My idea to change the world was inspired by a story in the book Enough, by John Bogle. It reads:

“At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, Kurt Vonnegut informs, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch-22 over its whole history.  Heller responds, ‘Yes, but I have something he will never have… enough.’”

For one of my finals I have been assigned a paper in which I must determine what will be “enough” for me.  As I write I am becoming aware that we are socialized into a system which trains us what to desire and how, but we rarely think that once we achieve certain ends, we will be happy or finished.  I believe we need to adopt a new mindset in which we determine the limits of our desire and can therefore truly enjoy the fruits of our labor, once reaching those achievements.  Without these limits, I believe we are forced to forever focus on the things we want, and by necessity the things we do not have, leaving the blessings in our lives out of our attention and appreciation.

An article my friend showed me reinforces my point.  The article lists the top 5 regrets of the dying as recorded by a nurse working with patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives.  It’s an inspirational list, but there are two in particular which I think are relevant to enough.  The first relevant regret is “I wish I didn’t work so hard.”  It cites that many people in this nurse’s unit felt they had missed out on the important things because they were spending so much time at work, trying to earn and achieve.  These people should have realized what was enough for them, and spent more time on the other, and often more important, things in life.  The second relevant regret is “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”  Again, this demonstrates that people realize retrospectively that they had the means to be happy, but instead focused on all of the things they wanted to improve in their lives.  What I am arguing for with enough, isn’t always being content or complacent, but determining what truly makes you happy and once you have achieved it, giving it some focus and appreciation before moving onto the next challenge.  Beyond this, once you have achieved enough, instead of working for even more, devote your time to helping those without a fair chance realize their ambitions.

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5 responses »

  1. Connie says:

    This is great! I agree with you — I think that we’ve become wired to believe that we need to constantly try to attain more and more out of life in order to be considered successful and happy. While I’m not criticizing wanting to improve oneself and one’s quality of living, it does reach a point of when is enough, enough? Everyone comes from different circumstances and want different things out of life, so I think we need to stop comparing ourselves to others and abiding by what we think society defines as success. The most important part is remembering what makes us happy, and striving to please ourselves not others.

  2. Kate says:

    I really like this too! Our society’s constant focus on hard-work, achievement, and success has driven many people to over-work themselves and sometime blinding them as to what makes them happy. Students caught up in getting A’s while adults strive to earn promotions. Unfortunately, we become too work-oriented and lose sight on what makes us happy, (such as family, friends, pets, exercise, etc) and we end up being miserable.

    I also like the point of “achieving enough.” I feel that the financially “successful” people in this world should give back to their communities or help those less fortunate. My dad mentors people at my church two times a week and helps them with their resumes. After each of his clients gets hired, he always feels rewarded that he could help someone in need. Before we die, we want to look back on our lives and be proud of everything that we have done, not only on what we have accomplished at work.

  3. I recently read this book as well. It really makes you think about something that most people take the time to do. Our culture is one where we always want more. More money, better technology, faster travel, more lavish vacations. What point is enough in these situations? I don’t think society will change so that people feel like they have enough without thinking about it. Deciding what will be enough for you will give you the peace of mind when you get there.

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