The story goes that writers Kurt Vonnegut, best known for his bestselling novel, Slaughterhouse Five, and Joseph Heller, author of Catch-22, were guests at a party in the expansive second home of their billionaire host. Vonnegut described the exchange in an article published in the New Yorker in 2005:
“I said, ‘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?’ And Joe said, ‘I’ve got something he can never have.’ And I said, ‘What on earth could that be, Joe?’ And Joe said, ‘The knowledge that I’ve got enough.’”
Vonnegut crystallized the crux of our predicament in which he distilled the secret of happiness into the knowledge that “[you’ve] got enough—a knowledge that seems to only grow exponentially more elusive as our civilizational clock continues ticking.”
What I discovered is that our enough largely depends on whether we want to live in the material world, which is disconnected and monetizes nature, or whether we want to experience life on our own terms. Our mind has been programmed to tell us one thing or the other: what we don’t have, what we think we need, why this isn’t good, and why that isn’t enough. Perhaps the only certainty we have is uncertainty. When we learn to live with unpredictability and uncertainty, we can begin to learn how to increasingly become resilient and develop our ability to recover from setbacks—because we can be certain that they will continue to pop up on our path. We can choose the material items that truly bring value into our lives, so we don’t have to stuff ourselves with things that have no true meaning.
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