The more I travel, the more I realize that happiness has very little to do with material stuff and has a lot to do with the way we choose to live our lives.  On a philosophical level, happiness is achieved by surrounding ourselves with the people we love, by being present and mindful in our own lives, by participating in meaningful activities -whether these are spiritual or physical- and most importantly, by being grateful, finding purpose and by giving back.

I photographed these children in a remote village on the Central Plateau of Madagsacar. Although incredibly poor, they were generous enough to present me with a gift of fresh sage.

“Enoughness is a word I came across on my travels when I met people that despite lacking material wealth, were immensely happy and felt like they have “enough”. It has to do with taking only what you need and using everything that you take, knowing that doing so will allow others to also have enough.”

– Cristina Mittermeier

Practice Enoughness

1. Care enough to be aware. Make an effort to inform yourself about the potential impact your choices have on our oceans, and therefore the entire human race, and then explore what alternatives might be available.

2. Know that happiness comes from experiences, not things. If you feel a need to purchase something, ask yourself if the need you’re trying to fill can be met in another way. Go for a walk. Read a book. Stand near the ocean. Talk to a friend. Connect to your culture.

3. Commit to making one small change in habit. Some examples include choosing not to take that plastic lid with your coffee-to-go; stop using plastic wrap and choose low packaging options with your purchases. Habits can also be changed around how we purchase clothing, and what we do with clothes we no longer use. Consider shopping second-hand and donating your own used clothes to places that will give them to poor communities around the world.

4. Pay attention to the cost of convenience. Is that plastic bag…straw…spoon…cup…plate …wrapper… bump in the thermostat … really worth it? That fleeting moment of convenience will inconvenience the planet for generations. Having enough doesn’t include leaving a mess that can’t be cleaned up.

5. Shift away from the belief that bigger, newer, faster or more is better. Find ways to fix, repurpose and share. If it’s a time for gift giving and you’re struggling with what to give, make a donation to an organization doing good work in the world in lieu of a gift.

“Enoughness is a sense of fulfillment that comes from within and through our natural environment, rather than through material things; a sense of connectedness to our friends and family, to our spirituality, to our traditions and to our culture.”

– Cristina Mittermeier
Ted Talk about Enoughness