2.28.2006

Ramstions 1 - Wealth

Let’s talk about money. Everyone wants to be rich, right? I don’t want to be, does that make me crazy?

Let’s start out with this question. What makes you happy? Do your fondest memories revolve around spending mucho dinero? Most of mine don’t. I love to go camping and then waking up early in the morning for a hike while the grass is still wet with dew and the nightly spider webs still crisscross the trails. I love hanging out with friends to watch a movie at home, play a board game, or show off my video game skills. These are things that I associate with having a good time and they cost me little or no money.

Sure there are other activities like snowboarding trips that do cost a fair amount of money, but I don’t need to be rich to afford these trips I just need to save some money. I think this idea of needing to save money is paramount to my argument here. I believe that this saving money makes the item I’m saving for more valuable to me and results in a higher level of happiness. When you were a kid didn't covet less expensive things? Now that you can easily afford those cheaper things, they don’t offer you nearly as much joy when you obtain them. The media and our consumer based society shouts at you that if you had more money to spend you could afford the things you want and you would be happy. Yet I’m seeing data here that says if I had more money I would just need to spend more money to achieve the same happiness level.

For all you video game players out there, let’s look at it from a different angle. Many video games have the alluring “cheat codes”. These cheat codes do various things in the game from making you invincible to giving you infinite money. When I was younger I thought these cheat codes were the bomb and I’d used them all the time. Now that I’m a little older I realize that whenever I used these codes they made the game boring and I’d quit playing the game a few days later. Because of this realization I don’t use them anymore. Obviously real life is a more complicated than a video game and it’s more difficult to get bored, but I do think there is a parallelism that can be drawn. I think being rich can take something out of life and make it a little more boring and less adventuresome. Just like I think having exactly the same weather (even if it was great weather) would get boring after while. I believe at the very least being wealthy would force you to be more self motivated to keep yourself entertained. I’m not sure if I’m motivated enough of a person to pull that off. I love my job, but if I were rich would I have enough motivation to keep going to work? If I decided to not to work, but donate my time to charity or other tasks would I be motivated enough to find enough to fill all this time work used to fill?

This brings me to my last logical argument. I think changes in your life is a big part of what makes it exciting. I like to go to work and I like to play. I don’t think I’d be as happy doing just one of these. I know some people are not fortunate enough to love there jobs, but perhaps if they take away that downward trend caused by their work the highs wouldn’t be as exciting for them. Think of life as if it were a rollercoaster. You can’t have all ups or all downs you need some of each. Neither one is exciting or even possible by itself. In the same way maybe people have a built in need to have variety in their life if they want to better appreciate the good times. Maybe humans at a subconscious level are hardwired to need to give something back in society before they can enjoy taking something from society. Capitalism is an implementation of this need by giving us money to do what we want only after giving society our services. This makes me wonder if someone becomes rich through luck maybe they are not short circuiting this whole built in need thus resulting in a lower happiness.

Over the years, I’ve read a few new stories about people who claimed their life was better before they won a large lottery. I’ve also read studies showing that rich people aren’t statistically happier than the middle class. I’ve even read how that as long as the basic needs of people in the poorer nations of the world are met these people tend to live happier lives than people in the United States. Sorry no more research here. Just a few stories and papers I remember reading, but this does say at the very least there are cases where money doesn't equal happiness. Research isn’t the basis of this editorial anyways. It’s all about what logically makes sense to me when I sit down and think about it. Hopefully it’s starting to get those gears in your head thinking that maybe, just maybe society is wrong on this one.

In the end I can’t say that I would hate being rich, because there is a possibility that I would like it. But I can say I have no great desire to be rich, and I think for me becoming wealthy is a bigger risk than the payout could be. I live a very good life right now, and I don’t see why I would want to risk that by doing something stupid like winning the lottery.

1 Comments:

At 1:25 AM, Blogger JB said...

I agree g.w.--if I wanted to be rich, it would only be be because I would use the money to accomplish things and suport the cause I care most about--the Gospel. But I wouldn't want to live rich. Its the hard trials that have kept me humble and made me realize what sort of friends I have. Anyway, thanks for stopping by my blog and I was just checking out yours and read a post. Nice blog--keep writing. JB

 

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