I know what it’s like to not have money. I know what it’s like to be delivering papers at the end of a full day’s work, just to make ends meet.
I also know what it’s like to have enough cash that you can blow it on one weekend, spending it on worthless crap that you don’t need.
What I’m trying to say is, I’ve been what most folks would consider poor. And I’ve been what many folks would consider rich. Through it all, I’ve learned one rule about money, that always applies, and always will.
If you’re rich or you’re poor, you can’t let money be the central concern and driving force of your life. There has to be something more. Because money is a limiting and limited source of meaning. If it’s all you’re focused on, if it’s all you’re thinking about, getting more, having less, whatever way you think about it, it will actively strip the meaning from your life.
When money is your sole concern, when it becomes your soul’s concern, you’re on your way to emptiness. I know. I’ve been there. I’ve looked at a bank account with a whole lot of zeroes and felt nothing, and I’ve looked at a bank account that just read zero and felt nothing.
Money matters, don’t get me wrong. The haves and the have nots, and the gonna gets, these are the ways we look at ourselves, because of how important money really is.
But it’s not the most important thing.
Your kids, if you have them, are more important.
Your partner, your loved ones, your family.
The footprint that you’re leaving on the planet.
The legacy that every kind word can leave behind.
The hobbies and pastimes and moments that bring you joy.
The books you read, and the words you write and the things you say.
These all have more meaning than the pure accumulation of wealth. And they all have more meaning than the pain stemming from a lack of wealth. Because at the end of the day, they’re the only things that give purpose to chasing or having or gaining more wealth.
When I was poor and money was all that matters, nothing mattered. That’s when I couldn’t get out of bed. That’s when I couldn’t smile. That’s when I treated people like shit, because nothing but my bank account mattered. When I had money and it was the only thing that had any importance, I did the same thing.
If you’re rich or you’re poor, you can’t let money be the central concern and driving force of your life. You have to look at money as being a tool. Nothing more — nothing less.