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Have You Done Enough Today?

As we approach Labor Day, have you ever wondered if you’re doing enough? Or, do you, like me, find it hard to stop? Wayne Muller, author of “A Life of Being, Having and Doing Enough” has some insights that were spot on for me.

Zen garden in a top view with a stone and his harmony wavesDo you ever wonder, as I do, did I choose the right work to do today? Did I make the right decisions? And, did I do enough?

That’s the hard one. In today’s world, with so much information coming at me, so much to do, and so much to learn, even deciding what to do is nerve-wracking.

Often, at the end of the day, I’m stressed – realizing that, despite all my accomplishments, there was twice as much I wanted to do but couldn’t. (I’m not just talking about work – there’s family, meditation, exercise, even the work of feeding my husband and me.) Planning a day is challenging!

Last week I walked away from “the line” to attend a fascinating and healing workshop retreat.

It should have been easy to attend the retreat.  It wasn’t. I almost didn’t go.

Given the exhilaration, commitment and near obsession I’ve been feeling around re-building my practice, stopping is hard. With a challenging and growing list of to do’s facing me, it was tempting to cancel my registration so I could stay put and get more accomplished.

Fortunately, better sense prevailed.

Recently, my friend Madie gifted me a copy of Wayne Muller’s A Life of Being, Having And Doing Enough – and I’ve been reading it ravenously looking for clues for understanding: How much is enough?

a life of being, having and doing enough

Muller hooked me on page one:

“We live in a world seduced by its own unlimited potential…But for us, as human beings, our limitations remain constant, eternal, fully intact. Rather than feeling large and omnipotent, our own very limited, human days are likely to feel more cramped, overgrown, and choked by impossible responsibilities.

At worst, we feel powerless; no matter how strong our hearts, or how good or kind our intentions, each day the finish line seems farther away, the bar keeps rising, nothing is ever finished, nothing ever good enough. So we work and add and never stop, never back away, never feel complete, and we despair of ever finding comfort, relief, or sanctuary.

So many good-hearted people I know are exhausted.”

He could have written that specifically for me.

He continues:
“They confess they feel overwhelmed, and what is required of them transcends any realistic human scale or possibility. However sweet or nourishing the fruits of their work may be for themselves or others, nothing they do ever feels like enough.

Even worse, the sheer pace and volume of their lives seems to corrode whatever joy, wonder, nourishment, or delight they may find in simply doing their best. It has become so much more difficult to make peace with any job well done or any day well spent.”

He’s so right. In my obsessiveness, I’m shorting myself on what I want the most: peace and a sense of fulfillment.

I devoured Muller’s words hoping that he would quickly suggest how to resolve the unsustainable pressure I feel. Just buying a new (and essential) keyboard took hours of research – and then there was deciding whether to attend a professional conference and checking out travel arrangements. My life gets consumed by the volume of decisions (often not earth-shaking) I need to make.

Not surprisingly, Muller doesn’t offer us a quick fix.

He describes how enoughness begins with our felt experiences, a process of tuning into our bodies. Enoughness is not a fixed state, but emerges out of a dynamic relationship with our environment that changes moment by moment by moment.

Recognizing what is enough requires deep listening, paying attention to our inner clarity and wisdom, and a willingness to allow an inner knowing to prevail over the clamor of a world only too ready to scream its demands and tell us what to do.

To claim our enoughness we must follow our inner compass, our visceral knowing, and “name with unwavering certainty the truth of who we are, what we need, and what we know to be true about ourselves in this moment.”

We must claim our wholeness and decide what is right and true for us.

Definitely not a quick fix but worth pondering, how do we get there?

There are so many gems in Muller’s book – I’m going to share more. But today, let me practice by declaring this chunk of writing to be enough. Today, I won’t try to find the perfect headline or the perfect picture.

Today, I’ll send hopes that you can take Labor Day as a day to enjoy the fullness of your life – not just your labors.

4 Responses

  1. Great article again, Sally! Thanks for the reminder to take a day off.

    I ran across a relevant quote about 25 years ago that has always stuck with me:
    I’ll paraphrase:

    “Work can always expand to fill whatever time we give it. Time is finite, it is work that is iinfinite.”

    Thanks again! Laura

  2. I meant to request notifications. I love the conversation. Please respond to this one so I can see your thoughts. L

    Great article again, Sally! Thanks for the reminder to take a day off.

    I ran across a relevant quote about 25 years ago that has always stuck with me:
    I’ll paraphrase:

    “Work can always expand to fill whatever time we give it. Time is finite, it is work that is iinfinite.”

    Thanks again! Laura

  3. Laura,

    I understand what you mean – especially in the days of Internet access 24-7 – work can seem infinite.

    The irony, though, when you think about it, is that the spirit of human beings should be infinite and work finite….sometimes it slips into feeling the other way around.

    Thanks for commenting!

  4. Even though I just read this long after Labor Day, it’s timely food for thought. I always feel like there’s not enough time to accomplish my looooooong to-do list! Thanks for this post that made me take a moment and look at my own stuff in terms of “enough.”

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