How much is enough?

silhouette photography of group of people jumping during golden time
Photo by Belle Co on

Funny story. On my morning walk last week, I bumped into a friend who I haven’t seen for 20 years. The last time we saw each other, way too many frozen margaritas were consumed, and I had to get a taxi from Manly in Sydney to Surry Hills because I missed the last ferry back to the city. That cost about $100 back then so it was a very expensive night out. I’d like to say that now we are older and wiser, and we both definitely have far more life experience. She’s spent 17 years working in south-east Asia and I had 11 years in London. And now, we’re living in the same suburb and are also both funemployed.

Naturally, we met over a few wines on a lazy Sunday afternoon to fill in the blanks from the past two decades. Not all blanks have been filled so it’s likely more wine will be needed. But it was just so fabulous to speak with a wonderful friend who also happens to be a professional inspiration.

Life has taken us both on very interesting paths since we last met over margaritas. She’s had some unhappy family times and huge professional success and I’ve had my own struggles with professional burnout and some interesting personal challenges. And with that context, we got to talking about happiness. She had a refreshing view, which is the best we can expect is moments of joy and that is enough. To hope for or expect, consistent happiness in our lives is Utopian but ultimately going to lead to disappointment and unhappiness. Oh, the irony.

I really enjoyed that conversation and having reflected on it for a few days since those wines I have had to ask myself: “How much is enough happiness”? Are all moments of joy equal? Is a daily moment of joy enough, or is hourly more impactful? How many moments of joy are needed to negate moments of unhappiness? Is, say, finding a $10 note on the ground a sufficient joyful moment to wipe out the experience of a missing a flight?

Being an over-thinker, I went around and around trying to formulate the perfect equation to measure ‘enough’ moments of joy. There were too many variables and we’re not talking apples and apples here. So I decided that for me, ‘enough’ is when there is more joy than unhappiness in my life. Now that could get tricky if I try to measure it daily because some days are better than others. I’ve had some really shitty days which have needed many moments of joy to net out.

I’m an optimistic person, which I believe makes it easier to find those moments of joy, be it a dog frolicking on the beach or nailing a PB when deadlifting. And I also think that the bad moments have less of an impact if I’m focussed on looking for the good moments. The power of a positive mental attitude is extraordinary. It makes it easier to enjoy the highs and builds resilience to charter the lows.

So that’s how much happiness is enough for me. How much do you need?

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