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Saturday Bike Rides with Bob: What's Next When Enough is Enough

Posted by Joe Antle on September 13, 2021 4:00 PM EDT
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The discussion in our last Saturday bike ride was inspired by the topic we had tackled in the discussion we had a week earlier, which was....

...focused on the topic of what were ways to leverage improvements in socio-economic problems that could be made at scale.  In that previous discussion, Bob made the point that he believed that large and sustainable solutions could be developed and implemented by individuals and small groups but that doing such large change-even when it benefits huge numbers of people-is something he didn't have much experience, education or faith in.  Rather, he believed that what works best is doing the right things and then leading others to follow one's example, whether that be as a volunteer, a tutor, an author or any number of other smaller-scale endeavors to evoke positive change.

During that discussion, Bob said he wanted to share his thinking about the concept of "enough".  His meaning is that at what point do people have enough or have done enough so that the excess beyond that point could then be channeled to help others who don't have enough.

So, he began this past Saturday's discussion with some of his findings from readings and self-directed study on the concept of why do people feel they most go way beyond what was once enough to get even more than they once felt they needed.  His remarks centered on this being a phenomenon not just of those who are wealthy or who have achieved unparalleled success but to all sectors of the population.  What he said that he also found that was remarkable is that despite this cultural bias to a never-ending question for more-because enough is not even enough, is that those who continue beyond that point never seem to be happy. 

While doing his research, he came upon some findings of people who had embraced the concept of doing other things once they had reached enough.  And that by so doing, relinquished the constant question for more and more than enough.  This led him to conclude that a potential answer is that when individuals in society reach the point in finances, in educational achievements, in achievements in the arts, athletics, careers and more, that the happiest people were those who didn't just wanted to climb ever higher on the same mountain, but rather those who wanted to begin the trek up entirely new mountains.

I asked Bob what he found that was common among these people who found greater happiness in finding what's next when enough is enough.  He said that he found the best practices to be easier to understand when thinking of a simple acronym that has letters that stand for the essential elements that make the newfound pursuit of something totally different once people have achieved, acquired or gained enough-PERMA.  In common speaking, the word Perma insinuates and sustaining feature or characteristic that lasts a long time-as in perma-pressed clothes.  Thus, Bob's sense is that these essential elements could be enduring qualities and characteristics of ever-increasing happiness and satisfaction by moving from enough....to not enough in another area of one's life and pursuits.

Bob's best practice acronym PERMA follows:

P stands for Positivity.  The new quest must be one that is inherently positive in terms of its impact on others and on one's self.

E stands for Engaging.  The new endeavor must be one that fully incorporates the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of one's life.

R stands for Relationships.  The outcomes of this new trek for more in an area not sought before must be able to provide tangible evidence of progress and of accomplishment in ways that enable the development of new relationships with people one has not met before and/or better relationships with those who one already knows and interacts with.

M stands for Meaningful.  The new quest must be worthwhile and provide value for others and improve the lives of other people and of one's own relationships with others.

A stands for Advancement.  The new effort must enable the improvement in one's like and lead to higher levels of accomplishment and achievement in one's influence, skills in new or existing areas of interest and expertise and in the influence of better things for other people.

This concept that finding something more important when one reaches the point of having, being, achieving, acquiring and providing enough is at the heart of the focus on sharing.  It is in this notion that Bob and I agree that the transformation in society to focus on the quest for more than enough should be more egalitarian in the sense that the excess can then be brought to bear to serve other people who don't have enough.  And by reaching into new areas of endeavors once enough becomes enough, leads to further impact in other areas which makes one's life more meaningful and one's contributions to the better good for society a more enduring and lasting legacy for all to emulate.

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