Monday, January 4, 2016

My Goal for 2016: Celebrate Enoughness

(Note: This blog post also appears on The Huffington Post's blog site under the same title: "My Goal for 2016: Celebrate Enoughness.")

Today is the fourth day of 2016 and my youngest son's 20th birthday. How can that even be possible?? Damn. The older I get the faster time seems to go. It's so weird how that happens.

Christmas is the benchmark for me. When you're a kid, Christmas seems like it takes forever and a day to arrive. But when you're in your mid-50s, like I am, you'd swear that somebody changed Christmas into a holiday that occurs once every three or four months.

No one can tell me that these trips around the sun aren't getting shorter and shorter.

With the dawn of the new year, many people make resolutions they hope to stick to for the next 365 days. But resolutions are absolutes. With a resolution, you either succeed or fail. That's a lot of pressure to put on yourself, so, as I mentioned in my first blog post of 2014, I prefer to set goals instead.

By definition, a goal is something you strive for; not an absolute. You choose something you want to do or accomplish and you take steps to get there. If you don't reach your goal, chances are you'll at least have made significant steps toward getting there. "Progress, not perfection" is perfectly acceptable in this instance.

In 2015, I set one goal for myself: Find a job I'm passionate about. And while I didn't achieve that goal, I feel like I did make some progress. Although it's not a full-time job, I landed a freelance gig with a company in the addiction/recovery field, and it's allowing me to do work that I'm passionate about: helping others who are struggling. Not only that, but I get to write, too, which makes it even better.

It's now been more than two years since I've been employed full-time, but I can't really complain about how things are. Sure, it would be nice to have a little more money to pay the bills with--that Affordable Care Act health insurance isn't really all that affordable--but my family is getting by, and that's way better than a lot of other families are doing. So I am grateful. (Hey, at least I'm alive for 2016, right?)

This morning, while I was perusing things in my Facebook newsfeed, I came across a great piece from Brain Pickings entitled "16 Elevating Resolutions for 2016 Inspired by Some of Humanity's Greatest Minds." The resolutions were inspired by folks like Søren Kierkegaard, Susan Sontag, John Steinbeck, and Friedrich Nietzsche, and all of them were extremely thought-provoking. (Example: "Choose understanding over judgment," inspired by Anne Truitt.)

But waaaaay down at the end of the Brain Pickings list was the one resolution that resonated the most with me. And it just so happens to be the one inspired by one of my family's favorite authors--Kurt Vonnegut.

"Celebrate enoughness."

That resolution was inspired by a short remembrance Vonnegut had written about his late friend, author Joseph Heller. Originally published in The New Yorker, it later appeared in John C. Bogle’s book Enough: True Measures of Money, Business, and Life. Here it is:
True story, Word of Honor:
Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer
now dead
and I were at a party given by a billionaire
on Shelter Island.
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."
Not bad! Rest in peace!
That, my friends, is a badass story. And you know what? I, too, have "the knowledge that I've got enough." Of course, this crazy thing called life can always change. It's entirely possible that six months from now, I could find myself in dire straits. (Let's hope not!) But today? I have enough.

So I've decided that this will be my one and only goal/resolution for 2016:

1. Celebrate enoughness.

Today's society is too damn materialistic. So many people spend too much time focusing on what they don't have, instead of appreciating all the things they do have. The Dalai Lama once said, "When you are discontent, you always want more, more, more. Your desire can never be satisfied. But when you practice contentment, you can say to yourself, 'Oh yes--I already have everything that I really need.'"

I may not have an HDTV, a new car, a full-time job, fancy clothes, or an overflowing bank account, but I don't really care. Because I am rich in so many other ways, and I already have everything that I really need. I am content. And I have enough. And I'm going to be grateful for that every single day of 2016.

I invite you to take a good, hard look at your own life and realize just how wonderful it is. Maybe you can celebrate enoughness along with me.


"Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for." --Epicurus

Kurt Vonnegut got it right when he wrote "Old Dean."

No comments:

Post a Comment