Leveling Up My Outlook on Money
Past a certain level, working costs you more than it earns you.
Tomorrow is my birthday. My parents called me earlier in the day and suggested that we go together to choose a present this afternoon. My mission was to think about what I wanted.
The more I thought about it, the emptier I felt.
Some situations make you feel strong and unpleasant emotions, often anger or sadness, and you don’t know why. Two options are available to you: wait for the emotion to pass, or dig deeper and find out where it comes from. The latter is a complicated exercise because the source of our emotions is most often deep and hidden.
I chose to dig deeper. And it brought me proof of something fundamental about money.
Money is useless (for most things that truly matter).
I have become more and more minimalist, and less and less materialistic. It has therefore become difficult for me to go beyond the “I need” to reach the “I would like”.
The truth is I don’t need anything. I live simply, but I am already fulfilled. It is true that I could replace this pair of shoes, or buy myself a slightly warmer sweatshirt, but more possessions seem useless to me.
The situation made me realize that nothing that could be bought was actually what I wanted. For my birthday, I wanted happiness. For my birthday, I wanted passion. For my birthday, I wanted something that gave shivers to my skin and fire to my soul.
And nothing you could find in the stores matched these requirements. This made me feel empty. I already knew this, but it confirmed to me that the pursuit of money is actually a fake goal.
“It doesn’t matter about money; having it, not having it. Or having clothes, or not having them. You’re still left alone with yourself in the end.” — Billy Idol
It’s all about levels.
It would be wrong to say that money doesn’t bring happiness. It contributes to it. It really does.
I probably wouldn’t be happy if I didn’t have the privilege of having a roof over my head, food on my plate, clothes on my skin and warm water running down my spine, mixed with the smell of soap every day. We have to meet certain human needs that are totally bought by money. That is why we work: to feed these needs. To fill the daily tank.
My family and I are far from being gamblers, but we buy lottery tickets once or twice a year. This often leads to conversations such as: what would you buy with it, would it make you happier, etc. Most of the time, we think that winning this incredible amount of money would make us insanely happy. But I’ve been doubting that for some time now. And today it has been confirmed.
What’s the point?
What would this amount of money add to my happiness? Almost nothing. My basic needs are already met. Today, I could have bought anything I wanted for my birthday, and all it made me feel is emptiness. I wanted nothing. Nothing that money can buy.
So much money wouldn’t make me any happier. For one reason: my most basic needs are already being met. Level 1 happiness has been reached. Level 2 is in another world. It’s no longer in the world of money. It’s beyond.
“Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.” — Jim Rohn
What’s your Level 2?
If you have enough money to cover your basic needs + a few hobbies, I would rather say you have enough. Now I have one question for you: what do you do when you’re no longer thirsty? You stop drinking, don’t you? So why don’t you do the same thing with money, i.e. work?
We have a problem with that. We’re chasing after money. We always want more. But it’s a fake goal, which we pursue because we don’t know of a better one.
More money won’t make you happy. That is not where your happiness lies. If your Level 1 is filled, then it’s time to fill your Level 2, and Level 2 doesn’t fill with money. Instead of spending your days, your weeks, your life working, thinking that more money will buy you a happier life, you should consider using your now acquired free time to find out what makes you truly happy, what excites you, what makes you want to wake up in the morning, and then devote large amounts of time to it.
Know where your Level 1 is. How much you need to earn per month to cover Level 1. Then look beyond money. Beyond Level 1, working costs you more than you earn. It costs your time, your life, that you acquired through working for Level 1. Do you follow?
Level 1 allows you to earn a living, in the strict sense of the word: you can eat, sleep, live. But that’s all you earn with it. That’s all the money can do. If you use the time provided by Level 1 to complete a little more of Level 1, it’s wasted time. It’s like continuing to drink when you’re not thirsty anymore.
More often than not, we make this mistake: we spend our days working because we don’t know what else to do with our time. Isn’t it sad? The solution is to make the effort, to take the time to find what makes you fulfilled as a human being. If you don’t immediately come up with an idea, then the work can take quite a long time. But that thing is one of the reasons for being alive. So make the effort to find out what you genuinely want to do with your time. Work is not the answer. It’s only a means to an end.
If you are reading this on your smartphone or laptop screen, sitting comfortably on a couch, I would rather say that your Level 1 is covered. Determine how much work you need to put out to keep that Level 1 filled, and then go get Level 2.
That’s where all the good stuff is.
“Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” — Henry David Thoreau