One of the things that saddens me the most is the emphasis that our culture places on money. We grow up our whole lives hearing about how important money is. Jobs are compared to one another by salaries, people are judged by one another based not on the character of their heart, but by the amount of money they do or don’t have. People often measure the successfullness of their lives not by the experiences they’ve been a part of, but by the amount of money they’ve managed to make.
And it’s not surprising is it. We grow up believing that having money and having possessions and having a high paying job will make us happy. This post isn’t supposed to be about consumerism (maybe another time) so I won’t go into how we are bombarded with this ideology, but I think it’s fairly evident we are in our media, commercials, and the significance we give to living a lavished lifestyle. Money is our country’s religion, and this “theology” for most citizens is the single greatest cause of anxiety, worry, negative self-image, and more generally unhappiness.
A professor of mine likes to use the humorous quote that “All generalizations are false,” but I think the statement that everyone wants to be happy is closest to truth than nearly anything else. Unfortunately, the path that so many of us have been brainwashed into taking leads us to seek happiness through what we HAVE, and not through what we DO.
People’s lives these days consist of going to school, so that they can one day go to college, so that they can one day have a job, so that they can one day stare at lots of numbers in their bank account and own lots of things, because they believe that will make them happy…
BUT THERE IS SO MUCH MORE TO LIFE THAN THAT! And this is what I’ve been thinking about…
There is an entire world out-there to see, 7 billion people to meet, millions of things to try, thousands of cultures to experience, hundreds of countries and 7 continents to visit, and only one life to live.
It is absolutely incomprehensible to me how there are people my age and younger that have already committed themselves to career paths that promise high salaries and immeasurably amounts of stress and work, setting aside time “later-on” in life for travel and other invaluable experiences.
The path to fortune too often is surrounded by walls, and those walking it are left so narrow-sighted that they fail to see or recognize the value of anything else when it comes to being happy. I find it ironic that the “pursuit of happiness” is so often plagued by worry, overwhelming amounts of stress, discontent, anger, judgment, greed, selfishness, and corruption. This to me, is simply because the “pursuit of happiness” is a fallacy!!!!
One of my all time favorite quotes is that, “Now and again, it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy,” by Guillaume Apollinaire. The idea that happiness is something that must be pursued, or achieved, or eventually gained is simply not true! Happiness comes from relationship, from kindness, from generosity, from learning, from experience. From all the things already taking place in our “pursuit of happiness!”
If we, nearly universally, are all seeking happiness, shouldn’t the success of our lives then be measured by the amount of lives we’ve touched, the number of things we’ve experienced, the number of places we’ve been and seen, and the things we have felt?
Shouldn’t we make traveling, doing things we love, our relationships, and learning our top priority, far, far, far higher than the amount of money we have and worth of our possessions?
We should be encouraged to do well in school not to earn lots of money, but to learn all that we can. We should be encouraged not to pursue jobs that promise high salaries, but to pursue jobs that we love. We should be encouraged not to seek happiness, but to be happy.
That’s the way I see at least… But alas, I am young and naive, my opinions almost certainly subject to change as I grow older…
Anyway, my intention is not to leave you with a pessimistic view of money, or even a sense of concern, but rather to encourage you to go do! Go travel. Go learn. Go help someone for no reason. Go experience all that there is to experience, and go show someone that you don’t need anything more than what you already have to be happy. -JG