(This is final post of a III part series. Part I questions if Money Buy Happiness and Part II examines If Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness, Then What Does?)

I grew up thinking it is wrong to want money. Perhaps this says something about my Southern Methodist heritage and knowledge of Biblical references which suggest the love money is the root of all kinds of evil.

It wasn’t until recently that a friend in my mastermind group suggested otherwise. In fact, she posed the question:

Why are we made to believe that wanting money is bad?

Her rationale was simple: Why shouldn’t we want to have the things we need? Why wouldn’t we want to give our children and spouses the best life possible? And what is so heroic about deprivation?

Not to mention, living without money can be unhealthy. In addition to foreclosures, a poor economy and long-term unemployment can cause widespread emotional and psychological damage. According to Business Insider, about 9 percent of Americans were defined as clinically depressed last year. In addition, money and money fights can be a major cause of divorce and arguments.

Do bad things with it

Apparently, the Bible isn’t the only source which questions our love for money. After all, the Apprentice theme song suggests, “Some people do bad, bad things with it.” Look at an excerpt from the famous O’Jays song:

“For the love of money
People will steal from their mother
For the love of money
People will rob their own brother
For the love of money
People can’t even walk the street
Because they never know
Who in the world they’re gonna beat
For that lean, mean, mean green
Almighty dollar, money

For the love of money
People will lie, Lord, they will cheat
For the love of money
People don’t care who they hurt or beat
For the love of money

A woman will sell her precious body
For a small piece of paper
It carries a lot of weight
Call it lean, mean, mean green

Almighty dollar”

The Dalai Lama might actually second these lyrics, but in a much more poetic and profound way. When asked what surprised him most about humanity, he answered:

“Man.
Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.
And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present;
the result being that he does not live in the present or the future;
he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

From good to bad

So how does money grow from a desire to an obsession? From something we want to something we love? When does it change from good to evil? From moderation to greed? From kindness to meanness?

I wish I had the answer but I do not. I know wealthy people who are the salt of the earth, and wealthy people who are snobs. I know wealthy people who give much of themselves and their time to others, and wealthy people who keep it all for themselves.

I grew up as a child without a lot of money, raised on a single parent’s schoolteacher salary. My own career has had its booms and crashes, from a money making perspective at least. During its most lucrative times, my tendency is to invest, not to spend. My two biggest splurges in life have been my Whistler condo and kitchen renovation, both of which I previously mentioned as sources of happiness in my life.

Selfish? Maybe. But I don’t think these purchases were greedy and turned me into an evil person.

How much is too much?

I don’t think there’s a magic bullet on the ride from discomfort to comfort to too much. If I put money on the Y axis and time on the X axis, I don’t think there’s a dollar amount that represents an ‘evil’ intersection for everyone. We’re all unique people with different life experiences, so everyone’s perspective evolves accordingly.

So as I continue to contemplate the issue, I’ll wish for everyone to have more and share more, so that happiness and wealth can be enjoyed by all.

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