I have more blessings than I can shake a stick at. I’ve got a comfortable home, filled with things that are reflective of me. My bills are paid, and my house has heat. The cupboards and refrigerator contain food, and I can get something to eat at any moment I’m feeling hungry. Water comes out of my tap, and I don’t need to travel to get it for cooking or washing. When our clothes (and we have plenty of them) are dirty, I conveniently place them in the machine and turn it on and walk away.
At this writing, there are three fluffy, lovable dogs at my feet, ready to pour on their affection when my attention is no longer absorbed in my writing. This adoration is available to me any time, day or night. They are the most unfailing, willing spirits I have ever known. When I need a snuggle, they are more than happy to oblige.
There was a time not so long ago when I struggled to pay my utilities bills on time; when buying food meant counting change in a jar and calculating what types of things to buy that would yield the most meals. Every day was met with a new challenge. Could I afford gas for the car or deal with an unexpected expense because something stopped working or needed to be fixed?
Lately, my worries have turned to more nonsensical things, such as what to make for dinner and my expanding waistline. Back when I had to make those meals stretch a week or more, there was no agonizing over what to make. I was just glad there was something. Now, with cupboards full of ingredients, I have become whiny when I need to cook and don’t know what to prepare. Odd how that happens. I have more choices and, somehow, I’ve lost my ability to see the good in that. And don’t get me started on that waistline, the very evidence of my abundance! Each day, as I straighten sofa slipcovers and vacuum tumbleweeds of hair from every room, I grumble about the amount of work my dogs make for me.
We want stuff, and then we complain that our homes are cluttered. We want the security of large meals, and then we lament over our bulges. We need clothes, but are angry that we’re buying them in the next size up! We choose to have pets, and then complain about the maintenance they require.
What is it about the human condition that sabotages the very things we draw to ourselves? Are our memories really that short? Why is gratitude something to be remembered and practiced rather than a way of being? Our humanness is a constant state of opposing thoughts and feelings, changing, morphing. We seem to require tragedy and loss to feel joy, abundance, gratitude.
The way I see it, life challenges us in one of two ways. If we are struggling with basic survival, with the need for shelter, food, water, clothing, we are too focused on the necessities to mentally fight with ourselves. If the outside basics are met, we have the need to struggle with something and our focus turns inward and our minds form a battle that doesn’t really exist. Therein lies the key to our unhappiness…or our ability to be happy: the realization that we are creating our struggles internally. We are focused on wanting and acquiring, whether it be “stuff” or something different than what we have. The word satisfaction comes to mind…we can’t seem to be mentally satisfied. There’s always something more to strive for, to acquire, to buy, to have.
The tide is turning, however, and we see evidence of this with people purging their lives of their possessions, downsizing into tiny homes, living with less so they can have more. And what is more? Well, more is, actually, LESS…less of everything. Less work. Less possessions. Less payments. Less square footage to clean, heat and maintain. Once the American dream was owning a home, complete with garage, swimming pool and picket fence. Now, the American dream seems to be freedom from the stress of having these things.
Perhaps there is a middle ground on which we can stand. Perhaps we can have just enough. Is it possible to have a small, comfortable home with a few furnishings AND the freedom of working less to pay for and maintain those things? Can we buy a few groceries for a few days and eat only when we’re truly hungry? Can we do things with our spare time that would help keep our bodies from storing fat? Enjoyable things, like daily walks with our lovable pets.
The concept of Just Enough is a foreign one to most of us. Currently, there are too many things to look at, to long for, just by logging onto our computers. Online access enables us to compare ourselves to others. Both create longing and competition…and more stress. It loops us back into the struggle.
My personal struggle is to stop wanting something other than what I have. After years of working on my house, a house that was once just four rooms but is now six, I find myself wishing it was back to its original size. I think of the money I would have saved and how I may have paid my mortgage off sooner. I spent years wanting a slightly larger house, so I added onto it, and then spent more years (and money) filling it with stuff. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful, beautiful house and I love it. But was it necessary?
My new work is acknowledging the daily blessings I have and allowing myself to be deserving of them. When thoughts of wanting something different rise (and they most assuredly do), I go back to the beginning of this writing and remind myself of all that I have, and all that I didn’t have at one time. I whisper a small prayer of thanks to my provider, and then I do something physical, whether it’s cleaning or walking or cooking, which takes me out of my head and into the present moment. Being active puts me in touch with what’s in front of me, surrounding me. Amazingly, gratitude pours, and a sense of satisfaction fills me.
Almost on cue, the doxology I sang in church as a child begins in my head as I conclude this writing.
Praise God from whom all blessing flow
Praise Him, all creatures, here below
Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
Indeed, I have more than just enough.
This blog post was contributed by Dawn Davis, a wonderful, compassionate, seeker of wisdom who gives the best massages in the world – ladies only! Here’s her contact info: https://www.facebook.com/DawnLDavisLMT/