2018: Most Influential Book
This summer, I was psychologically out of sorts and filled with despair for no good reason. I’ve been prone to these blue periods throughout my life.
So… in a season when I found myself at the top of my game professionally… when I found myself with a beautiful wife and daughter… when I found myself in the best physical shape of my life… I could not, for the life of me, figure out why I was so miserable.
I didn’t keep count of the number of books I read throughout the year. A reconstructed list has 56 entries. But I’m really terrible at remembering all of them… because they may have failed to make an impact.
There was one, however, that changed the way I view the world.
Independently published in 2016 and spanning 137 pages, Enough is a slim volume of essays that cuts to the heart of many modern societal ills. This is not a collection of rants. Rather, Rhone provides for us a way forward. And it is perhaps more important now than on the day it was originally published.
There are plenty of books focusing on minimalism. Bloggers tout it as a life-changing religion. There are documentaries and television segments. Everything is white and gray and sparse. And while there is no doubt it is in the best interests of our mental health to minimize, minimalists can be a bit over the top. It is as if the movement has become a form of perfectionism leading to increased rather than decreased anxiety. That very well could be the definition of a “cult.”
Instead of the deprivation of stark minimalism or the emptiness of rampant consumerism, Rhone advocates for balance… or… Enough.
What is enough for you will be different from what is Enough for me. Also, what is Enough for each of us will change with changing conditions.
It is highly personal. It is a never-ending process of questioning, reflection and introspection. And Rhone is very clear… “Enough is hard work.”
But that work does become easier over time when asking the essential questions as detailed in the Introduction. Those questions help you reach the goal… which is…
The goal… is not to find what is, or will be, Enough forever. That is impossible. The goal is to discover the tools and strategies you need to find what is Enough for you right now and provide the flexibility to adjust as the conditions change.
Read that quote again. The goal is not some utopian state of perfect minimalism.
The goal is attainable… by such flawed beings as ourselves. It is in accepting the foibles and eccentricities of humanity that makes this idea of Enough so important.
Enough allows for the flexibility of changing conditions… because we live in a world that changes on a second to second basis. Enough allows for change… something for which the adherents of stark minimalism fail to account.
In a social media driven world where comparing oneself against the Instabook-perfect lives that we see is a disease (fatal at times), Enough lets humanity off the hook and allows the individual to determine their definitions of the term. And it allows the individual to be… well… individual.
You’re not them. You don’t have to be them. And by the end of Enough, you’re not going to want to remotely resemble them.
After explaining Enough to us with a refreshing, direct honesty yet in a heartfelt tone, Rhone provides some guidance on the practical ways of achieving the goal. He discusses purpose-driven tools and provides concrete strategies. He believes (as do I) that we need to slow down, reflect and then act. His suggested actions are always focused on increasing, rather than decreasing, our personal freedom.
And along the way, Rhone has pointed criticisms of our current technopoly. I believe that somewhere Dr. Neal Postman beams with pride.
Enough came to me from an unexpected source in an unexpected way. These sorts of serendipities restore my faith in humanity. They remind me that despite being a cynical, jaded Stoic, I am somehow still capable of wonder.
Once inside the pages, I discovered a new path… one that has provided me relief, comfort, direction and reinforcement of core values. In a world gone mad, Enough provides vital anchors of sanity.
And Patrick Rhone is a voice of reason who must be heard by everyone struggling to cope in this day and age.