Have you ever stopped to think about the phrase ‘just enough’?

We use it all the time – 

“I’ve got just enough to make this recipe”

“He’s done just enough to pass the exam”

“They have just enough money to get by”

Whenever we use it, we’re implying a negative situation – sure, you have enough, but more would be better.

There is an inherent logical issue in the way we use this phrase in English.

Enough /ɪˈnʌf/
as much or as many as required

This is a binary idea – you either do or don’t have the quantity required to perform a specific task.

So why do we add ‘just’ to it? 

When we say ‘just enough’ – what we are actually exposing is our fear of insecurity about the future. Sure, I have enough, I’ve done enough, I’ve got enough… but what if I need more?

This feeling – an unspecified need for more or everything in the face of an uncertain future – permeates our entire culture. 

It’s the fear that drives us to keep accumulating wealth when we already have what we need to live well, to buy excess food on our weekly shop that we end up having to throw out, to work ourselves to the bone for our boss even if we’ve already hit our targets. And because these are driven by fear, it’s hard to know when we’ve ever got enough

And each of these examples of excess means that we’re trading off something else in our lives for it – our time, our planet, our energy, our happiness – and we’re not even clear why we need it. We’re simply scared about what might happen if we don’t.

So here’s a challenge to think on – the next time you use the phrase ‘just enough’, try and catch yourself doing it.

And try asking yourself: what would happen if I dropped the ‘just’?