Your beliefs about money, Part two

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost
1874 – 1963

We’re all familiar with the saying “money can’t buy happiness.” But do you believe it? I suspect the answer is no. If you truly believed it, why would you spend so much of your time and energy trying to acquire money for material things?

Part of the answer lies in our primitive drives. One of the strongest instincts is survival, and a few thousand years ago, having sufficient food and shelter was necessary for personal survival. A related instinct is the survival of the species. For our ancestors, better quantities and quality of food and shelter led to better choice of mates. These primitive drives still influence us in modern times.

Unfortunately, we’ve taken those needs to a much higher level. We don’t just want clothing; we want a closet full of the latest fashions. We aren’t willing to settle for adequate shelter; we crave housing that exhibits elite status. In our minds, our wants have become needs.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with living in comfort; I’m all for it. But when we try to validate our self-worth through our possessions, we’re headed down the wrong path. Acquiring material things provides temporary satisfaction; the key word there is temporary. No matter how significant a material acquisition is, the sense of accomplishment will soon fade. We’re then led to reach for something bigger and better, and we soon find ourselves in a Catch 22: the more we accomplish, the more we need to accomplish.

In my opinion, taking the wrong path is a result of incorrect beliefs about money.

What’s the other path? A life goal of satisfying action instead of material success. If your goal is to live life with a purpose, then the accumulation of material things becomes secondary.

Can you achieve satisfaction in life without all the trappings of wealth? Yes. But you need to shift from the way most people think about money. You need to stop measuring your worth by what you own.

Take some time to really think about what’s important in life. Don’t focus on the short term. One day, all of your material possessions will be gone. And at the end of your life, you’ll value your memories more than your money. So make sure the memories you accumulate are ones that will bring warmth in the winter of your life.

Let not the fruits of action be thy motive.
Bhagavad Gita

Copyright © 2009 John Chancellor

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