Kurt Vonnegut and Joe Heller were once on Shelter Island at a party being thrown by a billionaire. Kurt says to Joe, “Joe, how does it make you feel to know that our host only yesterday may have made more money than your novel ‘Catch-22’ has earned in its entire history?” Joe responded by saying, “I’ve got something he can never have. The knowledge that I have enough.” Interesting thought that raises the question, when do we have enough?
When Do We Have Enough???
Let’s say you have a perfectly working iPhone, but then the newest one just came out. You feel like you would be happier with the new one and its new features. The question begs to be asked, “Isn’t the iPhone you have enough?” Or if you have a 3000 square foot home, but you get a nice promotion with a lot more money a year, do you need the 4200 square foot home? When do you have enough? It’s funny how having a bit more money in your pocket can skew your view around what is enough. I can tell you that when I looked any menus at restaurants, I never cared about how much things cost. My thought was, “I have enough money, so it doesn’t matter what it costs.” But this is a poor way of thinking. This is the kind of thinking that keeps the middle class stuck in the middle class and people striving to find happiness.
Why Are The Middle Class Stuck?
The middle class are stuck because most middle class people don’t know when they have enough. The majority of middle class people are more willing to go into debt, because they think the newest iPhone will make them happy, rather than be happy with what they have. It’s an illusion. You begin chasing more and more things to make you happy, never fully being satisfied with what you have. This mindset will make you unhappier, put you in debt, and keep you financially stuck.
Happiness Is Found By Practicing Gratitude
I use to be the guy who bought the new iPhone every two years. I thought I was doing a good job by not buying the new phone every year. I had self control. But even still, I didn’t need a new phone every two years. I just needed to be thankful for what I already had. I began practicing gratitude…writing down three things I was grateful for each day. Being grateful for an event that happened in my past, being grateful for something in the current moment, and being grateful for a friend. When you start looking at gratitude this way, it changes what is important to you. Is the new iPhone the most important, or is lunch with your friend more important? When you find it in your heart to be grateful for what you have and know that everything you have is temporary, it changes the way you see things. And guess what? You realize what enough is.
It’s an illusion to believe you NEED more than you have. All you truly need is a roof over your head, food in your belly, and loved ones at your side. Even some of the richest of the rich are not happy because they feel like they don’t have enough. Having enough is about being grateful for what you have and being thankful that you have it. Really feeling how blessed you are to have what you have. This is how Joe Heller cleverly responded to Kurt Vonnegut. He knows when enough is enough, and is happier because of it.