It may seem a bit counter-intuitive at first, that “more than enough” is not “enough.” How can that be? I mean, if you have more than enough, then you surely have enough, plus more! That makes sense.
My point is more…strict, for lack of a better word. In math terms, let’s say “enough” is equal to one. Then “more than enough” is equal to any number greater than one, two for example. And two is not one; it’s two!
Why strain at such a distinction? Well, hopefully to make a good point. I’m trying to distinctly ask the helpful question, “How much is enough?” The answer is classic: Enough Is Enough. So “more than enough” is not enough.
The Problem Of More Than Enough
You might be wondering, “So what’s the problem with having more than enough?” Looking at the big picture, it’s not ideal. You want to aim for the middle of the spectrum, which is just enough. On the left end, you have the problem of less than enough. And on the right end you have the problem of morethan enough. In general, you want just enough because anything else is either too little or too much.
Most times, people agree that having less than enough is a problem. And the solution is to gain more until you have enough. But instead of stopping there, they extend it further, believing that if “enough” solves the problem, then “more than enough” solves the problem even more!
That sounds good on the face of it. If “enough” is good, then “more than enough” is better, right? But the problem is that “more” tends to create more problems than it solves. In a word, it becomes excess.
So what about excess? The minimalists
say this about it:
“Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.”
Excess Versus Extra
There is a subtlety to the problem of “more than enough.” While you might think of it as extra, my point is that it tends to be excess
. And when it comes to minimalism
, extra is excessive. And excess is the enemy of enough.
Excess is the enemy of enough.
Of course, you might quickly say that not all extra is excess. In some cases, a little more than enough is a good thing, like putting extra money in your savings account. But I think in the majority of cases, we inadvertently succumb to the trap of excess. We tend to slip beyond having just enough and find ourselves overwhelmed by too much of something: too much food, too much time on Facebook, too much…[fill in the blank].
So even though a little extra is technically “more than enough”, it can still be an acceptable amount sometimes. You just gotta be careful about it because we live in a culture of consumerism and materialism in which gaining more and more is the trend. (Minimalism strives to reverse that trend.)
Need Versus Want
How do you be careful to avoid excess? One simple way is to ask yourself about your needs versus your wants.
I’m sure you’ve been through something like this before. You’re at the checkout line buying what you need. And then the Milky Way candy bar catches your eye. And the caramel from within calls to you. Suddenly, you need to satisfy your sweet tooth. I know. I’ve been there more than enough times! So you ask yourself in that situation, do you really need that candy or do you just want it? And you look at your groceries, realizing you’ve already got plenty of snacks you’re about to buy.
The most common scenario seems to be a closet full of clothes and shoes. Most people in America have more than enough clothing. Yet we tend to keep buying more. In fact, decluttering
your closet and dresser is one of the top posts on minimalism blogs. How did all that excess sneak in there? I think this can be addressed by just getting brutally honest about what you really need instead of what you really want.
So you might need extra, but you tend to want excess (whether you realize it or not). I believe that’s a truth most folks would agree with. Yet we tend to “forget” it in our daily life until it’s too late, like when the dirty laundry is stacked up. In exasperation you sigh, “Why are there so many clothes?”
Stop The Excess Trend
The call to action in this type of case is to donate, out of your over-abundance, a portion of your wardrobe to goodwill. But has the problem of more than enough been solved? Not really. A symptom has been alleviated, but the root cause remains.
Overall, the call to action here is to be mindful of these simple truths: “more than enough” is not ideal; it tends to become excess. And we tend to not notice the subtle excess growth, so be aware! I hope this blog post is a good reminder. Remember these things as you go throughout your days and weeks, asking yourself if you really need all that you already have, and do you truly need more of what you want to buy.
What do you think’s enough?