When you’re in your twenties, it’s fun to crash on the couch with your friends, swap clothes, get your furniture at the charity shop and have no idea whatsoever about how you’ll earn money in the future. But once you’re 35 or older, it feels a bit awkward to post another message on Facebook asking who can offer you a place to sleep.
Money isn’t the most important thing in life, and money in itself doesn’t make you happy. Research shows that people who won the lottery, don’t feel significantly happier afterwards. However, we all need money to buy food, pay the rent or mortgage, and go to the occasional concert, play or movie. It also allows you to feed your children, buy their diapers and, later on, send them to college. In short: to play our part in society, we can’t live without money.
Of course you can choose to live in a monastery, or in a self-supporting community. You can live in Plum Village, or buy a small farm in Italy with your friends and grow your own food. But the problems you’ll encounter in small societies are often the same ones we encounter in society as a whole. And once you’ve chosen to leave society, but you don’t like your new life as much as you’d expected, it’s difficult to go back.
Perhaps, if you want to live spiritually, you can think of money as part of the whole – as part of our eco system. If you decide not to wear a coat when it’s cold, you’ll get ill. But if you put on a coat and make sure others are warm by making a fire, that’s a far more social thing to do than protest society by getting cold. Yes, money causes lots of trouble. But don’t forget that, if you’re really poor, life is much more difficult. If you have to worry about money, your brain functions differently, and you tend to make decisions that –in the end- won’t benefit you.
So maybe you can think of it this way: money is a means to keep yourself healthy and fit, and to make sure your loved ones will lead a stable and safe life. This way of thinking ensures you don’t let money guide you, and your life doesn’t consist of collecting bank notes. Besides, if you have more money than you need, there are tons of charities that you could support – turning the world into a better place.
Text: Marijn Baar – Photo: Christian Dubovan
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