but an invitation to ongoing growth, learning, and experience. It’s an acknowledgement that the richness of life is not solely contained within the confines of financial wealth.

The truth is, there will always be more money to earn, just as there will always be more life to live, more love to give, and more wisdom to gain. In recognising that ‘enough’ is a fluid concept, we might find that our lives are fuller than we realised — not with the clutter of possessions, but with the things that truly enrich us: relationships, experiences, and the joys of a life well-lived.

In the end, perhaps it’s not about having ‘enough’ money, but about having enough of what money can’t buy. The art, then, is not only in the earning but in the art of discerning — figuring out what enough means for us and adjusting our sails accordingly on the vast ocean of life.

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