❝Society tells us the only thing that matters is matter - the only things that count are the things that can be counted.❞ -Laurence G. Boldt
I'm reading an interesting story about a successful author who attends a party given by a billionaire. The story goes that the author, Joseph Heller - author of Catch-22 - was at this party with his friend. The friend wonders how Joe feels that the billionaire made more money yesterday than Catch-22 has made and its entire lifetime. Joe said that he feels fine because he's got something that the billionaire will never have. His friend, puzzled, wonders what he could have that the billionaire doesn't.
Joe says, "I have the knowledge that I have enough.”
I'm fascinated by the story because it's more profound to me than it seems on the surface. It tells me that Joe Heller was ahead of his time. Joe knew how much was enough and was comfortable and confident with that. The rest of society wants to be the billionaire. They want to gain more and more, hoping that it will eventually make them happy.
But I've come to realize that the Joe Hellers of the world are happier than the rest of us. The question becomes, how can we become more like Joe Heller?
Without consideration, our default mode is to pursue things and stuff. It's our default mode because it's so easy. We know exactly how it feels to experience financial stress, but we don't know how it feels for other people because money is a taboo topic that we don't talk about. It's easy for us to look around and see other people acting happy, and so we replicate what they are doing. From the outside looking in, it looks like they are happy because they have more stuff than we do or have better stuff than we do.
So we naturally believe that the secret to happiness is to seek out and acquire more, better, and bigger things. The problem is that as we work hard to collect more and more things, we don't find the happiness we were expecting.