Good enough stuff

People talk about how Americans consume for meaning. We create who we are by the clothes we wear, the decorations in our homes, and the cars we drive. We shop for entertainment. We get more stuff to fill our time.

One way to attempt to avoid the consumption trap is to focus on good enough.

Like with knives. Grete and I got a cheap set when we were married six years ago. Some are bent. Others just “kinda” work. We wanted good ones that would last.

But good is a vague category. So instead, we focused on good enough. We didn’t need the $2,000 set. Or really even the $200 set. We needed something that would work for us. So, we got one or two good enough knives we could use. Still high quality, but not the highest quality. After using the cheap ones for a while we knew which kinds we used most often. We didn’t need 10 amazing knives. Two good ones worked just fine.

Or when we went shopping for sofas a few years ago. I could find so many couches I’d love to have. But they didn’t really fit into our price range (or, sometimes, our apartment). I had to realize we were shopping for a “for now” couch, not a forever couch. It helped me focus on good enough. Maybe we’ll have our Ikea couches forever. But thinking of it as a temporary purchase helped me get past the mental barrier of wanting the most and best of everything.

Not everything we buy has to be merely “good enough,” but for some things, it’s the best possible solution. Because the truth is, maybe that whole knife set would have been amazing. And maybe that perfect couch would have made our apartment perfectly impressive and inviting. But there probably would have been knives we never touched, wasting our space and resources. And we probably would have been so worried about keeping that nice couch nice we would have been concerned about our guests and their cups of coffee. And that’s not the life I want to live, either.

So for certain things, good enough is perfect.

What about you? What’s your good enough stuff?

Good enough stuff