Are We Money Obsessed?

Your total is $10.75, I said to the older gentleman. While I was in high school, I worked part-time as a hostess for a family restaurant, I greeted, seated and rang up guests. As he looked through his worn out leather wallet, he said, “I used to be rich and miserable, now that I am broke and happy, I would rather be rich and miserable again.” I responded with a smile as I handed him his change and watched him walk out.

Many would argue money can buy happiness, while others would disagree that it cannot. Money fulfills our needs and wants through the instant gratification we get from the tangibles. We are unaware of that ephemeral feeling because it is easily replaced with the next ephemeral feeling from our next purchase. We fear losing money and not having it, but rarely do we ever fear having it and attaining it.

The association with money and happiness is common, while the common misconception with not having any money is worry and stress. A man with money can be as unhappy, worried and stressed as the man without any. Isn’t it ironic how we fail to see it’s no different? The stress and worry we put ourselves through isn’t from the inability to afford the things we have or don’t have, it’s the dependent mentality we’ve created that we need it to be happy. If we are unhappy with ourselves, no amount of money will fix that.

He used two words to describe his past, "rich" and "miserable." The luxury of money didn’t give him the happiness he was looking for nor did the things that came from having it. His wants changed as often as his unhappiness grew. He described his present self as broke and happy. He accepted the misfortune of losing everything and knew it was the beginning of finding what he was missing. Stripped from all material possessions, he found the meaning of his life.

He stopped concerning himself with having money to find what made him happy. He knew, should he have that opportunity to be in that same position again, his happiness would only carry over because he was no longer dependent on the ephemeral feeling of what money could give him. That man found the secret to happiness. In the brief conversation we had together, I was unknowingly being shared a lifelong lesson I would not fully understand until I was ready to, 6 years later.

Why are we willing to do whatever it takes to make money? For most of us, it’s working the long hours at a job we hate for a company that focuses strictly on the bottom line. The more money we make for them, the more valuable we become. This explains why they are in business as well as our employer and why we are the consumer and still the employee. Money has no more value than the value others place on it. We are willing to sacrifice our time and well-being for a disposable title and salary, but are hardly ever willing to make the same sacrifices to make something of ourselves.

We’ve dreamed of coming into a large fortune through a promotion, a lottery scratch-card or a business of our own. We’ve dreamed of the possibilities of living a different lifestyle, having nicer things and the comfort of not feeling the need to work. Stop concerning yourself with what money can give you, then ask yourself what value money has to give you -- there isn’t any. We’ve concerned ourselves with having money when it is only a byproduct of what we do. When what we do fails to bring out the passion, drive and motivation within us, it is the result of our unhappiness.

Remember, nobody forces us to work the jobs we currently have. We made the choice to work there. We applied and were offered a job or were in need of a job, accepted any job we managed to get and settled. Money is simply a byproduct of being great at what you do. The money will continue to follow if you choose to do what you love and continue to be great at it.

Marie Dario | Elite.