How much is enough?

When to stop? How far to push the limits? When does a habit turn into an obsession? How many helpings of a tasty stew is it okay to take? How many beers is too much?

Travelling in Nepal I came across liters and liters of tasty tea. In Nepal it is common to drink a cup a few times a day. When a cup is enjoyed, however, it is custom not to ask for more. A tea pause lasts as long as one cup of tea lasts. That’s it. One cup each is enough for everybody.

I find our culture to be characterized by a lack of framework, lack of scale, lack of socially accepted norms as to the concept of enough. Just take coffee shops for an example. A decade ago a regular cup of 2 dl of coffee was the standard. Now, however, ordering a cup of coffee will get you half a liter of hot and tasty beverage! Similarly, a person finding out ways to get more and more money or bigger and bigger houses is appreciated. The culture seems to reward people who do not know when to say, “this is enough.”

Saying “this is enough” is a sign of being content. There seem to be forces in our culture acting against being content. Being content means being average, having given up.  You should be the smartest, most successful or most beautiful. What we are looking at here is essentially a battle between hedonism and stoicism. I would like to lift the stoic values out of the disgrace they have fallen into.  Stoicism is not only for the disillusionized average performers. It is great wisdom to say how much is enough. Be it tea, coffee, stew or money.

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