Money Is the Root of All Awesome
"Money is the root of all evil." Yes, it's a cliché because people will do horrible things over money: lie, cheat, steal, fight, and even kill. It's also the source of much jealousy in this world: some people have it; some people don't; some people resent that others have more than they do (regardless of how much they have). But most anger, jealousy, resentment, and hatred about money is a misunderstanding of what it represents, how it works, and what you can do or how you can act differently as a result of this new view of money.
Money is a currency, which is effectively two things: a medium of exchange and a store of value. As a medium of exchange, it allows multiple people who want different goods or services provided by the others to be able to have some way of trading without straight bartering. For example, if one person grows corn, another tailors suits, and a third person provides therapy, the tailor can get therapy, the farmer can get a suit, and the therapist can get corn without having to figure out convoluted calculations such as how much corn equals a suit and what else to trade for if the tailor only wants a few ears of corn and so is not willing to trade a whole suit for it. As a store of value, it allows someone who doesn't need any products or services today to be able to provide his or her services today in exchange for something that will have roughly the same value to others in the future when he or she does need something. Together, the farmer can sell a few ears of corn to the tailor and therapist; the the tailor can sell a suit to the farmer; and the tailor can save the money from the sale of the suit for when he or she actually needs therapy.
But that's not all! Now that there is a medium of exchange and a store of value available, people can do two things: specialize in the work that they are best at and work during set times. Without a means to trade at all, everyone would have to do everything themselves or as communal groups, which reduces productivity (since every person has things that they're better at than others) and might breed issues with peers you work with as to who's contributing more (while that never goes away, it's reduced with trade and currency). Without money as a means of trade, it's hard to calculate contribution/value precisely and people get ripped off more frequently. Without a store of value, people would have to do everything whenever they needed it or immediately fulfill any debt obligation through work, which doesn't work well if you're injured, sick, or vacationing.
The most important part of all of the above is the point I snuck in there about what money represents: it represents value delivered to others. Effectively, it's an "I owe you" credit system. If you have money, it means you delivered value to someone else and deserve value to be delivered to you in return. If you are in debt, it means that you have delivered less value to others than you have received from them. Yes, I know that people can complain all day about how hard they work, that they don't get paid enough, and that other things cost too much (aka that others are greedy), but remember that rent represents someone else letting you stay on property that they own and take care of and that food, clothing, and other goods required others' labor to get as well. So the person who believes that they "deserve" or are "entitled" to someone else's labor without reciprocation is the greedy one (barring the chronically sick, injured/disabled, or otherwise unable to contribute).
So here are the many reasons why this proper view of money—that it is awesome because it shows the value you deliver to others and is used to make your life much, much better than it would be otherwise—will make your life much, much better:
- It gives you a clear plan to make more money ethically. – If you know that money is simply proof that you deliver value to others, then all you have to do is find a way to contribute more or deliver more value to make more. In a free-market system with competition, if your existing work has more value, then someone else in your industry will pay you more for the same job and you can leave (or bargain with your employer). If it doesn't, then you can find a related role that has more value and develop a plan to transition to that. Finally, you can always become an entrepreneur where you offer a product or service to others that you believe will be valuable to them and, therefore, make you a lot of money. No theft, no cheating...just both sides being happy that the other exists.
- It relieves you of resentment. – There is literally nothing more useless than being upset about something that is uncontrollable by you and irrelevant to you. So to be mad that someone else has money is one of the worst things to do...at best, all it does is make you miserable; at worst, it makes you want to harm people who have money as some sort of "payback" via taxes or cheating them in some way (e.g., pirating, shoplifting), which only prevents them from hiring more people, investing in new products, and growing their business to deliver more value. Without this, you can be more satisfied with your life; you can always return to bullet point one if you're not happy with your income.
- It allows you to feel better spending money. – Yes, people wish that their money could go further, but they also often complain about how other people are ripping them off all the time. The truth is that if you feel that way, you are basically saying that your work is worth more and everyone else's is worth less. So what you think is innocent complaining is actually showing that you think you're better than everyone else. Instead, either be happy to pay money if a product or service is worth it to you, or don't buy the product or service. The beauty of consumer sovereignty is that you can choose what you spend money on. You don't have to see that movie you think is stupid; you don't have to buy that shirt that you think is overpriced. When you pay, you are saying, "This has value to me, and I thank you for your effort in providing me with it and have provided equivalent value to others to earn/deserve this item." What a fantastic attitude to have.
