Living Joyfully: Practicing “Enough”


The feeling that we have not done enough, that we don’t deserve to take time to take a break, and to relax, is one of the main factors leading to overwhelm and exhaustion. And it’s easy to go there – we all have so much to do. Yet even on the very last day of our lives, we will still have unanswered emails, our trash cans may not be emptied, our house may not be completely clean and neat, our work will not be finished – and yet, that’s “the end.”

Living Joyfully: Practicing “Enough”It’s funny when we think about it that way – chances are we won’t be sitting there wishing, wow, I wish I had checked emails one more time, or gee, I wish I had put in more hours at work.

When I was studying Yoga of the Heart with Nischala Devi, she would share stories with us about the patients she worked with, type-A personalities, who came into her program because they had suffered a major cardiac event. Many of them had open heart surgery of some kind, which is often life’s way of saying, loud and clear, “slow down.” She would say to them, kindly, “the heart is our body’s selfless servant, tirelessly beating night and day to keep us alive; its the most caring and compassionate organ in the body…

Why did your heart attack you?” And the funny thing is, they always knew.

When we’re faced with the realization that everything is temporary, the preciousness of the present moment suddenly becomes clear. The miracle of being able to pause for a few moments, and look at something beautiful – a rose just blooming on its dewy stem, the face of a loved one, the smell of a delicious meal, the feeling of a child’s gummy little hand in yours – each of these “little things” becomes an every-day miracle. The ordinary becomes extraordinary. Imagine a life lived like that, full of a sense of the magic and miraculousness, the preciousness, so much to be grateful for, all around you.

Living Joyfully: Practicing “Enough”That life is open to you, right here, right now. But it asks a great price. It asks us to pause, to release our death-grip on the self-imposed conditions of lovability, the unconscious, shaming idea that “If I don’t get all of this done, and damn near perfectly, I am not enough. If I don’t complete this, I am not acceptable. If I don’t accomplish enough, I am not lovable.” This deeply unsettling feeling is what Brené Brown calls “hustling for acceptance.” It’s the opposite of wholehearted living.

Today I’m here to remind us all, kindly, and compassionately, “Enough. Enough of that. Lay that down. Enough. Rest now, in the beauty of this moment. Take a deep breath. Let it out again. You’ve done enough. Be here now, deeply, deeply alive.”

Living a wholehearted, joyful life, asks us to lay down the burden of pressure, the sense of not-enough, whether it’s the sense of “I am not enough” or “I don’t have enough” or “I cannot be enough for everyone.” Chances are, you are already doing quite a lot, and doing it really, really well (you are, you are!) and one of the gremlins that keeps you persisting in believing otherwise is the mental chatter of “not-enough.”

So pause again. Lay it down. Let it go, again and again. Take a deep breath. Let it out. This simple practice hold so much. Be where you are. Welcome a sense of “enough-ness.”

The poet David Whyte says it beautifully:

Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.

This opening to life we have refused again and again until now.

Until now.

Living Joyfully: Practicing “Enough”When we allow ourselves to have conditions of enoughness, meaning a personal sense that “this is enough for me,” when we let go of our need for an unreachable perfection, we open up to the vulnerability of really living. This doesn’t mean you should just let your house go to pot or stop taking care of your children, or let go of lifting a finger to get your stuff done. It’s more about an attitude of sufficiency. It’s letting yourself rest, even in the mess. It’s choosing joy, for yourself, over a check-list of accomplishments. You can take this outlook with you into all of your “doings.”

Here’s the heart of it. To practice, to affirm “Enoughness” is to say,

“If this is all I can get done today, okay. I am still worthy of love and belonging. I am still worthy of taking some time for myself
to rest and breathe.”

Most of us are our own worst boss. Many of us have inherited such a sense of pride-in-getting-stuff-done from our hard-working ancestors, that the idea of taking a break, of resting before we “have-to,” or even delegating and getting some help so that we can enjoy some time to ourselves, can bring up a lot of issues around self-worth. We may be carrying judgments about the need to take a break. “I don’t need to take a break, I can do it all!” We may be carrying fears, “If I take time for me, who is going to get everything done for the kids, or for work or for fill-in-the-blank!” Even though you know, deep down, that you are a better parent, partner, worker, lover, liver of life, when you do take time for yourself.

To practice “Enoughness” is to say, my work here is not done, but I have done enough for now. Now, I will rest. Now, I will enjoy. Now is the only time I have, and I will spend it letting the beauty all around me pierce my soul. Simply being, in the midst of all of this, is enough.

So today, right now, let’s pause again. Look around – better yet, go outside and look up at the vastness of the sky, the space between where you are and the far horizon, and all it holds. We’re here to wonder into it, to delight in it, to share the beauty of what we see. To say, with the poet Mary Oliver, “Look!” and laugh in astonishment.That practice is enough.

And if no one else has said this to you today, let me say it:

You are enough.

You are doing ENOUGH.

enough, in your being. You are perfect. You are here. Be here. Rest now.

May your day be blessed with the everyday miracle of kind and loving attention to the beauty all around you. You can do that. You’re doing it right now.

And so may it be for me, and so may it be for you, and so may it be for all of us.