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March 27, 2008

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donna

Related to money and finances?

"He who knows enough is enough will always have enough..."

I think what he refers to as happiness is more what I refer to as joy or as he said, well being. Even in sad moments there can be joy, as when a loved one dies you might recall all the good things they brought to your life. I would not be happy that they died, but I would be joyful that they had lived and that I knew them.

The word happiness to me is more the momentary pleasure he refers to extended into the other moments of our lives, as a gift someone might give us that makes us happy whenever we look at it. The mental state of always being calm and at peace with whatever is happening really has no English equivalent, though we might call it peace of mind or inner peace. I might not be happy in an emergency, but I would be calm while trying to handle whatever is happening. The surface storm would not affect the deeper calm. But that to me is not happiness, but an inner stillness or tranquility.

Pleasure to me is entirely different, though. It has a very hedonistic quality that really makes me smile. Cats purring in the sun, happy dogs belly up to be rubbed, birds singing, etc....

Oz

Matthieu Ricard is simply brilliant. Having previously read his book "Happiness", I can understand why he has been called the happiest man in the world. I agree with Ricard that happiness is a state that comes from within, but can have both internal and external triggers.

On the connection between money, finances, and happiness, I believe there can be short line drawn. Having money and good finances are themselves just tools and what we gain from them depends on how they are used. If it is happiness that we are looking for, a deep sense of flourishing and well-being, money can provide for basic needs that engender happiness. Beyond that, money probably would not contribute much to happiness. We can call it decreasing marginal utility if we want to be economic about this.

The Financial Philosopher

Donna & Oz:

Thanks to you both for your comments! I could probably create an entire blog around the thoughts you have shared on The Financial Philosopher...

I agree, Donna, that the word, "happiness," and the english language itself, falls short in describing what Ricard refers to as "well-being."

Oz, I believe, and studies have shown, that once our basic needs are met, having "more" does not have a high correlation with greater well-being... Your economic analogy of marginal utility works well...

Thanks again...

jimcos42

In "Your Money Or Your Life" (Dominguez and Robin), the first chapter is devoted to the question of enough and the "fulfillment curve," which echoes the previous writer's comments.

The only other thing I'd add is that for those who want everything, there is never enough.

Thank you for this oasis of sanity!

The Financial Philosopher

jimcos42:

Here are a few of my favorite gems of wisdom on having "enough:"

"If thou wilt make a man happy, add not unto his riches but take away from his desires." ~ Epicurus

According to Jack Bogle:
“At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, the late Kurt Vonnegut informed his pal, the author 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.’ ”

Cheers to all...

Jean

jimcos42, good quote and story, but I wonder ... if Vonnegut and Heller had "enough", what were they doing at the hedge fund manager's party? If their attitude was truly different than that person's, why would they be interested in associating with him and attending the party?

The Financial Philosopher

Jean:

You make an interesting point. Speaking for me, I would attend such a party with my wife or a friend for the free meal and to "people watch" but let's analyze this a bit:

In all fairness, I would need to hear an explaination from Heller himself to answer your thought-provoking question(Vonnegut, of course, has since passed away).

Personally, I associate with many people who lead their lives in ways that I would not. I do not believe that such associations are, by default, an endorsement of their values. In fact, I am often intrigued by opposing views because they are more stimulating than agreeable ones...

“There is no conversation more boring than the one where everybody agrees.” ~ Michel de Montaigne

Thanks for reading the blog post and making your own comment!

Cheers...

Jean

Hmmm, Maybe they were doing research for a new novel, studying a different species.

Not that it will ever happen, but despite my disinterest in the royals, I wonder if I would refuse an invitation to one of their garden parties. Sometimes one kids oneself that one doesn't care about the exclusive club, until one gets the opportunity to join and then whoops, it is worthwhile after all. In money terms, it is "I don't care about money" but see what happens after a lottery win. Few of us are truly incorruptible ... and I include myself!

The Financial Philosopher

Those are more good points, Jean...

After commenting earlier today, I recalled reading somewhere that even Socrates, who lived a very frugal and simple life, loved to go to the market. When his students asked about this, he reportedly replied, "I love to go and see all the things I am happy without."

Perhaps Vonnegut and Heller were doing some kind of research, as you said!

Thanks again for the comment...

jimcos42

re hanging out with different people. I think it's great entertainment and a really inexpensive and enjoyable way to learn. I pick up a lot of "intelligence" by just smiling, listening and asking "why"? If I wanted agreement, I could just stay home and talk to myself. So, Heller and Vonnegut at a hedge fund gathering? Perfect!

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