How much is enough?

Two protesters hold up signs: Peace. . . and Quiet

One of the questions I often ask myself is How much is enough?

For example, I have been fortunate to have jobs that have enabled me to buy a car I enjoy. What I have seen myself doing over the years is buying better and better cars. I enjoy cars and the technology they have, but at some point, it has to stop. I just can’t continue to spend money on better cars or I won’t have money for other things that are more important.

Two protesters hold up signs: Peace. . . and Quiet
Two protesters hold up signs: Peace. . . and Quiet

Don’t misunderstand. I am buying cars that I can easily afford and that are fun to drive on my 2-hour daily commute. Having a reliable, safe, and comfortable car is logical and reasonable. However, part of me that researches new cars always says “Wow what if you tried this car or brand instead?” It might be fun, but it is not necessary.

Why not spend money on cars if you have the money? I have seen that when I go to extremes I am not happy. I have seen this in others as well. I once worked for a boss who had a wife, mistress and saw other women on the side. I thought that was interesting. I am not judging him for this, but he was very unhappy and that clearly didn’t help him.

If money was no object I would want to drive and experience the most expensive cars. Would that make me happier? Not really. It would provide me with information that I don’t have, but often that information comes at too high of a price. For example, I bought a luxury car once and it was a complete waste of money. It wasn’t the experience that I thought it would be, and what others said about it. For me, that knowledge wasn’t worth the price I paid.

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So I have had the curious experience that it is often more satisfying to rent a nice car. I am able to drive it for a while and decide if it really makes me happy or not. I have rented many cars in my life, and I am so grateful for that opportunity. Why? Because I know many cars and manufacturers that I would not want to buy. If I hadn’t rented those cars I might have thought a test drive was ok in them, but a test drive really isn’t enough to make you decide on buying a car.

I had the great experience once of having a weekend test drive of a luxury car. In fact, I later bought that car. I was so impressed with that short experience that it seemed like the right decision at the time.

The question is though How much is enough? What do we need to be happy? Isn’t it interesting that we only ask this when we have more than enough to satisfy our needs? Asking what we need to be happy is so first world isn’t it? The rest of the world is focused on getting the basics of shelter, food, and income and we can’t be satisfied with all that we have.

Every time I want to buy something better I take stock of my life and feel grateful for the things that I have. I could not have imagined in the wildest dreams of my youth to have the life I have now. Not because of the material things that I have, but because of my maturing personality.

A luxury car is nice if you enjoy that, but the true luxury is to be at peace with who you are.

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