We are taught from a young age that money is not only necessary to live in society but also is crucial for a stable sense of happiness. The media portrays that an excessive of cash will undoubtedly lead to god like levels of nirvana. As most people grow older and review passed down preconceptions with their own life experiences they realize this is not true. A person only needs to have the basic comforts provided, such as shelter, food, education and health care.
A great example is how lottery winners, no matter how outstanding their winnings, report no sustainable happiness increase past the initial excitement. In fact, some of them even report that they were more unhappy as a result. Money is like medicine it is only a good thing when you need it. But once you are ‘healthy’ it is unnecessary and counter productive. Some medicines have harmful effects when applied to a healthy patient.
Life is about experiences. While money can provide more varied and possibly exotic possibilities, there is no guarantee that experience will be worthwhile.
If you consider how hard people have to work to gain the riches so fancied by the every man, the sacrifices and limited time they have to enjoy their wealth, is it worth it? His Holiness the Dalai Lama was asked what surprised him the most about people, his response was golden:
“Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
The chase for wealth beyond what we need, detracts from irreplaceable resources. We give up time that we could spend with the people we care most for. Nothing can replace those lost moments. If we live for wealth, we live attempting only to survive. Even if you attain a eight figure income, you will then start slaving away to not lose what you have. The inability to let go is one of the most damaging practices anyone can commit to.
As we get more, we want more. If you give into the initial feelings of desire and selfishness, you open the door of justified living. ‘I missed my kid’s birthday but I closed that major deal, so now he’ll be able to go to college,’ is how it starts.
After you learn to justify your greed, it twists quickly from that innocuous example to ‘ In order to save the company money I used toxic chemicals in the building of Seattle’s water ways’. The executive directors of Monsanto did not start life as corporate monsters they grew into it.
Princeton University did a study that involved 450,000 people. The study was to find the optimal money to happiness ratio. At what point does money stop contributing to the overall happiness?
Researchers broke the idea of happiness into two categories. One of the categories was the day to day mood subject to shift quickly, off days, good days, and bad days; the ‘run of the mill’ type emotions.
The other category was the deeper satisfaction with your life, aka the deep sense of contentment that helps to save our sanity on those bad days. They found that after 75,000 dollars a year there was no increase in the latter category of happiness.
Enjoy what you have while you have it. Don’t let the media stimulate your greed into a awful hunger. Let your closest friends and family be your treasures, because they are the only truly on of a kind, irreplaceable treasures that exist.