Here’s a very simple question with a not so simple answer – How much is enough? Apply this to anything to start to grasp the meaning of the question – enough income, enough baseball cards, enough savings, enough video games, etc etc.

There has been the philosophical discussion throughout the ages of enough, and how it relates to how we as humans treat our possessions, our lives, and ourselves?

Modern society (at least American society) is extraordinarily based on consumerism. Consume, Consume, Consume. You always need this new thing. What’s that? Your old thing works fine? No, you’re wrong, this new thing is so much better and will bring all of these amazing things into your life!

I read a short essay last year about this idea as it relates to people’s psychology. The example was someone who wanted to be a runner. They get excited about the idea. They are totally into it. But instead of just going out and running they start thinking – well I am going to be a runner, so I need runner’s gear. New shoes, running shorts, a fitness tracker, an armband for my phone, and so on. All that shit is bought, and then what happens?! Items arrive, maybe they go running once and everything is never used again! Why is that?

In that person’s mind, they have already accomplished their goal. They are a runner – once they hit that “Buy” button on Amazon their brain interpreted that as accomplishing the goal. But obviously without achiveving the what that personal originally wanted to – getting healthier, having more endurance, and getting stronger physically. Oh, but it did add to the credit card bill!

The takeaway for that lesson was to trick yourself into “earning” whatever you wanted to by. You want to be a runner? Great! Go running. Do it a bunch. If you are able to keep it up (and hopefully you can) then you have proven to yourself that you are a runner. Now you can maybe get some stuff to make your running life easier. But you did the work FIRST.

I have read many stories of rich folks who have copious amounts of money, and who also wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night with a crippling nightmare of them running out of money. Reasonably the chances of that happening is extraordinarily low. So why does it happen?

As mentioned above, our entire society is engineered to work off of this “never satisfied” mentality. That may be all well and good for the economy, but it also has the unfortunate effect of doing some real damage to you average person’s psyche. This process is teaching them that you can never, ever be satisfied with what you have. And this effect i felt by everyone, even people who feel that they “know better!”

Companies with more money than you and I will ever make in a lifetime (times hundreds) spend even more money to learn how to affect human psychology and bend it to their own ends. So what are we to do?

The answer is simple – thought. Mindfulness. There is so secret sauce, just learn to present in your thoughts and in your life. It is not a quick answer, a quick fix. But it will set you up to not only not fall prey to these manufactured impulses, but also build a path to happiness that is independent of material things.