We are, you might say, “brainwashed” into thinking that money is the source of happiness, while what we really need to know is that inner peace is something that comes from within.”
~ The Dalai Lama
I’ve noticed a worrying trend in the number of adverts on UK television for lotteries, bingo or betting websites.
Add to that the multitude of game shows where the participants could win large sums of money, and the emphasis seems to be on money all the time.
I’ve watched a couple of episodes of “Undercover Boss” recently – filmed in the UK, the USA and Australia – and the message is the same.
When these bosses discover valuable members of staff during their time under cover, they generally reward them with a sum of money to cover the cost of a holiday, respite care for a sick relative, or college fees.
Then there’s “Secret Millionaire”, where a wealthy business person again goes under cover, but this time posing as a new resident in the area, looking for voluntary work. At the end of the week, the millionaire makes donations to the charities they have come across which seem to be doing the most valuable work.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing for wealthy people to give money to those who are less financially blessed – although I would prefer a world where this was unnecessary.
I’m just saying that money seems to be becoming an obsession – also with me.
Having got myself into debt over the past few years, I became aware that my every waking thought was centred around money – or the lack of it. That has eased, now that I have more regular client work – so I can now focus on what I want to do, rather than thinking all the time: “how much will this pay me?”
Because – although I accept that money is vitally important – money doesn’t bring happiness. It’s not the money – it’s what you do with it that counts.
The Source of Happiness
In the book “Love, Medicine and Miracles” Dr Bernie Siegel, a cancer specialist in the USA, tells the story of one of his terminally-ill patients, who was lying in his hospital bed, waiting to die. A friend came to visit and asked what he would love to do more than anything else in the world.
The patient replied, quite abruptly, that it was pointless thinking about such things, because he wasn’t expected to live more than a month. The friend persisted, though.
Finally, the patient said he would love to learn how to do sculpture. “Where would you like to learn?” his friend asked. “Italy.” Following the conversation, the friend organised with the patient’s family to send him to a school in Italy, so that he could learn how to sculpt.
Six months later, the “patient” was still living very happily in Italy, and had fallen in love with a local girl. To all intents and purposes, his cancer was – if not “cured” – certainly in remission. Then he got a call from his family, who needed him to return to the USA and take up his former role in the family business. Within a month, he was dead.
I think there needs to be a balance between the need to earn money and the desire for deeper fulfilment. It’s important to earn enough money to pay for the basic needs, without bankrupting yourself. It’s important to put a roof over your head and food on the table.
However, money is clearly NOT the source of happiness. As long as you have your basic needs covered, true happiness comes from doing something that makes you feel alive.
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