Money Isn’t Just About Money
It’s about paying the price to engage.
It is relatively easy to denounce the primary importance that money has taken on in our societies.
Money as a way of success leads us to constantly compare ourselves, to pursue our own material and selfish interests. It distances ourselves from the true value of things and life.
But we generally put little effort into understanding the psychological effect that the possession and spending of money have on us. In particular, the powerful feeling driving our use of money: the fear of losing what we have. This feeling is paradoxically at the root of our motivation for wealth. If we want to earn money so much, it is above all to avoid losing it.
What I have noticed is that the same negative and selfish feeling around money can have also a truly positive influence on our behavior.
By making us feel the real cost of things, the true value of our time and our life, we are forced to take action, in order to avoid losing the enjoyment we already have.
The behaviors produced by money are far from always negative. Of course, there will always be those who keep the money for their own material interests. Those who are in search of wealth for the sole purpose of gain.
But everyone has money and uses it every day. Everyone is psychologically involved in its use. And in general, this use provokes in us an otherwise positive feeling: the feeling that we owe ourselves the expenses we have made. The feeling of having to act in order not to regret losing money.
Let me describe the power of this feeling in our actions.
Paying Your Attention, Your Time and Your Money
Every time we spend doing something, every time we give our attention and time to someone, we draw on and consumes on our own resources.
Our time as that of everyone else’s is valuable because the time we spend day after day is limited. We know this instinctively, and yet not all situations remind us of it in the same way.
There are situations where we forget this precious value of our available time. When we are focused on the immediate concerns of our lives, work or projects, it is easy to forget the priorities, what is vital to us and what is more futile.
In such cases, we gradually waste the resources and the potential of our life. The opportunity cost, what could have been done, learned and experienced instead, the force that is day by day growing within us, we neglect it for a more obvious value, that of the present.
Faced with this situation, our reaction as that of everyone else’s feel often like this: making excuses, we think that it doesn’t matter, that we can live like that very well, that we have time, a lot of time ahead of us, actually.
Yet, despite everything, every time we prioritize our present interest over the global value of our life, a bitter feeling inevitably grips us.
Emotion does not lie: we feel that we are wasting our time, doing things that are not meant to be our life.
This feeling is actually deeply related to our obsession with money.
Money and The Burden of Loss
Why do we care so much about money?
The emotional power of money is rooted in what is a very important psychological burden: the fear of loss.
It is known that man hates the feeling of missing an opportunity. The feeling of not receiving what would have been due to them, of losing what they would normally have easily retained, which they have full rights of possession. Eventually, earning something more is not as important as avoiding the loss of what we have.
To ensure any loss, we like thus to own and acquire money. To strengthen the possession we exercise over our objects, our time, our life and our happiness.
In fact, money and everything it represents, i.e. the monetization of social relationships and all aspects of our lives, is a powerful reminder that the time we use at a cost to us, that our choices are a big deal to carefully think about.
Strangely enough, by making us feel the true value of things, it also gives us the urgency to acquire more, to act and to invest more. It gives us the importance of choosing the right path and the strength to take it.
By insisting on the significant cost that a bad choice would have for us, it pushes us to weigh our decisions, to make them meaningful and decisive, to make them a matter of survival (if I don’t make the right choice, I lose everything). It transmits to us the spirit of a gambler.
This is often how are behavior, habits and lifestyle are shaped and changed: by paying a significant price for us, by really feeling the expanses we make (enough to make us feel a potential loss), we then allow ourselves to change and engage persistently in our changes.
It is also the same strategies used by companies to really make an impact on our life: by making us pay a high price, the one sufficient to weight our choices, they keep us on track with our personal commitments.
This can be called a duty to oneself.
The Sentiment of Owing It to Yourself: About Freedom.
Wealth undoubtedly has an effect on the behavior of those who possess it, and not only because it raises people beyond the need for survival.
To have a relatively important wealth is to no longer be just anyone, it is to be worthy of what you own. The richest kind of people feel the need to prove themselves because it is what is money is telling of them: you are now worthy of something.
But this feeling doesn’t exist without the pain of an expense. A greedy man who collects and keeps his money for the sole purpose of keeping it for himself does not express responsibility for the future. That man keeps himself from the pain.
Although if you really bet all your money, putting it on the table, you no longer have the right to make mistakes. Because the last thing you expect is to lose your money, that is, to have no money in return.
You are therefore obliged to put all the means on your side to ensure your money grows in the future. You are obliged to undertake, to be ambitious, to think about the prosperity of your wealth and that of the whole society, which is a part of it.
Investment necessarily leads the initiative, because you don’t want to regret spending your money for nothing. It leads to putting a price on your lives, not taking your occupations and time lightly, at the risk of missing the opportunity. This is the spirit of capitalism, puritan and serious, as Max Weber has tried to describe it.
What it is still to be understood is that giving this danger of losing to our lives opened us to a full and complete sense of freedom: that of play and risk, that of independence, where we accept the things that are happening to us as our own. Where we experience intense feelings today because we could lose everything tomorrow.