Money often costs too much. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
The tragedy dates to 1859, when around 450 passengers on the Royal Charter, returning from the Australian goldmines to England, drowned when their ship was wrecked off the north coast of Wales.
What caused this shipwreck? Well, many of those on board were weighed down by the gold in their money belts that they just wouldn’t abandon so close to home.
You see, most of us, most of the time, would agree with this statement attributed to actress Mae West –
I’ve been rich, and I’ve been poor. And, believe me, rich is better.
But there comes a point when we have achieved a comfortable (sometimes, way more) standard of living and yet we continue to strive for more stuff.
The reason could be found in what the father of modern economics Adam Smith wrote in 1759 –
The rich man glories in his riches because he feels that they naturally draw upon him the attention of the world.
So, not only does material wealth make for a more comfortable life, but we also derive satisfaction from the perceived admiration of others.
And not just that, we come to know ourselves by the things we possess, including money. Maybe this is why ‘Mine!’ is one of the common words used by preschoolers, and a large number of conflicts in playschools are over the possession of toys. It starts that early!
Ruskin Bond wrote this in A Book of Simple Living –
If you owe nothing, you are rich.
Money doesn’t make people happy. But neither does poverty.
The secret, then, is to have as much as you need – or maybe a little more, and then share what you have.
I believe our lives are not defined by what we possess, but by what we pursue.
History has ample proof that it is not what people (like Alexander and Hitler) have tried to possess, but what people (like Einstein and Gandhi) pursued that brought meaning to their lives and to those around them.
“I enjoy life,” Seneca said, “because I am ready to leave it.”
In his book On the Shortness of Life, Seneca wrote this –
As far as I am concerned, I know that I have lost not wealth but distractions. The body’s needs are few: it wants to be free from cold, to banish hunger and thirst with nourishment; if we long for anything more we are exerting ourselves to serve our vices, not our needs.
Imagine if we can unburden ourselves of 90% of our worldly goods, it should not be difficult to leave the remaining 10% behind?
Right? Wrong? What do you think?