What is enough?

I’ve been struggling with the idea of enough. (Am I enough? Do I do enough?) And rather than rehash my thoughts on this same idea, I wanted to resurrect an old post where I ask, “What is enough?”

Interestingly, it was first published almost exactly a year ago. Turns out that my natural seasonal rhythm lends itself to quieter, introspective winters!


As a parent, friend, sister, daughter and wife I struggle with the notion of enough.

Do I play with the kids enough?
Am I healthy enough?
Do I call my sisters enough?
Have I been a good enough friend?
Is it enough to be content?
Am I trying hard enough?
Am I attractive enough?
Do I give enough?
Do I care enough?

Enough – not too little, not too much. Just… enough.

After struggling with the idea for a very long time – never feeling good enough, never satisfied, never entirely content – I’ve started to frame the idea of ‘enough’ in a different way. And can I tell you, it’s helping me find some much-needed perspective.

Much like the idea of tilting – where we willingly throw things off-balance and tilt in the direction life requires – I wondered if we could view the idea of ‘enough’ as a long-term notion, rather than something we need to achieve every day?

I think we can. And I think we should.

But what does that look like in real life?

Do I play with the kids enough?” Maybe not today, but sometimes clothes need to be washed, emails returned, toilets cleaned and phonecalls made. On the other hand, do I feel good in my gut when I ask if I’ve played with them enough over the past six months? Yes.

Am I trying hard enough?” Some days, I phone it in. And on those days, I am lacking. But, again, over the past 6 months? 2 years? 10 years? Yes, I try hard enough.

There are peaks and troughs, mountains and valleys for everything in life. Sometimes we feel that we are enough, other times we are filled with doubt. I think that’s simply being human. But reframing the idea this way has shown me that enough really IS enough.

But what about when it isn’t enough?

When you ask yourself the question, “Am I doing enough over time?” and the answer is silence. Or worse, when the answer is a pang.

What do you do then?

When that pang reverberates in my gut I know I need to pull up and listen. I know I need to make a change, or ask a different question.

Do I call my best friend enough?” PANG. No. Pay attention and make a change.

Have we made enough time to unplug on the weekends?” PANG. No. What can we do differently?

Am I present enough when I do play with the kids?” PANG. No. How can I change my approach?

My aim, in turning the idea of enough upside down, is to be mindful and intentional about what I’m choosing to do. Instead of being carried away by panic and regret and frustration at not being enough every day.

Essentially that means if I haven’t played with the kids enough, there’d better be a good reason. If I haven’t called my best friend enough, again, show me a good reason.

It’s a matter of listening to your instincts, your gut, and that little voice inside your head that when given a longer view of things suddenly becomes quite wise.

“Relax. You’ve done enough over time. That counts,” it says.

I think it’s time to listen.




5 Responses to Enough

  1. “Over time” as you phrased it is the best solution to determining enough. Who has time or energy for daily question….too much like mewling. I have to get on with doing….time is too short. So I make the plans, work the plans, then do periodic review as my plans, life, circumstances change.

    I think highly of you and as a older woman may I boldly suggest that you give yourself a break.

    • Thanks Gail! I have actually decided to do just that and give myself a break. No awards for the person most likely to crack under pressure! Thank you for your kind words and sharing your experiences. I actually also really love this sentiment: “So I make the plans, work the plans, then do periodic review as my plans, life, circumstances change.” I may just adopt that too. xx

  2. Brooke, I just started reading your blog and it’s so great (heard about you on Courtney Carver’s site) – the issue of “enough” has been popping up all over the place in my life. It’s interesting because the same qualities that help you do all the things that you love (writing, gardening, drinking wine?) also cause that little voice in your head to whisper “do more” “this isn’t enough”. It’s all about balance and getting clear about what REALLY matters. I recently wrote a post about this exact same topic :) I think we all struggle with it, but especially for women, the social pressure to be a perfect friend, wife, sister, or daughter can be really overwhelming at times. You are not alone! Thanks for sharing this, Brooke

    • Sasha, thank you so much for taking the time to leave your thoughts. It’s true – we so often feel as though we’re battling through these feelings of inadequacy all by ourselves, but I think it’s a shared experience. Maybe if we start talking about life in less-than perfect terms, and being real about what it takes to get to that point, maybe the shared experience could be one of contentment instead of frustration. So glad you stopped in to say hi!