November 12, 2014

How to Know you’re Happy: A Brilliant Kurt Vonnegut Quote.

Kurt Vonnegut

Authors Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph (Joe) Heller are at a party, in a mansion, surrounded by billions in net worth. They’re hanging out, possibly feeling out of place, or maybe just taking it all in with a laugh.

I would have liked to be a fly on that wall!

I came across this anecdote by Kurt Vonnegut via a friend,  and couldn’t resist sharing.

As Kurt Vonnegut relates, Heller makes an extremely incisive point about different kinds of wealth: there is the kind we can accumulate and touch and see, and the other, which comes from a much deeper, more gratifying place.

Sometimes enough is just … enough. This is the goal, isn’t it?

And because he’s Kurt Vonnegut, he tells his tale with precisely the kind of humour and verve we’d expect.

Happy Birthday (November 11), Kurt Vonnegut!


“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!”


Please find the source of this quote, and more great stuff about Kurt Vonnegut here.

Bonus: More from Kurt

How to Write a Short Story:

On the Shapes of Stories:

With Joseph Heller, on War:


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Author: Tammy T. Stone

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: orangefan2011/Flickr

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tammystone4444 Nov 14, 2014 4:54pm

Thank your for your comments – the way I understood the quote is that to know you "have enough" goes beyond your material needs and into a deeper mode of satisfaction and contentment with "what is" in life, no matter what the challenges … that's my two cents, anyway!

Willem Devijlder Nov 14, 2014 8:20am

I am not impressed nor do I agree with the quote. Happiness is in the mind and in the heart. Just knowing you have enough money accumulated may give you a peace of mind but you still can be unhappy in many other aeras in your life. This quote is a very shallow quote.

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Tammy T. Stone is a Canadian writer, photographer and chronicler of life as it passes through us. After spending a few years traveling through Southeast Asia and India, she has found a new home in Japan, a place she has long imagined and dreamed about. Always a wanderer, she’s endlessly mesmerized by people, places and everything in between; the world is somehow so vast and so small. She feels so lucky to have been able to work, learn, live and travel far and wide, writing, photographing and wellness-practicing along the way. She invites you to see some of her recent photography here and to connect with her on her writer’s page, twitter and her blog, There’s No War in World, here.