Because living at a minimum can be just as exasperating as living on a maximum is exhausting, while essentials evoke the sensation of a tight comfort, of the “just”, which does not seem quite fair. In some way, essential sounds very much akin to minimal. It somehow draws up something stern, Spartan. The hedonism of maximal also sends off warning signals of decadence – preparation for no-tomorrow.
When you can state of something that it is sufficient, you are saying enough. Saying or recognizing. Applying self-discipline, you realize the arrival to a limit that you either set up intuitively/intellectually, so in that much voluntarily or, say, your body gave you the impression that it has had pleasant amount of exposure to, load of something. Of course, in reality all of these impulses work intertwined and near simultaneously.
So, I, we believe in the virtue of living by sufficiency. It implies, that any one of us will find things (material or not) sufficient at various levels. And that by itself comforts the soul. It does not suggest that you should have one seat on an armchair or sofa per family member in the sitting room or that you should feel guilty for taking another bite on top of what has satisfied (so has done away with) your hunger. “That suffices” means that I feel satiated now, thank you, I do not need or want more.
Now, if one can only apply the concept of sufficiency to all aspects of life where it’s applicable (arguably love you may or may not be able to give too much of, for instance), I dare ask: would it not make for a happier, more fulfilled world? I suggest it would.
To me, the concept of sufficiency does not depart from the idea of us all being equal in the sense that we all are entitled to the same little (socialism/communism) or the same much (democracy). It seems like a pleasantly apolitical concept that conjures up nothing else than personal fulfillment, whether it reaches maturity in a house with a small yard or on 40 hectares of woodland. The art is to always remain aware of not curtailing the same right to achieve sufficiency of the beings (human and non-human) surrounding us at any given time.
Sufficiency is intrinsic to nature and, like nature, it is about enjoying a dynamic abundance. This also means the wisdom of always adjusting to the currently available levels of abundance, without reservations. So, to be happy with less or more, but never more than what is satisfactory for one’s sense of completeness, including the sensible planning for the foreseeable future (like canning and preserving for winter).
What is above sufficiency is available for sharing.
What’s more, I would argue that sharing should in fact be factored into sufficiency, so that one can feel genuinely satisfied with letting other beings meet their needs too, even when the abundance is constrained by factors outside of one’s control. If in one year plums are few and far between on the trees, sufficient enjoyment of them will now mean eating a few handfuls raw, and still leaving some nice fruit on the trees for wasps, butterflies, birds, lizards (once the fruit falls on the ground) and so on, instead of experiencing the crop as a failure, not being able to make preserves.
To give you another example of dynamic adjustment to what is perceived as sufficiently comfortable, if there are stones protruding out of your walkway, you can choose to remove them, but you can also choose to pace your steps so that they fall in between the rocks which, in turn, could quickly become such a routine, your second nature, that even in dark or not looking, just being aware, you can enjoy the walk without tripping or getting frustrated. Our walkway to the outhouse is such a rocky path. But the same will hold true for many a life path.
Take it from me and enjoy living in sufficiency rather than dwelling on insufficiency. It’s all in the ability to adjust your spirit.
What does sufficiency mean to you? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!