Lesson 77: Money is important

Published 3:26 pm Thursday, June 10, 2010

Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.

Albert Einstein

You cant buy happiness, but you can rent financial securityand financial security can relieve a lot of stress.

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Lets put money into perspective for a moment. You need it to pay the bills, put gas in your car and food on the table. Money also gives you choices.

With enough money, you can choose how to spend your time: Stay at home with your loved ones. Lie on a beach. Hike the Appalachian Trail. Volunteer for religious or community causes. Play golf. Climb Mount Everest. Write a book. Without the dough to make those choices, youre limited.

But it is also possible to be poor and happy at the same time. And many people of means are miserable despite their wealth.

Theres a reason for this phenomenon, and it involves the importance that we assign to money. For some people, money is the most important thing in their lives. They become obsessed with living an affluent lifestyle. They must have the fanciest car, the biggest house in the most exclusive neighborhood, and all the other trappings of wealth. The pursuit and preservation of wealth becomes the central objective of their lives.

Have you ever known a teacher who was great at what she did and was clearly a happy person? Of course you have. The teaching profession is not known for its high salaries; in most states, its hard to make a lot of money as a teacher. But you can make enough, and many teachers give up the opportunity to earn more money elsewhere because they love children and derive personal satisfaction from making a difference in the lives of kids. The same is true of countless men and women

in many other vocations as well.

In fact, I have known several good and genuinely happy people who are quite poor. They work at menial jobs and struggle just to make ends meet every month, but they are content and seemingly carefree.

The bottom line here is that while money is a necessity, its not a cure for unhappiness. Still, all things being equal, Id rather be rich than poor, and I suspect you would, too.