Lynne Twist, in her book The Soul of Money, cautions that we in America face a perception problem with regard to quantity.
She explains that we all are so bombarded with messages of “more” that we lose sight of the beauty and simplicity of the spiritual-religious concept of sufficiency.
She is right. Every day, we receive a barrage that encourages us to envision our lives as better if only we had more things.
But we don’t need more. Really. We don’t.
I’m not advocating that we don’t need things; of course we do. I’m not arguing that the goal of a spiritually fulfilled life is that of an ascetic – characterized by abstinence from worldly pleasures.
What I want you to do is to take a moment to contemplate sufficiency. Sufficiency is the idea that something is enough just how it is. Sufficiency is the notion that nothing else is needed. Sufficiency is a beautiful concept.
Contemplate, just for this moment, that you have exactly what you need. Let your mind dwell on the idea that there isn’t anything additional that you require. Contemplate enoughness. Feel filled and full.
While we know, at least right in this moment, that we have enough, most of us aren’t really comfortable staying in this feeling for long. The sensation of wholeness is foreign, and we find ourselves wandering from the sufficiency of the now to worrying about the future and fretting about the past. We go back to thinking about how we would feel complete if only we only had this or did that.
Here is a poem that touches on this:
- I am so blessed
- That I often
- Don’t know what to do.
- (The answer, of course, is getting quiet, letting life happen around me, enjoying life, giving thanks, and praising God. Most often, I would rather find something else to do.)
Our nationalized day to be grateful is coming up. How wonderful is that? Our society has said, “Hey, let’s have the last Thursday in November be a day of gratitude.” We have this opportunity to, as a culture, think about appreciation and sufficiency.
Let me tell you what changes the glass we see from seeming half-full to appearing half-empty: our attitude. While it might seem like a platitude, our gratitude depends on our attitude. Judaism, the tradition in which I was ordained as a rabbi, suggests that people say 100 blessings a day – it’s not a bad idea. Scientists have incontrovertibly proven that the simple act of listing what we are grateful for improves the quality of one’s life.
Ask yourself: What are you joyful that you can do? What are you glad that you have? What are you thankful for? Once you answer these questions, your senses of appreciation and calm should rise. (If you want, listing more things for which you are thankful.)
Making a gratitude list is a wonderful thing to do – it reminds you of what (and who) you have, as opposed to what (and who) you lack. Moreover, the attitude of gratitude is contagious and said to attract good things.
When we have gratitude for what we have, we start to see glimpses of sufficiency. When we experience feelings of sufficiency, we feel like we belong in this world exactly as we are. Gratitude is, in effect, saying “Thank you, world.” And, when you express your thanks to the universe, you give God and the universe the opportunity to say to you, “You are welcome.”
How beautiful! We are welcome in this world. We belong – exactly as we are.
I pray that each of us, especially during this season of holy days, remembers to express gratitude. I pray that we realize that we don’t need to compulsively fill ourselves with more.
I pray that we realize that we are welcome, that we belong, that we are sufficient.
A web version of this article is available here.
This article was also posted at Street Prophets.