“For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is “I didn’t get enough sleep.” The next one is “I don’t have enough time.” Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of. We don’t have enough exercise. We don’t have enough work. We don’t have enough profits. We don’t have enough power. We don’t have enough wilderness. We don’t have enough weekends. Of course, we don’t have enough money – ever.
We’re not thin enough, we’re not smart enough, we’re not pretty enough or fit enough or educated or successful enough, or rich enough – ever.
Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds race with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to the reverie of lack.
What begins as a simple expression of the hurried life, or even the challenged life, grows into the great justification for an unfulfilled life.”
And Lynne Twist's words on sufficiency:
“We each have the choice in any setting to step back and let go of the mindset of scarcity. Once we let go of scarcity, we discover the surprising truth of sufficiency. By sufficiency, I don’t mean a quantity of anything. Sufficiency isn’t two steps up from poverty or one step short of abundance. It isn’t a measure of barely enough or more than enough. Sufficiency isn’t an amount at all. It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough, and that we are enough.
Sufficiency resides inside of each of us, and we can call it forward. It is a consciousness, an attention, an intentional choosing of the way we think about our circumstances.”
I myself am guilty of often seeing my life from a scarcity viewpoint, which can be ironic given the many privileges I enjoy - it's not unusual for me to catch myself starting to mentally complain about something, and then give myself a quick thought check along the lines of, "Boy, isn't that a First World problem!" (i.e. there are millions of people in the world who might like to have the opportunity to experience my "problem"). I don't intend this to be dismissive of my experience. I don't think that invalidating my feelings or getting stuck in a sense of guilt about whatever is overwhelming, worrying or frustrating me is useful or wise, because such feelings can help me to realize when there is something in my life that is not serving me well and needs to change if it is within my power. But I do think that pausing a moment to look for a new perspective and to practice awareness of and gratitude for what I do have, what I have accomplished, and who I am, is very useful. When I have shifted my perspective from scarcity to sufficiency, it has indeed brought me more joy and has changed how I relate to people and the world around me. I'm not always good about changing my perspective "in the moment," but when I fail to do so, I try to practice delayed gratitude - looking back over events in my day once I'm in a calmer state and trying to reframe them from a viewpoint of sufficiency. Sometimes my thoughts don't deal so much with scarcity as with a mental framework that sees things as a problem instead of a privilege. For me, my reframing often looks something like this:
I'm tired of shoes lying around the house instead of being put in the large shoe bin where they can easily be found.
The yard needs so much more work to look good, and I don't have the time, energy and money to do it. We need more mulch, a landscape border, a better lawn, and better drainage.
I forgot to call the doctor's office and set up an appointment, didn't get replies sent off to emails (again), didn't make it to the library to return books before close, still have unfolded laundry all over the living room, and didn't even make a dent in the pile of paperwork that needs filed and has been hidden out of sight on my bedroom floor for the past couple weeks.
Hopper 1 is going to kindergarten, and I haven't worked with him enough so that he can read more and recite his phone number more consistently and count to 100 without some help and write his last name and control his behaviors all the time.
Our family is able to have an entire large bin full of shoes, multiple pairs per family member. We have shoes - all in good enough condition - that can work for nearly every occasion.
I'm grateful that that we have a yard in generally safe neighborhood. We have (relatively) green space where the kids can play, we can plant a garden when we so desire, and we can catch toads and watch squirrels and birds. I manage to mow the lawn about once a week, and the yard is more grass than weeds.
It's great to have health insurance that covers doctor's visits; medical providers nearby that we can see quickly; internet to correspond quickly via email when time does allow; a library with access to more books than we could possibly read; a library system that allows me to renew books online from home; a washer and dryer to do laundry so that I can have clean clothes all over my living room; and a house large enough to have rooms where I can hide piles of paperwork when people come over. I did a lot today, and it is good enough - I played with my kids, talked to my husband, paid bills, took the kids to gymnastics class, ensured kids took naps, fixed healthy enough food for us to eat, swept the kitchen floor twice, mowed the lawn, and learned something when I read half a chapter of a book.
Hopper 1 is going to be fine in kindergarten - not perfect (nor do I want to put that expectation on him), but good enough. He has really improved in controlling his behavior and is so friendly and willing to help. He is a sharp kid who builds creative things with his Legos, can tell me interesting details about the animals that live in "the steaming hot jungles of Borneo," and surprises me often with his extensive vocabulary.