How Much Is Enough?

Does envy have you trying to “keep up with the Joneses?” Do you have a closet or segment of your home dedicated to barely-used items that now just take up space? Many Americans do a pretty good job at thinking of wants as needs. For instance, many sources note that while the United States holds less than 5% of the world’s population, we consume around a quarter of energy and other resources.

You’d think that with all the extra stuff and the money we use to buy it we must be happier, right? Not according to the World Economic Forum. According to a measure known as the Happiness Index (six significant factors which contribute to happiness), “although the US ranks highly for per capita income, it is only ranked 18th out of 156 countries, substantially below most comparably wealthy nations.”

Of course, per capita income stats are deceiving. Disparity runs deep in America. Millions of people live in deep poverty, not only lacking in material needs, but also the basics of adequate shelter and healthy food. While necessary, charitable responses can only go so far. Some would argue that structural changes are needed to reduce the suffering of the have-nots (e.g. changes to economic assistance, housing, and tax policy).  In other words, more must be asked of the rest of us.

So, how much is enough? This is not simply an economic question. It’s environmental as well.

Humanity is currently consuming resources at a pace faster than the Earth’s ecological systems can renew them. Collectively, we have significantly passed the planet’s regeneration line.

That brings up a couple of important questions for America and Americans: Should there be limits to how much a person, a community, or our country can have or consume? And, if so, should it be up to the individual, our government, or some independent standard to measure if we’ve reached the point of adequate consumption and/or possession?

How much is enough?

Related questions:  How Can We Appreciate Life More?What Material Possession Means The Most To You?What Makes You The Happiest?What Are Our Responsibilities To Others?

How Does Creative Expression Help Us to Know Ourselves Better?

I have several songs in my music collection that speak to me. There’s a dance performance that moves me every time I see it. And an essay from my favorite author helped form my beliefs as I was developing my own political identity.

It seems art can sometimes communicate directly with our soul. How does creative expression help us to know ourselves better?

Related questions: Why do we like what we like? What are the benefits of fiction? Why does music evoke emotion?

What Amazes You?

I’m amazed by things big (like the universe) and small (like an heirloom seed). One is 13.8 billion years old and dying very slowly. The other is sitting in dormancy until the right conditions allow it to give birth to another version of itself.

What amazes you? All answers — grandiose and / or commonplace — are welcomed.

Related questions: How can we maintain wonder?  What is important? Why do we like what we like? Why are things amazing?

When Is Doubt Helpful?

Our doubts can range from healthy skepticism to unhealthy paralysis. Everything from questioning someone’s intentions to doubting our faith (or lack of it) can be beneficial or crisis-inducing.

When is doubt helpful? Or, more specifically, how do you know when it’s good to listen to that inner voice of doubt?

Related questions:  What do you do that you shouldn’t? When is it useful to fail? What is necessary to change your mind? How important is intuition?

When Is It Useful To Fail?

The saying goes, “I would have rather have tried and failed than to have never tried at all.”  Is this true?  Doesn’t some failure have far too lasting and unwanted consequences?  Still, we would learn or experience very little if we stuck to doing what’s already comfortable to us.  And, trying new things we might fail at for awhile can be enriching and exciting.

So, when is it useful to fail?  What level of failure do you find acceptable?  What are your limits?

Related questions:  How do you define success?  Do we learn more from our successes or failures?  Is it okay to be wrong sometimes?