Not enough – too much
It is the constant struggle, not just with food, but in our daily lives overall. And… it is not your fault! We human beings will naturally, under stress, lose touch with what is just right. When we are under stress we lose the big picture overview and the rational thinking and we go into reaction mode, based on old information and instincts. We lose our ability to think new and be discerning.
For example, when we go into overwhelm with too much information, we lose touch with our inner wisdom of know what to eat… and what works for each of our bodies.
When we get stressed out and don’t give ourselves a break (not enough time), we go to the other extreme and crave more time, longer breaks and even more remoteness to disconnect (vacation) or we don’t feel we are good enough at our jobs, so we work even harder to do more. A familiar feeling for most I would expect.
Or when we don’t stop to eat all day, we over eat at night. It is the constant struggle to find the middle way, or as we call it, balance.
The thing with balance is that it is relative, it is not a place or a state. It is the continuous flow of choices that help us navigate, what shows up right in front of us, with direction towards our overall intent (our why), rather than a reaction, which is how most people react under stress. When we don’t pause to check in, observe, reflect and then choose how to act we end up in old habits and repeat mindless patterns.
Maybe take a moment to reflect on your own patterns of too much / not enough.
The Hungry Ghost
A familiar expression for those who has studied Buddhism, and a familiar feeling for any human being is the hungry ghost. It is the name for the constant state of not feeling satisfied. It is depicted as a being with a very narrow throat and very large belly, which makes it impossible to ever get enough food and feel satisfied.
The hungry ghost is within all of us. It is living in our physical, emotional, spiritual and mental realm, affecting our daily choices and our relationship with, not only ourselves, but also everything else.
Let me give you some examples of what I mean. The hungry ghost of never being satisfied becomes a perspective with which we approach life in general and food in particular. It is similar to looking at the glass 1/2 empty or 1/2 full, when really it is always full. It is 1/2 full of water, 1/2 full of air.
Or it is the way we look at what we don’t have in life, rather than what we do have, which is a driving force behind stress. This is also how gratitude works. It is hard to be grateful and graceful when we constantly look for what is not working and what we are not getting and what someone is not doing.
It is a perspective that has us experience life with a certain lens. If I asked you to go out in the world and look for red balloons and you come back and tell me you found 5 and then I ask you how many green did you see, you will say… none, because you were not looking for them.
We tend to only find what we are looking for. So if we are constantly looking for what is not enough, we will constantly find proof of that. For example, if we believe other people are not nice, we will constantly find proof that they are not nice because we are basically meeting them with the filter that says… “I know you are not nice and I am looking for signs that you are not”.
In my TEDx talk about creativity, I talk about how it is not something we are, it is something we nourish and I compare it to luck. I will post a link to it at the end.
It is a life perspective
Basically our perspective directs our experience of life. When that is a “I am hungry and I will never be satisfied” perspective, then that is also how we live our life, it is how we work, it is how we play, it is how we feel and it becomes how we interact in our relationships.
Just pause for a moment to reflect on that. How many times in a day do your thoughts go to something that is not enough. Is it you that is not enough. Acknowledgment that is not enough. Love that is not enough. Money that is not enough. Time that is not enough.
If you observe kids, there is always enough because everything counts. It is later in life that we start learning about loss, about not getting what we want, about disappointment and how to realize that more does not make us happy, better does.
More is not better, better is
Another version of not enough, too much is our constant pursuit of more and faster. Technology, instant messaging, fix my problems now and get rid of discomfort are all in pursuit of satisfaction. We get seduced into thinking that the next thing, the next bite, the next meal, then next drink will make everything better. But it never does, it just makes it more.
If you think of a Chef who is passionate about food, who selects his ingredients with care, who knows the farmer the food is coming from and who dresses the plate so that it is visually pleasing, then you will observe this gentle tension between not enough / too much.
There may be just a morsel of something on the plate and you may think, “that is never going to satisfy me”. Or you may think, “wow, I am looking forward to savoring that small piece”. Your experience will be completely different based on your self-talk as you sit down to enjoy what is on your plate.
More is always thinking forward to the next thing. Better is here right now, noticing, feeling, tasting.
Finding “just enough”
So you may wonder… what then?
With mindfulness we can start noticing when we get that panicky feeling in our bodies that makes us go into BELIEVING that we are not enough, or something is not enough. It is a perspective remember, not the truth. The problem is that feeling “not enough” feels very real.
That is why mindfulness is so important. Are you willing to pause for a moment and just wonder if it is true?
Now if it is true that something is not enough, that you are not doing enough in this moment, or that something more is needed to make it better, then do that. Mindfully. But do it well-knowing that the hungry ghost is there too, trying to trick you into more-more-more, and IT needs YOU to be in charge. It needs you to notice, to observe, to reflect and to choose what is “just enough” so that more is not better, better is.
Here is my TEDx talk about creativity.