Tuesday, 11 September 2012

doing enough

I have a problem with "enough." I often feel like I could do more, or should do more. More as a parent, more as a wife, more as a friend, more as an employee, more as a volunteer. I collapse into bed some nights, weary but wishing for that more. Thinking I haven't done enough that day.

I'm reading a very good book right now - perfect for this time of year when I tend to take on more. It's called A Life of Being, Having and Doing Enough by Wayne Muller.

One part that I read last week has stuck with me. He writes about resetting our inner thermostat - that we all have a regulator inside ourselves that tells us when we are doing enough or too much. When we know how to "read" our body, it can tell us when our activity level has reached a comfortable level, or when it is uncomfortably busy.

BUT many people don't take time to read their inner thermostat (like me). Or the thermostat is broken and the house is on fire.

How do we know when we have taken on too much? Muller recommends asking this question when you approach a new task or responsibility:
  • Am I truly able to say that I really love this or is it more honest to say that I can handle this?
He says that if we take on too many things that we can merely "handle", then we get to a point where we feel we are barely able to handle our days - that we have too much. If we choose based on things we love, we are more likely to be nourished and feel "enough" at the end of the day. 

I struggle with this. I know I tend to take things on with the "I can handle this" attitude. Because I think "well, SOMEONE has to do this." If I'm at a committee meeting, I want it to end as soon as possible so I go away with more jobs than I probably should, just to speed the meeting along and because I can handle it. Or so I think.

But I want to keep this love/handle question in front of me this fall. I want to hit my pillow at night and think "That was a good day. That was enough."


  1. Rebecca, the love/handle thing is pretty powerful. When I was in between jobs, thinking about what I should do next, I ran across a series of resources geared to a corporate audience about "playing to your strengths" which is essentially the same thing. If you've got 30 minutes after you've "done enough" for the day the 2 links below are 2 parts of a video called Trombone Player Wanted. They've really inspired me be a bit more discerning and play to my strengths more often.

    Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GGB_d8FZig&feature=share&list=UL4GGB_d8FZig

    Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nfkc-yj4yq4&feature=share&list=ULNfkc-yj4yq4

    BTW, I realized how important the "/" was in your love/handle question. without it we'd be talking about love handles and that's a whole other set of discussions :)



  2. Hey! Yes - I'll have to do another post on love handles. And the question of enough/too much in terms of size of love handles. :)

    I LOVED that Trombone Player Part 1. I'll watch part 2 tomorrow. For today, 1 was enough because it gives me lots to chew on. Very inspirational. Plus he's got a great accent. Anyway, strikes me as a fitting way to talk about the church too - to play to your strengths, and volunteer them whenever you can.

  3. ya, the accent got me hooked right from the start :)

  4. Plus he's easy on the eyes.
    Just watched part 2. I like his definition of strengths as those things that make you feel strong and magnificent.

  5. I like his definition of a hobby too :)

  6. Something where you have a huge appetite for it, but little ability? Yes - I liked that too.

  7. I think I will read this. thanks for the insight!

    1. No problem! I'm really enjoying it - easy, short chapters - good for reading at bedtime.