I love that title, it makes me seem mad, and to a certain extent I am. However, the real point of the post is going to be what is enough. I'll give credit where credit is due.... The ideas for this post come directly from Sara who often has some very insightful posts. You should visit her.
Anyway, I like to discuss simplicity and how to live with less. Then comes the big question, how much is enough? I really get torn on this topic. A book that I highly recommend, Your Money or Your Life, suggests that 'enough' depends on the individual person and their circumstances. Everyone likes that, it's cute and it means that I can say, "Yeah, I'm at that level so I don't have to do anything to change". Then I can live a stagnant life and think real highly of myself for my conformity to ideals that I like.
I really don't like relativism. My personal views of this world are pretty black and white. I think there is truth and error. It doesn't depend on what you believe, what religion you belong to or how much money you have. There is truth and if it isn't truth it is error. You can criticize me for that if you want, but you're wrong. (that was an attempt at philosophical humor.) In all honesty, one of the truths that I hold at the greatest value is that of respect. Even if you don't agree with me, I respect your views. In fact, I would like to hear your views because I don't claim to have a monopoly on truth. I may want to discuss our differences and that may be perceived as an argument (my appologies for that), but I do want to know why you believe what you do and I'm unwilling to accept your idea of truth without questioning it.
I got off task, that relativism is a tough subject for me. What really gets to me is the idea that we can do whatever we want and still think we're doing everything right. Isn't this life about growing and improving? So shouldn't we set our sights on an idealistic goal and pursue it? Sure we may never make it, but I would rather live a life striving for purpose than to live a life of complacency.
I want to live a simple life. I have read Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse and I admire that level of simplicity. Abandoning all of your possessions except a loin cloth. Relying on the kindness of others for food and all of your needs. There's something beautiful about it. On my visit to Wikipedia, I just noticed that Siddhartha means, "he who has attained his goals", I like that. Is that my goal in life? I don't think so. I have a wife and family that I want to support. They are of the utmost importance to me and I want them to be a part of my simple lifestyle.
So here I am, still stuck. How much is enough? In this story a loincloth was enough for the man. If I say that I need more than that to have enough, doesn't that mean that I'm taking a relativist approach? I really don't like relativism. Hypothetically we'll say that the story took it too far. In reality a 1,000 square foot house is the perfect size for a family of 4. Does that mean I get another 250 square feet because I just had another kid? Does that mean that all of the people in the world who have less than 250 square feet each don't have enough? Oddly enough, many of those people with 'less' are happier and, as far as the important things in life go, they have more.
So maybe the goal isn't how to limit stuff, but rather how to maximize happiness. I truly believe that happiness comes through simplicity and spending time with and interacting with people rather than stuff. So who is the happiest person alive? I don't have a clue. I doubt that it corresponds with money or stuff. I would consider myself a competitor for the happiest man alive (although I really don't know how to measure it), and I am pretty sure I'm below the poverty line. What I lack in money, I more than compensate for with a wonderful family and being able to spend time with them. There is a lot I still want to do with my life, especially in the area of simplifying.
Maybe that is the underlying truth. Maybe it is the pursuit of truth that brings happiness. I really like that idea, except that different people have different ideas of truth which leads us back to the problem of relativism. I don't have answers (which anyone who reads this blog regularly already knew), but I want to know what you think.