When asking ‘is everything about money’, there’s a lot more than meets the eye. The reason behind that question is far more important because, fundamentally, you’re seeking resolve for a problem you perceive in the world or your own life. Here are a few common examples:
- Those juggling work-life balance may question the extent to which their career and financial pursuits dominate their lives
- People who are critical of consumerism and its impact on society may question the relentless pursuit of material wealth.
- People experiencing financial difficulties or hardship may question the impact of money on their lives and well-being.
- Those who are passionate about social justice may question the distribution of wealth and its implications for society.
- Men’s financial status may raise questions about his suitability to secure and maintain a relationship.
You need to think carefully about this because your mindset towards money may ultimately shape your future – years of your life you will never get back.
This question is complex but let me give you the short answer first. Everything is not about money, and instead value. Currency is just a way for us to measure value for exchanges within our economic system. But value also includes other things such as your time, skills, assets, humour, intelligence, influence and connections. Shifting your mindset towards value will help you understand solutions rather than focus on problems.
For example, friendships aren’t about money. But you do get value from the laughs, the memories, the interesting conversations. What we perceive as valuable guides us towards the right people and away from the wrong ones. Real friends can sit in a field and have a great day together. If you look at it financially, maybe you can’t afford to go out and this prevents you from meeting people to have a good time. But this indicates that it’s the external environment saving an otherwise shallow relationship.
Ask yourself what things you value the most in life. Is it happiness, self preservation, achievement, memories, status, comfort, relationships, positive impact, freedom, health, power?
Money means more when poor
Try telling the 14+ million British people living in poverty that money doesn’t mean everything. It’s difficult because they can’t afford to pay for basic needs. When living paycheque to paycheque you’re in scarcity and money would solve those woes giving you stress. While factors like mental health issues and debt can keep you in a downwards spiral, consider how value orientation could save you from this situation. A low income earner doesn’t provide enough value to land a well paid job.
Speaking from experience, putting in extra hours each week to learn and improve your skills can help you bring more value to your current job or move into a new career with more opportunity. This fixation on value will inevitably elevate your life to a point where you don’t need to worry about being fired because there will always be companies or customers willing to exchange money for something valuable. Hence, money ends up having less control over your choices in life.
Do you need money to be happy?
A 2010 study showed that happiness doesn’t increase after £48,000 annual income but another in 2021 suggested that more money makes you happier, so which is true?
Ask yourself why you want money. In most cases, you’ll find money isn’t the root of what you want, quite the opposite. That Ferrari and giant house with the 7 spare bedrooms you’ll never use may give you a short-term dopamine spike for momentary pleasure but then your hormone levels return to normal and you feel no better than before. To keep getting a dopamine hit you repeat the endless cycle of consumption that could lead to addiction, impulsivity, and risk-taking behaviour.
Ultimately, this can be destructive and deflect from potential underlying problems. For instance, some rich men spend lots on status possessions to impress women. While this helps get a foot in the door, he could have achieved the same level of success driving a Toyota without dedicating years of his life to making millions.
Chasing dopamine hits isn’t exclusive to the wealthy, everyday people burn through all their money to fuel the hedonistic treadmill. Anything from takeaways to financing a new car to unsustainable mortgage payments. It’s often living above your means that causes the negative emotions. Adjusting to a more frugal lifestyle that allows you to save money is healthy for your state of wellness. It gives you a safety net and opportunities to grow wealth, which brings you peace of mind.
What is life about?
Money is important but focusing on the bigger picture is crucial for life satisfaction. Forgot about money as a precursor to everything else and start adopting a more holistic view that nurtures many things at once. Focus on how you can add value to your life in 6 key areas: health, wealth, relationships, interests, self actualisation, and impact.
Health – Good physical and mental health is the foundation for overall well-being. It enables you to enjoy life, pursue your interests, and engage in relationships. Health contributes significantly to happiness and life satisfaction.
Wealth – Financial stability can provide a sense of security and freedom, allowing you to meet basic needs, pursue hobbies, and achieve life goals. While wealth is important, its impact on life satisfaction tends to diminish once basic needs are met.
Relationships – Positive, fulfilling relationships with family, friends, and loved ones can bring joy and support. They provide emotional connection, companionship, and a sense of belonging, which are crucial for life satisfaction.
Interests – Pursuing hobbies and interests that you are passionate about can add meaning and enjoyment to your life. They offer a sense of accomplishment and personal fulfilment.
Self-Actualisation – Achieving personal growth and self-actualisation, which involves realising your full potential and pursuing your passions, can lead to a deep sense of fulfilment and life satisfaction.
Impact – Making a positive impact on the lives of others, your community, or the world can provide a profound sense of purpose and contribute to life satisfaction. Knowing that your actions matter and make a difference can be highly rewarding.
Everything starts with changing your mindset. If you are always learning then you must always be evolving. So if you want life to get better, embrace change as a good thing. This is hard when your identity is rooted in habits, ideology and how others are going to perceive you. Take the first step and commit to self improvement as a lifestyle and a brutally honest evaluation of how the past has shaped you, what is currently good and missing in your life, and then derive the ideal person and lifestyle you want to see in the future so you can work to getting there.
When evaluating your life, remember the person you are right now is a culmination of past experiences and societal conditioning, so how much of what you value is authentic to your true self and will bring you inner peace in the future? Socrates said ‘know thyself’. Rather than assume you already do, keep questioning your own beliefs and attitudes. This is the building block of identifying what’s wrong and growing from a place of strength.