How Much is Enough?


At the very beginning of the pandemic, I posted and article that asked, “How does one know what to do?”  In it, I used the example of Kevin McCallister (via Home Alone)  mimicking ‘adulting’ after his initial indulgence into forbidden freedoms.   Though I don’t condone leaving a child for an extended period of time, there is something to the notion of giving someone the opportunity to take care of themselves and observing their actions.  What they choose to do (or not do) is tethered to the notion of amounts — how much should I do, how much could I do, and when is it OK to pull the plug (or push the plug) into something else?


The central question is, “Do I want to change?”


If not, keep doing as you are doing.  There is a built-in consistency there that fosters sustaining you as you are.  If you do want change, altering the amounts of what you are already doing seems like an approachable start.  Important note: the all-or-nothing mindset makes this process much more difficult.  Trying to completely upend your life does not respect the time and experiences that have placed you where you are.  Control does not respect, nor seek to understand.  It forces, it wills, and is ultimately, unsustainable.

Consider the last time you went on a ‘strict’ diet.  You did the research, got all the things, and employed it with satisfying pride for the first couple of days, or maybe weeks.  Then, for whatever reason, there’s a ‘break’.  You get a taste of what you’ve been missing and denying yourself, and because you’ve been soooo good, you deserve to be a little bad, and since you’ve already walked through that door you might as well dive in and take the whole package down.  You’re left with evidence of your weakness, along with massive swells of guilt and shame.

You’re ruining of the plan ruined your plan, ruined you.  It’s a hard thing to pull yourself out of, particularly when your response to such an experience is exerting more control and more tight monitoring.  In an ironic way, freedom from these self-imposed stipulations is what you fear most, when you sold yourself that it was the very thing you wanted.  Moderation is so unsexy and uninspired. The things that work best usually are.

For some reason, going for a walk can be a harder sell than getting that muscle up.  It can’t be that easy.  There’s something culturally ingrained in us that envies and epitomizes making things hard.  Nobody wants to be the tortoise.  They idolize the hare.

When you think about how much money is enough or how much help is enough, it rarely accumulates in one fell swoop.  It accrues slowly, over time, while making deliberate decisions about what you currently can afford, economically or energetically.  There is a present, a past, and a future.  While we can’t go back, we can start building that future we want today, one chip (or chip away) at a time.

The impact is created by small siphons directed in an intentional direction.  A few less noodles, a few more vegetables.  Five minutes less of scrolling before bed.  Lacing your shoes and simply going outside.  The habits and behaviors compound.  Alternatively, since steps forward are considered small, steps back feel resolvable.  A cookie is just a cookie — a decision to be enjoyed and regulated, not an entire upheaval of psyche and structure.

Amounts are tethered to feels.  If you feel good and can keep going, do a lot.  If you feel poorly and can only do a little, do a little.  Sometimes this can look like nothing at all, but this nothing is part of a bigger something.  Doing different is effective, but not necessarily better.  It takes a long, reflective lens of continual adjustments to end up in the place and as the person you truly want to be.

To answer the title question in as universal a way as possible, I’ll rephrase the central tenet to ask, “what is the cost of staying as I am?”  Can you imagine what you are giving up?  Can you be honest about the perks of being as you are?  If the desire is to move away from, what action (or inaction) is most detrimental, and how can I sustainably support an adaptation there?  There is no such thing as too small an opportunity, so there can be no such thing as too small a step.




[Feature Photo from astarlondon on Pixabay.]

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