Is “good enough” good enough?

Whenever you run into someone you haven’t seen in a while, what’s the first thing they ask you?  “Hey, how are things going?”  And by “things” they could be referring to any number of areas of your life.  If you work, they probably mean work.  If you are raising kids, then they are including that.  Basically, they are asking if you are happy and fulfilled in your life.  And what we say is “oh good” or “great, everything’s great.”  But what we are really thinking on the inside is usually “fine, I guess,” often just “eh,” and sometimes “terribly, if you must know.”

Of course nobody wants to hear that.  And who can blame them?  Hopefully the “good” and “fine” times outnumber the “terrible.”  But is “fine” fine?  Is “okay” okay?  Or should we want/demand more?

I know life can’t be perfect all the time.  I’m not some romanticizing, irrational idealist (okay, that maybe isn’t completely true.  I have certainly been accused of being as much, and worse, including, but not limited to, “sappy”).  But how much of “good enough” is just life, and how much of it can be changed or avoided?  I’d rather be content than miserable, but settling when it could be better is no kind of happiness either.

I recently read an article about a guy that is giving up fast food.  When asked why, he said “it just doesn’t satisfy me.  I was only eating it out of habit or convenience.  I thought I wanted it, but the truth was that every time I ate it, it just made me feel terrible.  It’s not good.  I thought it was or, I guess, hadn’t paid enough attention to the fact that it wasn’t.  But now that I’ve given it up, there is no looking back.”

This made me think about the last time I ate fast food, which was a double Whopper at Burger King (no tomato), about a week ago, if you must know.  And fries.  And a drink.  And I remember being excited to get it, and thinking I really wanted it.  After a couple of bites in, I was no longer excited, and by about halfway through, I was completely disgusted with myself (though that didn’t prevent me from finishing it; I’m only human).

But that made me think about the last time I ate at Burger King before that.  And I had a similar order.  And I remember having a very similar experience.

And the same was true for the time before that.

And the time before that.

And that made me realize that I actually can’t remember the last really good fast-food experience I had, where, after finishing, I thought “wow, that was really delicious.  And what’s more, I feel like a million bucks!!!”  That’s probably because it has never happened.

And that made me think about what else is just “good enough” in my life.  What are my other metaphorical cheeseburgers?  Is there anything else I could or should be giving up?  How about you?

2 thoughts on “Is “good enough” good enough?

  1. I find it annoying when people ask how you are doing, but don’t really want to know. Or, at least, they don’t want to hear if things are going badly. Annoying, but oh so very common. I haven’t been “good” or “great” for many months now, but I’ve learned over those months that “how’s it going?” is just a phrase, and not really a question seeking an honest answer. When answered honestly at times of distress, it simply causes awkward, silent moments, which are never a good start to any conversation. Granted, this depends on the relationship between the two parties, but I’ve found there are very few people who really want to hear that you are struggling. Those few people are the ones to hold onto when you find them.

    I think it is good to want more in life, but not necessarily good to expect it. Also, I don’t find it particularly helpful to focus on what could be better unless you are willing and able to take steps to improve whatever is bothering you. Sometimes those changes that need to be made are in the control of others, not yourself, and that can be particularly frustrating. Other times you are in complete control but aren’t quite sure how to execute the changes. There never seems to be a simple answer, at least in my experience.

    I think that’s life. Things you may think you want one day might change over time. Does that mean you make rash decisions every time you come to a part of life that is hard to deal with, or that makes you unhappy? No. To me, life is learning how to live with your decisions, make the best of your situations, and choose to be happy. Have I mastered that? No. Not nearly. I’m not sure I ever will. So for now, yes, I guess “good enough” is good enough. It has to be.

    Oh, and as far as fast food goes…no tomato? Are you crazy?

  2. In my experience, “how’s it going?” is asked no more literally than “what’s up?” (the only thing more annoying to me than people asking “how’s it going?” insincerely are people who answer “the sky” or “the ceiling” when asked “what’s up?” Boo!).

    Obviously, not everyone can handle a candid response to “how’s it going?” Surrounding yourself with people who CAN handle the answer, and care about the answer, and, if necessary, help you figure out how to improve the answer, is essential to happiness, I think.

    I don’t like this at all: “I think it is good to want more in life, but not necessarily good to expect it.” What good is the wanting if there is no possibility or hope of achieving it? I both agree and disagree with you about focusing on what could be better. Sometimes that can be depressing. Sometimes it can be distracting, which for me can be a good or a bad thing. Sometimes, if there was not at least the hope that it could be better, I could not get out of bed in the morning. No matter how fleeting or unreachable the reality of that happier possibility is in that moment. Sometimes it’s just about whatever it takes to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

    Could not agree more that the answers rarely seem to be simple.

    I think that “I think that’s life” sounds dangerously like settling. It’s a fine line between accepting what you can’t change and giving up. I think everyone deserves to be happy. Life isn’t all happy and fun and easy all the time. But we have to try. No one is going to drop happiness in our lap. We have to look and fight and try. Because if we are not aggressively getting it for ourselves, it’s just not going to happen.

    Good enough is not good enough. It is tolerable for a time, but eventually it dwindles into not good enough. I have no room to advise or judge on this issue. Consider all of the above a self-pep talk. If it helps you too, fine. If not, please feel free to disregard.

    Tomatoes are disgusting!

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