Why Money Is Not Enough
Having money can be great. Just look at people on a yacht! Here in the UAE we see people who look like they have tons of money all the time. I teach their children in "swanky" private schools, so I get to see a lot of them up close and even get to know them.
On the surface, it's easy to envy them. They will never have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, or how they'll pay the rent this month. Their biggest decision is if they'll go to Paris or the Maldives for vacation. Or at least that's what we like to project on them. To an extent, it's true. Money can give people choices and experiences that others simply don't have access to.
This gets more complicated when we actually look at many of the problems of the modern world, because for many problems, money really doesn't provide an easy solution, and some problems are actually made worse by the presence of riches. Some of you are probably reading this and saying, "So what? I don't care about rich people problems, I would kill to have rich people problems!" And to you, I say, wait, I promise this can help you too.
Here is a short list of problems that money can't easily solve:
Being obese - rich countries like those in the Gulf have extremely high rates of obesity.
Divorce and family drama - this happens no matter how much money you have, and money can make those conflicts much more complicated.
Not being able to sleep - your racing thoughts or back pain don't care about your bank balance.
Knowing what your purpose is - just because you have money, it doesn't mean you have found a job that satisfies your soul.
Boredom - It seems like the more money people have, the less they find exciting and interesting, just look at the students in my school!
Traffic jams on your commute - Both the Ferrari and the Honda get stuck in the great equalizer of the traffic jam.
Parents who watch Fox News - Or hold other noxious ideological positions.
Most mental health issues - Schizophrenia, Borderline Personality Disorder, Paranoia, etc, all of these don't care how much money you have.
Hot Dogs come in packs of 6, and the buns come in packs of 8- what's up with that?
Here are some problems that are actually WORSE when you have money:
Knowing if your friends or spouse actually like you or are only in it for the money
Having to insure and maintain expensive possessions - A Bugatti Veyron's oil change costs 70,000 AED!
Not having to develop your own creativity or resourcefulness because you can often just pay to make a problem go away.
The reason that this article isn't just to make you pity rich people is that it points us to common barriers that we need to overcome, no matter how many assets we own or how much debt we owe. As Abraham Maslow showed in his groundbreaking "Hierarchy of Needs" work in 1943, the path to true happiness has many steps. Having money may help with the first two steps at the bottom, Physiological needs and Safety needs (although even the physiological one is debatable, especially when it comes to mental health and addiction), there are still five levels above those which need to be resolved before the highest level of "Transcendence" is reached. Great spiritual teachers like Buddha have long preached that it does not take money to be free of suffering, and that money can indeed be a hindrance in the process.
All of us, no matter our socio-economic status, have to work hard to climb the ladder of Needs. Money only helps us boost up one or two steps. The rest, we all have to do, no matter how much cash we have in the bank.
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