The meaning of Enough

How many of us think about what we could do with money? How many of us understand its true value? Whether we squander or spend lavishly everyone gives thought to having the stuff that makes it possible to live.

The fact is that having a sufficient amount of funds for meeting life’s needs can provide each of us with the feeling of being safe and secure. Having a surplus of funds can provide us with options. The more wise options each of us have the choices we can make free us up to pursue better solutions for the challenges we face in life.
I’ve come to rethink how I feel about the paper we call money. I now think in terms of options rather than wealth. What options do I need to provide in my life? What are the consequences of having any particular option? What is the meaning of having enough? It wasn’t always this way. My thoughts and feelings about money have been an ongoing journey.
I’ve learned much from living and working. The process of returning to work as a self-employed therapist has caused me to ask myself about money, what I need to provide for my family and what I’d like to do with the money I earn. What are my needs, the needs of my family and the needs of my business?
One of the most important values I have is that of being able to assist others less fortunate than myself. This can only happen when the needs of my family are sufficiently met. It means having enough for not only our family’s needs but having enough to fulfill a dream or two. Having enough is about being realistic and feeling good about the things you have. For me it means being able to give back.
So in practical terms what is enough? Being able to buy what I want at the grocery store. Providing new clothing my family when they need new things to wear is also important to me. Saving for retirement and taking a vacation to relax and return to work refreshed. It means being able to save and give assistance by offering to buy groceries or replace someone’s worn shoes. It means doing good things for others. It means giving someone who is starting out in business my business. It means that I want to do nice things for my husband without him knowing about them.
Having enough also means that you don’t waste what you have. There is something about meeting your needs and not over consuming that is just good for the world we live in. When you live within your means and use only what you need you have less trash, less stuff to store and less cleaning to do. I’m not professing to be a minimalist because I’m not such a person. Since our family has cut back on consumables our trash isn’t as full and our house is less burdened with excess.
I will confess to wanting more kitchen space so that I can buy some cool kitchen gadgets. We like cool gadgets and we like to cook. So it also follows that we like to eat good food. It is all about determining what “enough is” and living that way in a realistic and calm manner.
One of the things I’ve learned from living here in Europe is that Europeans like nice stuff. They have less stuff but what they own is nice. Most people here don’t go into debt. They pay cash for what they own. Most will have enough to retire on and are satisfied. Being here in The Netherlands has taught me to rethink my thinking. It has been a lesson worth experiencing and learning.

As I think about who I am now versus who I was when I came to Europe to live I can see how being here has affected me in a positive manner. It has changed me for the better and it has taught me valuable lessons that I could not have learned by remaining in the U.S.

Insight is a great gift that each of us can provide to ourselves.  Insight comes when you look in the mirror and notice that the face staring back at you has taught you a valuable lesson, and one that you would not trade because you are better off for knowing. Insight can heal the pain that comes from making lousy decisions. Insight is like a plate of your favorite comfort food. When you have it you want to enjoy it and you do want more of it.
As I move on with life having enough for our family’s needs is good enough. Evaluating what enough is was a challenge that has brought me inner peace. Understanding what enough is frees me to do what I need to do in my life. Having enough means that you can live your life and not chase a false dream.


About Gail Nicolaysen-Shurtleff

I am an American who is living in The Netherlands. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist with a license to practice in California. Music has been a huge part of my life. Singing is something you can find me doing at any time and anywhere. I have to admit that I try to not sing while out in public though. You can also find me in the kitchen cooking up wonderful things. cooking is something that I have just recently (in the last ten years) discovered that I'm talented at doing, and it is really fun. The best way to know me is to read my blog.
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2 Responses to The meaning of Enough

  1. Denise says:

    The UK is more like the US I think 🙂 There are always news stories on how we are so much in debt.

    Seriously though I wish I had had this sensible advice when I was younger. “…This can only happen when the needs of my family are sufficiently met.”

    When I was younger I didn’t value myself and therefore my immediate family enough. So I was susceptible to other people’s whims. It was also a misplaced sense of religious duty I think – that I shouldn’t want anything nice for myself – even essentials. I did not look after myself enough and I and my family went without.

    ” Being able to buy what I want at the grocery store.” This is such a small thing. But you are right that being able to do so makes you a more relaxed person. Much more relaxed.

    Thanks for posting,

    • Gail Nicolaysen-Shurtleff says:


      You just gave me my next blog post. Thanks.

      It is liberating to walk into a grocery store and be able to buy whatever you want. I haven’t always been able to do this.

      The feeling in the U.S. that you must “keep up with the Jones'” has caused people to run rampant in their lives. Ironically after I posted this I watched a documentary on a family that lost everything. They fought to keep it all and were rewarded with the reality of loss. The couple divorced, and wound up still living together with their two sons. All they could afford was a one bedroom apartment. Losing a home is hard but I’d rather have my family.

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