We have a question by Sushmita

Can money buy happiness? When I see people suffering in poverty but still happy, I begin to wonder can money really buy happiness? It is a known fact that money cannot buy happiness. Then why is everyone running after money, even after it is well known that money cannot buy happiness.

Let us first understand what money is.

Money is a technology that is used to store value. Value exists in different forms and shapes. Wealth (Laxmi) exists in different forms. Some people have lot of money, some have exceptional skills, some have experience and so on.

So you really cannot compare a wealthy man with a skilled one.

A man who has a lot of wealth in his bank thinks that he is wealthy. However, the same man is not at all wealthy in an interview table for a position that needs skills that he doesn’t have. In the interview table, this man is poor.

So when you say wealth, what exactly do you mean?

  • Do you relate to the physical form of wealth – Laxmi?
  • Do you relate to the intellectual form of wealth – Saraswati?
  • Do you relate to the emotional form of wealth – Durga?

Money can Buy happiness – Laxmi, Saraswati and Durga

It is a misconception that money cannot buy happiness.  Happiness is simply the equation of value generation, you will need to generate and churn value in order to enjoy the pleasures of the world.

To a certain extent, Laxmi is required for happiness. It is a necessity. You will need enough to rent a house, afford transport, buy food, drink water and meet your everyday expenses.

To a certain extent, Saraswati is required for happiness. It is a necessity. If you have no intellectual wealth, you cannot enjoy the pleasures of reading, writing, art, dance, music, poetry and thoughts.

To a certain extent, Durga is required for happiness. It is a necessity. If you have no emotional wealth, you cannot enjoy the pleasures of being recognized, having power, responsibility and be known for what you do well.

So the key thing is generating value. If you do not generate value, it is difficult to attain a basic level of happiness in a material world.

Happiness is affected by Choice

People who are stricken by poverty have learned how to be happy without generating any value. That is an art that they have learned overtime. This is because they do not have enough choice. When a brain knows that it has no other option left, it will automatically become happy. Your happiness is disturbed when you have multiple choices.

Let me share an example with you.

When I was 20 years old, a lady used to come to our house to help my mother in daily household chores. She had a 6 year old daughter and I used to play with her. One day I asked the girl

“Don’t you want to go to school and play with other kids?

The lady overheard this and she told me

Don’t tell her those things. We cannot afford school for her and if you tell her these things, she will pester me and we will become sad.

I said

But by not giving a good education to your child, aren’t you causing misery for her? How will she survive in this material world when she grows up? Will you provide for her? You haven’t had any education yourself and you want your daughter to follow you blindly. You are the mother, it is your duty to give her education and a good upbringing. How can you be so selfish to your own child?

To this the lady told me something which I will never forget all my life

Son, it is easy to say these things when you have enough through inheritance. You have inherited basic things by default. You have a house which your father has built. You have received education, thanks to your father. You have guidance in every step because your father is educated. So it is easy for you to say these things, since you have someone to guide you along the way.

My daughter has no father. He abandoned us and I have no education, so I cannot guide her like your father has guided you for 20 years. If I send her to school, tomorrow she will want to go to college. I cannot afford it. Even if I work hard and save enough money, if my daughter receives enough education, one day she will also abandon me because I am living a miserable life as per her definition. Tomorrow, she will be ashamed to bring her “educated” husband to my small house. Her child will not talk with me and I will become even more miserable.

I know my truth very, very well. I am a woman, a mother who has been abandoned by her husband and I have no social security. This is my truth. I have made peace with my truth.

If I try to overpower my truth through action, I will bring misery on myself. I am very happy in my small house, with my daughter. Do not disturb our small world.

This woman has made peace with her truth. She knows her limitations. She is aware of her circumstances (situational truth). She has no choice. Her primary motive in life is not achieving education for her daughter or earning money, she has achieved fulfillment living in a small world. She has achieved the most difficult thing living in a condition that is miserable by our definition.

If suddenly she gets a choice of moving to a city and providing education to her daughter, one cannot guarantee that she will become happier. She might lead a better life full of luxury but there is no guarantee that she will be happier. She might become miserable in her own family, being hated for who she is just because her daughter and son in law are educated.

If you have enough choices in life, you keep the doors of misery open. The moment choices are gone, you have no other option that to make peace with yourself. This is the acceptance of truth which the subject identifies and accepts without any ego.

Money can give you happiness. At the same time, money can make your life miserable.

  • Don’t we know the misery of millionaires who spend their entire life chasing money they don’t need?
  • Don’t we know the misery of white collar people, who kill themselves everyday through jealously and hatred?
  • Aren’t we aware of the terrible trauma people go through, just because they lost some of their wealth in business?
  • Is the misery of “established” people hidden from this world? Don’t they suffer humiliation, insult, treachery and stress, in their quest to “Having more”?

Key thing is fulfillment, not the abundance or lack of money.

  • If you are living a fulfilled life without money, then so be it. Make peace with yourself. Live a fulfilled life, don’t chase money or success or fame.
  • If you are not living a fulfilled life without money, then go chase it. See if it gives you fulfillment. If not, you can always return to your truth and embrace it with both hands.
  • If you are living a fulfilled life with money, then so be it. Earn. Earn more. Because that is giving you fulfillment. Keep chasing it because it is giving you fulfillment, the volume of money doesn’t matter.
  • If you are not living a fulfilled life with money, then let it go. Give up. Identify what gives you fulfillment. Let go of the pile you have accumulated all these years.

The ultimate truth is self actualization and fulfillment, which one can receive with money or without money. Money is just a technology, how one uses it to achieve fulfillment is up-to the subject.

Do not blame the abundance of money or lack of money for your happiness. Money is just a tool, happiness or fulfillment is not a function of any tool whatsoever.

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