- It can make you more generous and allow you to help more people. – Similar to the previous item, there are people who have been the victims of natural disasters or deadly diseases (among other problems) that really do need help and are asking for it vs. taking it. Instead of having to drop everything in your life and drive down to the disaster zone, you can give money to people who are most qualified to help. With this method, you can donate to dozens of causes and help many, many people with just the click of a button. (side note: okay, it's very hard for me to hold back from writing, "Money is awesome," after each of these, so I'll say it once here where it seems most virtuous: MONEY IS FRIGGIN' AWESOME!)
- It allows you to have more fun. – People work different hours. In the past, people who host parties had to put in a lot of work, and sometimes everyone had to chip in. With money, now you can just take off on a vacation and be completely pampered for a week with your best friends or family with everything being completely taken care of by complete strangers who otherwise would laugh in your face if you asked them, "Yeah, so can I just stay in your quarters and relax on your property for a week being completely taken care of? I know you don't know me, but I've done a lot for other people where I'm from...so trust me this'll come back to you." No, you give the money, are treated well, and then you go back to where you live and get back to work for the next awesome thing you want to do.
- It signals what people want and need. – If money represents value delivered to others, then prices indicate how valuable something is. If a product or service is in demand, the price for it goes up. That way, only the people who really want or need that thing are willing to pay the premium for it. Therefore, goods and services go where they're needed most. One just needs to look at crazy toilet paper shortages when prices don't rise to see what happens if prices do not go up when something is in high demand: people who don't need things overbuy and deprive others from having them. Again, it's not the "price gougers" being jerks but the people who can and will overbuy when prices stay flat. Since this one is hard to take, the other method, rationing, is more common in emergency situations to reduce the perception of exploitation. However, bad perception in certain situations aside, higher prices make sure that the people who want and need something the most get it.
- Many cool things are only possible with money. – We already discussed the convoluted process that would have to be involved for multiple people to be able to provide services to each other in a fair enough way that would allow them to all conduct the transactions, but there's also the crazy combinations of everyone's effort that could only be done with money. Space shuttle missions (and before you point to NASA as an exception, remember that they took money via taxes). Crazy, epic parties on remote islands (yes, Fyre Festival could've been amazing if the leader wasn't a con artist). Complex machines requiring parts that are manufactured in hundreds of different locations. Without money, it would either be impossible otherwise or so expensive that no one would be able to afford it.
- It gives you freedom and influence. – You can control your life and live on your terms with money. Without it, you'd have to be at the mercy of your own biology, social connections, and a variety of other factors. With it, you can do what you do best and pay for everything you can't do or don't want/like to do. As for influence, you can make things happen that you and only you want. If you want a unique painting, you can commission one. If you want others to act out a play that you've written, you can pay them to do it for you. If you want someone to literally or figuratively take care of your $h!t for you, you can do that. Again, it would be difficult if not impossible to have certain things done for you otherwise.
- It brings a sense of accomplishment. – When you think of money as value delivered to others, you feel great when you earn it and great when you have a lot of it. No longer do you have to feel guilty about earning a lot of money—as long as you earned it ethically, you deserve it and deserve whatever it is you can and will get with it. You now don't have to feel in debt to others and don't have to feel guilty with those false beliefs that others try to push onto you that somehow you don't deserve what you have or what you spend your money on. As we said above, people are free to spend their money how they wish and free to earn their money in whatever way that people are willing to pay for (as long as it's legal and ethical). Therefore, you can stop fearing success, which holds so many people back in life.
There are probably many more reasons, but I've run out of ones that came off the top of my head and so am stopping here. But the big question is, why is a blog on the meaning of life writing about how great money is? Well, hopefully if you've read The Meaning of Life or can read into the themes behind how great money is, you can see what this has to do with life.
To feel meaning and value, you have to believe that it is. Your life, therefore, can have a lot of meaning and value if you can show that you earned a lot of money delivering value to other people (note: you don't have to keep the money; you can give it all to charity if you want and still have the satisfaction that you delivered a lot of value with the work you did and then gave away what you earned from said work—that's a boss move). You have to have the freedom of choice to feel that your life has meaning, and money gives you more freedom. You have to grow to feel meaning, and you can either grow your finances or use your finances for other growth areas—either way, it gets you growth (and I'm not even counting the growth-enabling output of your labor in this calculation!). You have to have support, and money allows you to give and receive support to/from others much, much more easily.
I could go on and on. But money is a wonderful part of life because it helps you accomplish more, be more helpful to others, have more freedom, grow more, recover from setbacks more easily, and be more fair and ethical. It really is the source of so much awesomeness. Yes, it's not literally the "source of all awesome" (just like it's not the "root of all evil"), but it is pretty damn awesome. And your life will be much more awesome if you have a more positive attitude about the value you provide to others and the value that they provide to you. The best way to do that is to have a more positive attitude about money, and hopefully this post will give you the reframe you need to enjoy the fact that you have to earn and spend money to live your best life! It's not a bad thing!