Why we may never have ‘enough’

Let’s be honest, constantly chasing after more wealth can sometimes feel like a cruel game of trying to catch the horizon. Just when you think you’ve reached your goal, it moves further away. So when do we stop chasing the horizon? When is enough, enough?

The nature of “enough” is a philosophical rabbit hole. On the one hand, it is an acknowledgement of sufficiency, a nod to the point where need and provision are in harmony. Yet, paradoxically, it is also so often the starting line for more. The notion of having “enough” money is bound by personal context, subject to the shifting sands of life’s circumstances and societal benchmarks.

In a culture where success is frequently measured by material accumulation, “more” is an endless call, luring us with promises of security, happiness, and status. But as philosopher Epicurus pointed out, “Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.”

This insatiability is deeply woven into the fabric of our economic system, which thrives on continuous growth and consumption. Yet, this perpetual hunger for more only leads to a cycle of endless pursuit, where satisfaction is a moving target, always just beyond the next pay check or purchase.

The stoics, on the other hand, teach us about ataraxia — a state of serene calmness, a contentment that comes not from external acquisitions but from inner peace and the wisdom of knowing what is truly necessary. 

Seneca, a stoic philosopher, cautioned against allowing fortune to dictate happiness, suggesting that wealth is not one of the good things but a “neutral” thing, a tool whose value is determined by its use.

But what if we reframed how we look at “enough”? Instead of a number in our bank accounts, what if it became a mindset of gratitude — appreciating what we have while still striving for growth? This isn’t about resignation, but balance. It’s the wisdom of enjoying life’s journey while still having ambition.

The truth is, there will always be more money to earn, just as there will always be more life to live, more love to give, and more wisdom to gain. In recognising that “enough” is a fluid concept, we might find that our lives are fuller than we realised — not with the clutter of possessions, but with the things that truly enrich us: relationships, experiences, and the joys of a life well-lived.

In the end, perhaps it’s not about having “enough” money, but about having enough of what money can’t buy. The art, then, is not only in the earning but in the art of discerning — figuring out what enough means for us and adjusting our sails accordingly on the vast ocean of life.

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