Authors: Wayne Muller
Tags: #Body; Mind & Spirit, #Inspiration & Personal Growth
More Praise for
A Life of Being, Having, and
“This book is a timely and invaluable resource to help us remember what is truly important and meaningful in our lives. It provides the reader a place of solace, sanctuary, reflection, and realignment toward an inherent Way of Being—in the midst of life’s busyness and fast pace!”
—Angeles Arrien, PhD, author of
The Second Half of Life: Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom
“This wise and compassionate book helps us recognize and receive what we already have and offers us a place of refuge, renewal, and peace. A must-read for anyone who has ever felt ‘It’s never enough.’”
—Rachel Naomi Remen, MD, author of
Kitchen Table Wisdom
My Grandfather’s Blessings
“Once again Wayne Muller has taken compassion-in-action to a new level through his marvelous and timely new book. Wayne highlights one of the key distinctions of our time: to recognize that we already are, have, and do enough just as we are. By beautifully illustrating how ‘enough’ looks and feels, he offers the reader a tremendous gift. This is the fundamental context of sufficiency—and of living a happy, fulfilled life of meaning. It’s also the basis for sharing and collaboration, essential elements in turning the tide at this pivotal time in human history.”
—Lynne Twist, president, Soul of Money Institute, and author of
The Soul of Money
“This is a soul-sized book for sure. We are so busy pursuing too many goals and straining ourselves to death in the process. We are ‘catching up’ forever, doing-doing-doing all the time, stressed out and pushing ourselves to achieve and acquire in order to fill the emptiness in our souls. Wayne Muller counsels us to slow down, to accept ourselves and our limits, to enjoy just being the creatures we are in this universe. He teaches us to say ‘enough’ in a raging world of ceaseless activity, of self-imposed 24/7 tiredness. Reading this book is healthy—it will quiet the restless heart and encourage a thankful simplicity that brings peace to the soul.”
—Stephen Post, author of
Why Good Things Happen to Good People
A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough
is a compelling, thought-provoking meditation on what truly matters in life. True to form, Wayne Muller shares life-changing advice and inspiration.”
—Daniel Goleman, author of
ALSO BY WAYNE MULLER
Learning to Pray: How We Find Heaven on Earth
Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives
How, Then, Shall We Live? Four Simple Questions That Reveal the Beauty and Meaning of Our Lives
Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantages of a Painful Childhood
my true companion
the thread I follow
with whom everything
a life made of days
living a life of enough
Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.
This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
A Life of Enough
e have forgotten what
We live in a world seduced by its own unlimited potential. We are driven by a presumptive grandiosity that any economic, social, or political limitations can seemingly be over come with more speed or technology. But for us, as human beings, our limitations remain constant, eternal, fully intact. Rather than feeling large and omnipotent, our own very limited, human days are likely to feel more cramped, overgrown, and choked by impossible responsibilities. At worst, we feel powerless; no matter how strong our hearts, or how good or kind our intentions, each day the finish line seems farther away, the bar keeps rising, nothing is ever finished, nothing ever good enough. So we work and add and never stop, never back away, never feel complete, and we despair of ever finding comfort, relief, or sanctuary.
So many good-hearted people I know are exhausted. For the past fifteen years, I have spoken with many rich, diverse groups of loving, caring people. Wherever I go, I find myself so deeply saddened by how the world is placing increasingly impossible pressures and responsibilities on ordinary people who are simply doing what they can to help make their families,
their communities, or their world somehow better, more beautiful, more whole.
I am privileged to meet with groups both large and small. Whether they are parents or teachers, business people or community volunteers, doctors, clergy, nurses, or civil servants, they each in their own way feel victim to a relentless assault of increasing expectations, activities, demands, and accomplishments that overwhelms any spaciousness or ease in their daily lives.
They confess they feel overwhelmed, and what is required of them transcends any realistic human scale or possibility. However sweet or nourishing the fruits of their work may be for themselves or others, nothing they do ever feels like enough. Even worse, the sheer pace and volume of their lives seems to corrode whatever joy, wonder, nourishment, or delight they may find in simply doing their best. It has become so much more difficult to make peace with any job well done or any day well spent.
What has so changed us? What has so radically transformed our world that we so easily surrender our hope of any reliable, trustworthy permission to pause, gently put aside our day’s work, take our nourishment, or find peace or sufficiency in
for today? What deep and poignant confusion has so infected our hearts that we feel incapable of remembering this most essential, human offering: to do what we can and have mercy?
What if we have been sent spinning by the loss of some deeply elemental knowing, some reliable inner compass, some way of sensing the moment of inherent sufficiency in things, forgotten what enough of anything feels like—enough work,
enough success, enough love, enough security, enough wealth, enough care for our children, enough generosity, enough clothing, shelter, enough daily bread?
In the Genesis story, the Creator works for six days, shaping the green, fluid beauty of the earth with life everywhere: birds and fish and beasts of the fields, verdant trees, flowers, fragrances wafting gently on breezes that circle this fresh, fertile orb of life. On the seventh day, the Creator rests. For now, this is enough. In the Hebrew Bible, the word for this rest can literally be read, “And God exhaled.”
. When do
exhale? Perhaps, like God, we exhale when we feel certain that our good and necessary work is done. What then
our work on the earth? In a world gone mad with speed, potential, and choice, we continually overestimate what we can do, build, fix, care for, or make happen in one day. We overload our expectations on ourselves and others, inflate our real and imaginary responsibilities, until our fierce and tender human hearts finally collapse under the relentless pressure of impossible demands.
No living organism can sustain this kind of violent overwork before it breaks, or dies. In addition to numerous, well-documented benefits of a more gently restful life on our overall health—increased longevity, reduction in stress, a stronger immune system, increased happiness and well-being, among many others—there are religious precepts and commandments, like the Sabbath commandment in the Hebrew Bible, that prescribe days of rest, prayer, nourishment and renewal as essential to a life well lived. Why, then, are we so reluctant to ever stop, be still, or allow our work to feel sufficient for this day?
In spite of any compelling physical or spiritual benefits, we fear we have no authentic, trustworthy permission to stop. If we do stop to rest without some very good reason or some verifiable catastrophe, we feel guilty, we worry about getting in trouble, we feel we are just lazy, not carrying our weight, not a team player, or will be left behind. If we just put our nose to the grindstone, give it our all, do our best, give 110 percent, really put our mind to it, never give up, and work more efficiently, then we can, and should, be able to get absolutely everything on our desk, on our to-do list, on our calendars, finished, on deadline, without any mistakes, perfectly, every time.
Then, we can rest.
But this ridiculously impossible moment never arrives; and we cannot take that first step back. So we keep going. And going. Without permission from our culture, workplace, community, or even our own inner, grinding work ethic, how can we know it is time to stop—for now, for today—and know that what we have done, and who we have been, is absolutely enough? It is time to put it down, let it be, go home, and call it a day.