IS MONEY THE PURPOSE OF LIFE?
By Alice Falcao & Vincent Lyn
Money is not everything, but money is something very important. Beyond the basic needs, money helps us achieve our life’s goals and supports things we care about most deeply: family, education, health care, charity, adventure and fun.
However, it’s not that easy to attain a certain lifestyle that allows us the freedom to live well. According to UNESCO in a 2018 research paper, approximately 260 million children didn’t have access to education, and in most cases because of obstacles such as poverty and discrimination, it made it difficult for all children to have equal access to education. But our world abruptly changed from the COVID-19 pandemic, and Human Rights Watch (HRW) estimates that 90% of children and young people’s education was demonstrably affected by the pandemic; in most of these cases for the lack of having personal computers, telephones, or even internet at home. Still, according to HRW, many children and young people who are part of the 90% had to quit school and start working in temporary jobs. Many got married and had children, and some others, due to their age, were no longer covered by free or compulsory education and for that reason didn’t have the luxury of being able to attend university.
Would money have eased any of these burdens?
The entire world has been hampered because of the pandemic but having more money has alleviated the burden. Most likely the answer would be “Yes!” According to numerous studies, higher earners are happier in part because they feel more in control over their lives. More money means more choices, options, and possibilities in regards to how we live life and spend our time, as the pandemic brutally showed.
The truth is that we “reap what we sow.” This old age lesson parallels the new age metaphysical thought that we create our own realities. For those that don’t buy in, it can seem pathetic to simply dream ourselves into a new life of prosperity when we are eating potatoes for dinner for the 4th night in a row. Yet, it is worth a try! There truly is more to life than money. If you spend your time worrying, fretting and disgruntled about the bills flooding the mailbox, or struggling to get through one month just to make it to the next — you are overshadowing your own life with gloom and doom. This unfortunately steals any opportunity you have to enjoy the simple pleasures or to dig deep back into the creative and passionate world inside you. You will become saddened and each and every moment will be within the quotation marks of ‘not having enough.
On the flip side, should you decide (gratefully) that you are at least able to rob “Peter to pay Paul” each and every week, you might see the sunlight between the trees. There are many people who are so stuck financially that they have tapped out every resource to pay and have no further options. Being grateful for what you do have, your job, family and enjoying the simple pleasures can get you from one day to the next without making you feel as if your life is a failure. Many people have become accustomed to entertaining themselves with things that cost a lot of money. You want the expensive family vacation, the nice new car, the perfectly decorated house. Yet, remove these things or the ability to maintain this sort of “plastic” lifestyle and you instantly become drained of enthusiasm for life.
So what are the simple pleasures? It is easy to be trite and list numerous things that include snuggling with a spouse, the smell of your clean baby, and the food on the table. But simple pleasures are more than that — and should be. Each and every moment that we live we are offered the chance to live authentically and fully, or to spend it feeling a lack of something. Rather than feel the only way you can enjoy your summer is by spending it at a timeshare, you should find the same feelings of togetherness and rest with the people you love right in your own home. If you can recreate the feelings of satisfaction and success in each moment, you can live your life experiencing a string of simple pleasures, one right after the other. For example, teaching your children how to make scrambled eggs, starting a family exercise program where you start each day walking together. Utilizing public facilities like ballparks and bike trails to get in your recreational activities or staying close to home to swim in lakes, beaches and experience nature. Simple pleasures can be saving money on your groceries and living with much less yet feeling fuller than ever before.
If you can strip away all of the materialistic thoughts and balance out your wants versus your needs, you will be left with a life that is not only simpler, but much easier to enjoy as well. Think for a minute about all the things that are causing you stress and fear. Chances are that most of them revolve around money, spending your time thinking about not having it. If you decide to see what you DO HAVE, rather than what you don’t — your focus will shift to the positive and you will quickly change the face of your life for you and your family. If your children see you living fully each and every day despite the lack of things, they too will be reminded of the simple pleasures and you will be allowing them to live happily, no matter what the world around them is doing.
Obviously then, money is important. However, it is important to realize that money is not the measure of success or familial happiness. Money doesn’t take things away from us — but actually gives us a chance to get our mindset right, so that we can live with or without it. Millions of people in this world live in a state of poverty that most of us could not imagine. And while we shouldn’t feel bad for expecting or wanting more for ourselves, we also shouldn’t be limited by a number value in our bank accounts. Our dreams, aspirations, and future are not dictated by what we have or do not have. Yes, money can make many things easier — but it can also act as a blinder that makes our vision obscure. If you can live with money, you should also be able to live without it. Living without abundant money doesn’t dictate an unfulfilled life; rather, it forces us to be creative in our thinking, and simple in our choices for finding pleasure. When the money returns, we will be much better off having lived without it and reconnecting to the simple things in our lives that bring us happiness.
“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.” — President Franklin D. Roosevelt
CEO/Founder at We Can Save Children
Director of Creative Development at African Views Organization
Economic & Social Council at United Nations
Middle East Correspondent at Wall Street News Agency
Rescue & Recovery Specialist at International Confederation of Police & Security Experts