If we stand in the middle of finiteness-and-infinity spectrum and evaluate two variables: ‘sufficient’ and ‘more,’ then sufficient comes closer to finiteness while more to infinity. This thought came to me when I saw my cellphone saying that it was sufficiently charged when the battery was charged around 80%. We continue to pursue many things, especially money, for more even when we reached the sufficient levels, and in this process, we miss out many other aspects of life. Ultimately, more is infinite and not reachable as it keeps expanding as you get closer to it, but sufficient is finite and possible. Can we choose sufficient over more?
A word that can be used to make an attempt at the otherwise-difficult task of explaining responsible-living is sustainability. Sustainability is a conscious choice of sufficient over more. A life based on unsustainable habits is irresponsible and bound to collapse prematurely while sustainable living is responsible living that courses its way forward fully without any untimely demise. There are plenty of examples to illustrate both these ways of living if we make an observation of what is happening around us. I will cite a few examples.
Alcohol-addiction is an example of a life that is based on unsustainable habit. An alcohol-addict fails to understand that the volume of alcohol that his/her liver can filter in a lifetime is almost fixed and that once such a capacity threshold crosses, the liver will raise its hands and say: sorry, I can filter no more alcohol, and s/he prematurely dies from liver sclerosis. The addict chose more over sufficient thereby consuming the volume of alcohol, which he/she otherwise would have consumed had he/she lived the normal lifespan, in a shorter span of time. So s/he choose an unsustainable model of living and dies prematurely. Though I do not recommend alcoholism, the fact is that many people do drink alcohol. So my advice to them is to ask themselves the question: am I drinking alcohol sustainably/responsibly? To frame the question in a more straight, revealing way: should I finish the quota of alcohol that my body can maximum-handle within, say, 30/40 years of my age and die prematurely or that I drink responsibly and live longer? And this question must be asked by all who consume alcohol because the alcohol handling-capacity of our liver is fixed beyond which it is death.
Our financial health is as important as our physical health. A lifestyle that spends more than we earn will lead us to inescapable insolvency. Financial sustainability at personal is an important aspect of responsible living. Financially-sustainable living is nothing but living within the means, not beyond the means. And that demands prudence of choosing sufficient over more. We often come across news of people committing suicides due to debts; there are heart-wrenching news of man-of-the-house killing himself and the rest of the families due to debts, etc. Why do such things happen? It is because people start to spend their future income for present times without learning to be sufficient with their present incomes for the present living – choosing more over sufficient.
How responsible living is important to sustain relationship at interpersonal level? Take any interpersonal relation: between husband and wife, between two friends, between siblings, etc. An interpersonal relation that is not based on win-win is bound to raise frictions and possibly die out sooner than later. Why is win-win relation important? In a win-lose or lose-win relation, one person wants more, instead of sufficient, so the other person loses, with loser even not being left with sufficient for him/her to survive. Such a relation will collapse eventually because it is not sustainable for the person who loses in the relation. But a relation based on give and take is a win-win for both parties because both parties decided to choose sufficient over more. Such a relation is sustainable because both parties feel winning and are winners, with no losers in the relationship. Can we factor in this into divorces to look for the basic cause of divorce?
The aforesaid examples are pointers to living life responsibly at personal level. Another dimension of sustainable living – choosing sufficient over more – is our relation with the environment. Over utilization of natural resources, scant respect for environment, littering of sea and ocean with plastics, endangering marine life, pollution, etc. are the examples of man’s greed for more when sufficient is enough to dwell.
The questions that we ought to ask: are we living a life that is sustainable? Are we living responsibly? Can we choose sufficient over more? Strive to have an answer of YES to these questions, for it saves you and saves the world, too.