During this week you’ll develop a healthy attitude toward your assets, and you’ll live your days as a student, fully willing to learn.
Your possessions are temporarily leased to you.
When I depart an aircraft after a flight, I often notice eager passengers waiting to board the same plane that I just exited. The seat I occupied didn’t belong to me; I leased it for a short while. The home I live in, my office space, even the molecules that constitute my body will be with me for a small, finite time. So will money.
Money has been around us for at least four thousand years, if not longer (as early as 9,000 BC, cattle and grain were used as money). We use our 240 trillion dollars (the approximate combined net worth of all the households on our planet) to acquire goods, get services, or pay down debt. Money is thus very important, but beyond a threshold, it is very ineffective in providing lasting peace and happiness.
This is because as we acquire money, our wants and threshold for happiness both rise. Further, when we have more, we fear losing it and get busy with protecting it. Money thus by itself can’t provide sustained happiness. Asking money to deliver lasting happiness is like asking my boom box to play a 3D movie. It won’t happen.
Two perspectives might help you get more joy out of that dollar. One, money is an enabler; it is the means, not the end. Money helps you access the two core sources of lasting happiness—meaningful connection and creative pursuits. Caring and kind connections, in which you accept the other people as they are, make up one of our core sources of happiness. Similarly, creative pursuits, particularly the meaningful ones, where we lose our sense of self in a state of flow, are immensely pleasing. You need some money to experience both connection and creativity.
The second perspective involves seeing yourself as a conduit for the flow of energy between its source and the receivers. The source can choose the amount of energy it is willing to pass through you. The energy doesn’t belong to you, but for the moment it pauses in your coffers, you’re responsible for being its good steward.
This attitude will allow you to use the fleeting money to buy timeless happiness (through connection and creative pursuits), keep equanimity amid losses and gains, and experience a measure of financial freedom. It’ll help you see money as a transient source of energy. If you try to grab or hoard it with purely selfish intent, it might not serve you as you had hoped. However, if you use it to fulfill a prosocial meaning, such as helping others acquire life’s essentials, you might convert the transient energy into enduring memories of fulfilling experiences, compassionate actions, and grateful moments. That, I believe, would be a good investment.
May you never struggle to acquire life’s essentials; may you help others acquire life’s essentials.
@AmitSoodMD (on Twitter)