While most of us understand and would say we live by the truth that “money isn’t everything,” the way we live often gives a very different message; for instance, the economy: we complain about it, blame our financial situation on it, and place our faith in a particularly political candidate based on his or her views on remedying it. Money is tied to our freedom to do what we want and acquire the possessions and services we want, and therefore it is often sadly mistaken for the #1 factor contributing to personal happiness. Here are a few reasons why money is so important and yet not paramount, and what it looks like to have a healthy appreciation for its role in our lives.
Money is a valuable tool that can be used wisely in the right hands. Money is important in that it can be very powerful depending on who is using it and how effectively. Those who have learned the skills of good money management will benefit from its rewards – financial freedom, the betterment of society, the accomplishment of personal goals, and a legacy for their children in both material wealth and the knowledge of how to use it.
Money can become a dangerous weapon, fuel for addiction and excess, an obsession, and a road block to reaching a person’s greatest potential. Just as money can be used to accomplish great things if a person practices responsibility and uses wealth as a tool to better themselves and others, it can be wasted, used to fuel addictions, and be the ultimate downfall if used without discretion. Money in itself is not bad, but it becomes what we make it.
Even if used wisely, money should not be the focus of our lives. If money becomes more important than family, helping others, our faith, and other important (inanimate) values, we’re no better off than people who squander it or use it for selfish or evil purposes. Money is not the end goal; it is the means to our goals of success and happiness.
Just because money can be dangerous doesn’t mean we should be afraid of acquiring it and using it the way it’s intended. Because material wealth carries with it so much responsibility, danger of misuses and other pitfalls, it’s tempting to consider the option of living in a cave and having nothing to do with it at all. Of course, this is a comical example, but there are people who are afraid of wealth for these reasons. Avoiding the pitfalls of handling money can be tricky and is not a perfect science; nevertheless, it is something we should practice. By the process if listening to the sound advice of others who have healthy views of money and have demonstrated the successful use of it as a tool, and the personal trial and error of it played out in our own lives, we can learn to have a healthy respect for money’s role in our lives.
Money is not the key to a happy life. Many people blame the economy, their career status, and their bank account on their unhappiness. A quick look at third world countries and the status quo of the average person outside the Western Hemisphere is a great reality check on the meaning of wealth and its importance to happiness. Many people who live on less in a month than we do in a day experience much more fulfilling and contented lives. If money is the reason you’re unhappy, take a good look at what you already have and reconsider your perspective.