“Cash rules everything around me.”
These lyrics from the Wu Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.” speak volumes to the way that society is, and has been for years. The fact about money is that it doesn’t need to rule everything in the world, especially not everything in everyday life.
Economics isn’t actually about money at all. Economics is about scarcity, the idea that we have limited resources to suit our unlimited human desires. The key word in that sentence is desired; the fact that as humans, we don’t really need that much, but we desire a lot.
Humans only truly need food, water, shelter and a sense of belonging and community, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. One thing absent from that list is money. Money isn’t really a fundamental human need, rather, it’s a tool used for making life easier, which, while nice, oftentimes ends up making life harder in the end.
As humans in America, our average life expectancy is roughly 79 years. Of those 79 years, the average American spends roughly 16 of them in school when counting time spent in university, and another 40 in the workforce trying to get money both to live off of, and to retire with. This leads to the conclusion that we spend over half of our lives wasting away, working to get money, rather than actually enjoying our lives.
We are so obsessed with money, that ultimately people make their lives harder in attempts to make it easier or better by getting money.
Money is the top cause of stress for Americans. This is a problem that we throw ourselves into blindly without realizing the reality of the situation. There is a base level of money that we as humans do need, enough to ensure that we have adequate food, water and shelter. Beyond that amount of money, we venture into the idea of living more and more lavishly.
It’s important that we maintain the idea of what we truly need and what we simply want. We spend so much time trying to get money that we lose track of the important things in life: actually enjoying life, creating meaningful relationships, creating memories. These meaningful pursuits are the actual important things in life, not working to get money.
Though, this isn’t to say that there isn’t pleasure to be had in working. Some people make it a goal in life to find work that they enjoy because they do realize that life, and everything in it, should be enjoyed. People find jobs and career paths that are enjoyable and meaningful to them for intrinsic happiness. At the end of the day, it’s about finding that enjoyment and pleasure that matters.
We live in a world where cash rules everything around us, where every day is about getting money or doing things that will allow us to get money. When your life becomes solely about money, that’s when it becomes a stressful mess, something that isn’t worth how bad it can be. To use a cliché, money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy stress.