the Timex watch is good enough
Good enough. The first hit off that phrase is one of "settling for less". Like it's "just ok", "I guess it's good enough", sigh. Enough implies that it's just not the best, like the best is totally possible and enough is for lazy people or people who don't really care for themselves, you know, enough. The pursuit of the best is so American and 21st century and enough just feels so not that.
And yet I've been thinking about the idea of enough lately. It seems to me that maybe it's not such a bad thing after all. That in fact it might just be a wonderful thing, this idea of enough. Not like "enough is enough", the ultimatum, but rather enough like "thanks I'm full, I'm OK, I'm just fine". It seems that choosing things that are good enough is a very freeing idea and practice. It's not some philosophical rejection of all things, but rather the acceptance that some things work just fine for a particular task, and then being freed up to do something else instead of searching for the best in whatever you're looking for.
a toasted cheese sandwich is definitely good enough
Now don't get me wrong here. I'm not saying "good enough" is right for all things. I think it is worthwhile for example, to look for the best medical care you can get or the best person to spend the rest of your life with. In some things looking for the best makes all the sense in the world. And if good enough is accepted for a lot of things, think of all the time that will be freed up to find the best in other things that are more important.
There has been some discussion about the idea of enough in the media of late too. Barry Schwartz, the author of the great book, "The Paradox of Choice" talks about the idea of enough in an interview from the blog good experience. He says, "learn that "good enough is good enough." You don't need the best; probably never do. On rare occasions it's worth struggling to find the best. But generally it makes life simpler if you settle with "good enough." You don't have to make an exhaustive search - just until you find something that meets your standards, which could be high. But the only way to find the absolute best is to look at ALL the possibilities. And in that case you'll either give up, or if you choose one, you'll be nagged by the possibility that you may have found something better." Makes a lot of sense to me. Not only does searching for the best take tons of time, but also the idea that only the best will do means that you're never really happy with what you get anyway. Ick.
a basic white tee is good enough for almost any occasion in my mind
Another interesting person commenting on the idea of "enough" and simplicity is the professor John Maeda from the MIT Media Lab. Recently on his simplicity blog he talked about the idea that good enough is good enough. I hadn't thought about enough the way he talks about it here. That the best is fleeting anyway, so why act like good enough isn't good enough, when it actually usually is.
And then enough comes up again this morning in the article "Greening Up With the Jones" in the New York Times about how being Green is complicated and once you decide you want to be Greener , it's kind of a slippery slope once you start. Where does one stop? Is it possible to be green and still a comfortable lifestyle, the article asks? Or as one person interviewed put it, "it would be nice to have a little nicer house than this, but we really don't need it. What's enough? How much do we need to enjoy life and get by?" All good questions and more along the lines that I've been thinking.
So in the end, I'm thinking enough is a good thing. I want to think about this more. I'm not necessarily in search of the "best" idea of enough. Just one that is good enough, you know.