When we picture money in our lives (especially a windfall) we feel all giddy about what we can get for ourselves, what adventures we can afford and all of the potential GOOD we can do with it.
So it stands to reason that having money = happiness, right?
No. In fact, although money is an essential means of existence and to ‘not’ have it can and does cause unhappiness…it’s not money in itself that creates happiness or negates it.
Let’s be clear. Money is nothing but a medium of ‘exchange’ …and most of it isn’t even tangible, anymore, it’s digital. So we have a digital form of energy that is a medium of exchange for goods and services.
Think about it. What’s the history of money, anyway? While no one is completely certain, we do know that around 5000 BC, people were exchanging pieces of metal for goods and services. At around 700 BC, the Lydians (an Iron Age kingdom of western Asia Minor) were using coins.
Before that, we bartered and traded: you give me 10 apples and I’ll give you 2 bags of rice. If I didn’t need the apples but wanted meat, instead, I took those apples to someone who was ‘selling’ meat and traded the apples for some of that.
So, were we all unhappy prior to using money?? NO! Of course not.
That said, our planet, today, is completely obsessed with it. That is because most believe that money also = power. To some degree, it does…but that would really depend on how you measure power and what it means to you.
Are you powerful if you are in control of your own life and are able to manifest your own happiness without the aid of anyone but yourself? Are you powerful if you allow yourself to do what you LOVE and be who you really are rather than conform?
Or, are you powerful because you have a lot of money?
These are great questions and I don’t think I can address them in just one blog post!
That said, we all have our own truth and if you believe that you can’t be powerful without money, I tell you to look at people such as: Gandi, Mother Theresa and the Dalai Lama.
“But!” you yell… “Look at all those rich and powerful people …!” as you go along to list a bunch of people WITH money AND power and suggest that this is truly the magical formula.
Yet…are they happy people? I could argue that and I suspect some of them truly are. It doesn’t mean that they are happy because they have lots of money.
Was Gandi happy? I’m going to say that he was.
The thing is – money is not happiness and happiness is not money. They can be found together or apart – kinda like chocolate and peanut butter; some find them delicious together while others (maybe you’re allergic to peanuts) find it devastating.
So there you go. You CAN be happy with or without money. It’s not a necessary ingredient as happiness is really an individual and exclusive thing and it is not a byproduct of having ‘stuff’ or having certain people in your life. I know people who have taken their lives because they didn’t have that one person with them, anymore, but when I asked if they were ‘happy’ when this person was with them….they said ‘no’, ultimately not.
You and only you are responsible for your happiness and no amount of cash, beautiful people or other outside influences will create happiness within YOU.
They can be influential and they can contribute but ultimately it’s up to your own conscious being to decide whether or not you will be or are, ultimately, happy.
I remember there was this internet blurb about some senior citizens saying that happiness was a choice and it wasn’t governed by material means or wealth.
i can only speak for myself here but I was really poor growing up along with my immediate cousins. like young people in that economic situation, we were determined to make it out. their material success (or image of it, more on that as I go on) came earlier than mine and now when I think about it, I’m so thankful it happened that way and I’ll tell you why:
the moment people perceived that they were successful, they basically had everyone lining up telling them how they were the greatest thing since sliced bread. it’s just the nature of the game: success attracts people. but the more my cousins put stock in this inflated version of themselves, they got themselves into “financial investments” and social circles that literally dried up their time and drive not only to improve on themselves but to actually enjoy the full scope of their “success”. in the end, they were powerful only because they projected an image of having money. and when they ran out of their “credit card wealth”, everyone that they “helped” were suddenly too busy or not able to return their phone calls.
now as for me (because i was such a genius, haha), while my monetary ascent was at a slower pace I just happened to have people in my life that instilled in me the value of being a decent person and being a professional. these are terms that I use a lot on my blog because I believe this was the cornerstone of the stability I enjoy today. being honest with people, being diplomatic, avoidance of unnecessary conflict whilst projecting a deterrence of force through assertiveness & clear speaking allowed me to churn up good social karma without invoking long-held grudges. when the money finally did start to come in I wasn’t tied down to some social circle drama and neither was I approached for any dumb investment deals that were guaranteed to lose money.
to me, the real essence of happiness beyond material trappings has more to do with not only the type of person you are, that’s 1/2 of the equation, but also it has to do with how you deal with people. that’s what gives you respect and acceptance and that’s coincidentally what will give you the time and the motivation to better yourself. money is basically the second derivative to the success forged through being a decent and prepared human being. notice I didn’t say anything about being “good” per se because I don’t believe karma rewards that as much as people want to make us believe. I believe that karma rewards proactivity and awareness more than it does your garden variety good deeds. don’t get me wrong, they have their place but to overload on that at the expense of things that simply “have to be done” whether feelings get hurt or not is why a lot of “good” people feel that they are taken advantage of or end up on the short end of life’s bounty.
so in the end I also realized, money does not equal happiness. it gets you stuff but in the end it only amplifies – for lack of a better term – stupidity. if anything, being dumb and having money is the fastest road to misery. but when you take responsibility for yourself first and foremost and how you see the world, it may not guarantee you money (because let’s face it; there are a lot of things that have to bounce in your favor to enjoy that kind of wealth) but it will guarantee that you’ll have respect among your peers and that is a wealth that can be used to transcend or at least mitigate the instant force of the dollar (or Canadian dollar, because I know you’re from there, hehe).
great post! i have so much to say when it comes to money because a.) nobody i know wants to hear me spout off about it and b.) I can remember being poor as young person and boy, there’s nothing romantic or noble about it at all: it really sucked goat butt LOL.
Hey, you! Good to see you and thanks for your comment. 🙂 Well said!
I’ve been poor many times in my life, and I agree, it’s not fun! That said, I remember my mother telling me, years ago, that the happiest times in her marriage to my father was when they ‘didn’t have two nickels to rub together’.
It’s really all about how you perceive what you do have and being grateful for the little things. That said, money is nice to have! I’ve had lots and have had hardly any. I’ve been miserable with it and without it because my misery wasn’t about ‘the money’.
I guess the take-away is to be grateful for whatever you have…be it a roof over your head or a warm meal because many have neither. And when you have more than you need, do a little good with some of it.
“…but it will guarantee that you’ll have respect among your peers and that is a wealth that can be used to transcend or at least mitigate the instant force of the dollar …”
And what of self respect? Peers come and go; look within to better yourself and there you’ll see the real joy of life; the joy of just being…YOU. 😀