No one can deny the important role money plays in our lives. It puts a roofs over our heads, food on our tables, and—if we’re lucky—a few dollars, here and there, to put away for that proverbial “rainy day.” In fact, we don’t really know how crucial it is until we find ourselves without it.
For almost 50 years, I’ve found myself teetering back and forth on the financial security spectrum. From desperately searching couches for change to buy ramen noodles to investing in the stock market, I’ve done it all. As a result, I like to think I’ve managed to learn a thing or two along the way.
Obviously, such inconsistency in financial solvency can cause a great deal of anxiety around one’s senses of safety and security. Feeling this way is never appealing, so taking necessary steps to avoid living in such fear seems only natural. Being no stranger to this sort of logic, the career decisions I have made have followed suit. Dubiously so, in fact.
My main goal has always been to have enough. “Enough” never really quite seemed to be enough, however. Like many folks, I find that the more I have the more complicated my life becomes. True, making more can create a more comfortable life for ourselves, but it also opens other doors. Opportunity is great, but it often invites other things into our lives, such as more responsibility, stress, and less time. Ironically, we may find ourselves right back where we were before. Sometimes, we’re even worse off. We may have a few more dollars in the bank, but that nagging sense of “lack” still remains.
Many may interpret this absence of fulfillment as symptomatic of needing more, materially. I know I have. If you think about it, current paradigms around the concept of prosperity endorse this type of thinking. Having more is tantamount to being successful. Having something (or things) to show for all your hard work is important, even necessary. While not opposed to buying myself a little “happy” for myself every now and then, I feel the answer lies elsewhere.
It dawned on me a couple years ago that making a higher income and having tangible proof of my success was not the “end all, be all “ of my existence. Going for (and getting) promotions and thrusting myself into higher income tax brackets still left a palpable void in my life that I couldn’t ignore. Ultimately, I realized that my approach to life was built upon goals that increased gains in my professional life but at the expense of my personal one. A lack of funds wasn’t the source of my angst, it was a lack of feeling thoroughly fulfilled. No amount of cash could fill that void.
A good deal of my own personal fulfillment lies in pursuing a career as a writer, a fact that is clearly evident in my previous posts. This is not about that, however. Sometimes, being fulfilled is about making the most of what you currently have, what you’ve already realized.
More often than not, the completeness we seek is embedded in the lives we have already created: we’ve just been focusing on other priorities. This hardly means that money isn’t important. It is, though not for the reasons we may typically think. What if money isn’t, actually, the true measure of how prosperous we are but a tool to get us there? What if prosperity is actually about having a rich life and being successful in our relationships, as well as work? Maybe, having more is about using the resources we have to build better lives for ourselves and others.
I have sought prosperity for what seems to be all my adult life. Frankly, I went about it the wrong way for most of that time. Having more meant doing more, which took me away from the people and things (mainly my six fur-babies) that I valued more than anything. Now that I am older I realize that being prosperous shouldn’t have to come at a cost. Sometimes, having more means giving more and letting go of the material for the sake of things are truly important like family, friends, charity, and puppies.
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