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By Vicki Sternfeld-Rossi
The Times 

How Much is Enough?


Lane Gwinn Graphic

I recently saw a New York Times headline: "The Finnish Secret to Happiness? Knowing When You Have Enough." For the past six years, Finland has had the distinction of achieving the top ranking by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network on its World Happiness Report. The article then includes interviews they conducted with Finns from various walks of life and locations within Finland.

Many of the people interviewed expressed relief that Finland has a robust safety network because, like all populations, there is unemployment, anxiety, and other related issues. One of the interviewees concluded, "It's not that we're that happy, but we are content."

A Finnish professor described the overall satisfaction and contentedness, "when you know what is enough, you are happy."

Enough for who? And of what?

The article made me think, "what is enough for me?" How many plants do I need in my garden to make me happy? I need enough to enjoy and share with neighbors and friends.

How many days a week do I need to play tennis to make me happy? Every day, but I need to find more people to play with. Then again, I am playing quite a lot now and feel it in my bones, muscles, and exhaustion. However, it's a happy exhaustion. My equation is that more tennis = more calories burned = more food and wine = I'm happy.

How much is enough snow in April? None is enough for me. This past Sunday, Daniel and I hosted our first brunch of 2023 with the caveat, "brunch is on unless it's snowing or raining." Mother Nature accommodated with her keen sense of humor. There was no snow or rain on Sunday, but Waitsburg woke up to snow on Monday.

I just realized we had gone through more than sixty pounds of birdseed in the last few weeks, and it's still snowing. Until recently, I could never imagine we would have more than enough birds eating from our feeders. This year, we may not have enough in the bank to feed the birds and us. That, for sure, would limit "my happy quotient."

How much is enough sleep? I don't know, but it's more than I am getting. My insomnia has returned. Luckily since we spend so much on birdseed, there is little money left for insomniac online shopping. We already have enough of everything and then some, except for sleep.

What and how much is enough for me to be happy and content? First, any cheese, and then lots of tennis. More importantly and enough for me: wonderful family, an exceptional partner who cooks, great friends, and neighbors who I can count on to be my safety net.


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