Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Who are we without money?

I'm not sure where it came from, but I remember someone saying that you can't do anything without money - you can't buy a house to live, you can't eat, you can't do anything that would make you happy.

When did society rear us to believe that such beliefs are THE beliefs? Does money really buy you happiness? Happiness comes in so many forms. To some it might be that next $2000 Louis Vuitton bag that they've been saving each paycheck for to buy. To others it might be that big house on the nice suburban lot they've been eyeing at forever.

The problem with both of these things are that they act as living proofs or status symbols that their owners have made it, earned it, whatever IT is. The elusiveness of what IT signifies is that it is what first society measures as a sign of success, and secondly to what that person strives themselves to be measured against. But just as money may provide nice things, it also has the potential to provide a sense of complacency in life. What do I mean? Sure money can buy you the LV bag, but once you have that LV bag then what? Another one? A car, a house? Are you just going to go up the totem pole of status signifiers until you've made it? Money has the danger of creating a sense of security and complacency that when you reach the top you've made it. You're at the top of the ladder and as long as you have money, you're golden. What else is there to strive for? There are only so many Bentleys and penthouse apartments you can buy until they just become another thing on the list.

Complacency at the top is all about being comfortable at the top, and forgetting about what it took to get there and remaining to be appreciative of the effort that it took. That's why when people fall to rock bottom from the top, they lose themselves in the process. They've built up their identity around success measured through material things, that they've neglected to realize that happiness is a journey and a process. It takes hard work. And more importantly it is a continual process. Once it is achieved, it can be lost again, and you have to work to earn it back. A perfect example of this is what one of the richest men in the world is doing, he started a philanthropic organization to help others. He could have done a flat one-time check to the organization of his choice, but by starting his own organization, I think he's really managed to leverage his assets in a positive way that will provide a great source of happiness even when the money runs out.

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