What are you grateful for today?  We ask our two-year-old this question every evening at dinner.  We have several reasons for this: we are genuinely curious; we want to instill a sense of gratitude in our son; it also gives my wife and I a chance to reflect each evening.

I’ll remind you that our son is two.  And he loves trucks.  Dump trucks, ambulance trucks, fire trucks.  He wakes up talking about trucks.  Unsurprisingly, most nights, Wes is grateful for trucks.

But the other night… Wes was grateful for Mom and Dad!  This made our hearts full and happy.

I try to practice gratitude every day.  For things big and small.  The wonders around us all the time – electricity, computers, air conditioning, fast cars, and airplanes.  And existential things – love, friendship, purpose, and meaning.

The holidays are a natural time of year to be thankful and grateful.  We celebrate with friends and family.  We share and receive gifts.  Hopefully, there will be a few fun parties as well.

Pausing to reflect and be grateful is critical in determining our sense of enough.  Finding enough is crucial for our happiness and satisfaction.

If we never find enough, well, there is only one answer. More.  More work.  More money.  We have to save more.  To buy more.  To fill this hole of enough.

But what if you figured out what enough looked like for you and your family?  What if you knew you had enough saved and were on a solid path?  What would change for you?

Would you work a little less?  Maybe play a whole lot more?  Or turn off your phone when you get home from the OR?

Would you be a little more present at the family dinner?  Or call your parents more frequently?  Find time for your college best friend whose schedule never seems to align.

Enough is powerful in all areas of our lives.  As physicians, we are fortunate to have careers with purpose and meaning and to be well compensated for our time.

However, as physicians, the pursuit of more is deeply ingrained, a mindset that begins early in training and persists into our attending years.  Extra hours studying at the library, prolonged clinical shifts during med school and residency – it becomes a self-defeating cycle.

It’s much easier to stay late at the hospital when the rewards are immediate and evident – we can earn more money.  Our patients tell us what a wonderful and caring physician we are.  The nurses appreciate us.

The hospital administrators appreciate… Ah, who am I kidding? The administrators could care less!

Yet, in our personal lives, the most meaningful rewards take time to unfold.  Children who feel supported and valued, and marriages or partnerships that offer comfort, security, and growth – all built upon seemingly small, cumulative moments.

But what ties these together is the need for time and presence.

This is where the power of enough comes in.  When you have internal self-worth, you don’t need to chase external rewards.  You concentrate on your purpose and avoid the allure of status games.

You know what’s meaningful in your life and protect it at all costs.  You know what enough is for you and also see the danger of chasing more.

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