“Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold, happiness dwells in the soul.” – Democritus
Money cannot buy meaning, purpose, or significance; it cannot buy our legacy as we recall it on our deathbeds. Money pays for bills. Any job or number of jobs can pay for bills. Bills will get paid. So, if survival is more or less guaranteed, then the next question is why do we survive or for what do we survive for? When death arrives, nothing material leaves with us: the house, the vehicle, the brands. Status and prestige attained is irrelevant; it cannot assist in negotiating with death for more time. Therefore, with a finite amount of time how are the uses of money contributing to a life well lived for each individual?
Accumulating more money and wealth seems like an empty goal at best and an avoidable mental stressor at worst. After all, money only defines one sliver of what richness is. Money’s ability to buy happiness is fleeting, since whatever is bought in order to attain the stimulation for happiness is immediately gone once the money is gone, the novelty of the object diminishes, or the people attracted by the money are gone. So, why focus attention on money or ask questions about what we do with ourselves and our time with money as a guiding post? Building enduring bonds with family and friends, understanding our historical and cultural roots, developing our belief and value systems, and cultivating our strengths and talents are all additional ways by which richness is holistically quantifiable. Behavior and ideas are more withstanding and contribute to long-term internal satisfaction that is not dependent on anything external or fleeting.
Money appears to be on everyone’s mind as the end goal or for various reasons that are perhaps not examined thoroughly. Assuming some people perceive money as a measuring stick for wealth, the logic is flawed, since money has no inherent value. Money’s value is relative, given that it requires comparison to others’ fiscal sheets. A Western individual who lives under the poverty line is considerably a rich man in another part of the world, where a different kind of poverty exists. Practicing having a global perspective helps in aligning what is truth. Detaching ourselves from what we personally want and realizing the collective’s needs is another way to enrich our souls by fueling purpose and significance. When there is so much left to get done in the world, money is reduced to a small idea. Money will come as will change. However, how are we viewing ourselves and our role in contributing to the change? Shifting our mindset to what value we bring to a job in changing our world for the better is a much softer and deeper approach to living. At the end of our story, how much was enough and what was or was not traded-off as a result?
We are better than having our existential value tied to bank accounts. We created money in order to trade. We work for money in order to live. However, living for money is missing the point. We are capable of living richer lives if we consciously make the decision to do so.