Understanding Money, Riches and Happiness

Money is basically an idea. It is something invented by people as a means of exchanging goods and services of value in a convenient way. Originally, physical items where exchanged in order to achieve a transaction. In other words, people bartered goods and services with each other as their way of doing business. For example, one farmer may have exchanged one of his pigs for 10 bags of another farmer’s wheat.

Since it was cumbersome, inefficient and inconvenient to always physically exchange items in this way, a simpler means of exchange was invented.

Before the advent of banknotes and coins, all sorts of things have been used as money at different times and places such as: amber, beads, cowries, drums, eggs, feathers, gold, gongs, hoes, ivory, jade, kettles, leather, mats, nails, oxen, pigs, quartz, rice, salt, thimbles, vodka and yarns.

From these physical forms of money, we now find ourselves moving more and more towards intangible forms of money, namely electronic money.

Credit cards, as we know them, were invented in the early 50’s, shortly after World War 2. Today everyone accepts credit cards and electronic transfers as real, and the numbers printed on monthly statements from our banks and stockbrokers can make us happy or concerned.

Nowadays we could define money as: anything that is widely used for making payments and accounting for debts and credits.

What we need to realise is that throughout history the things we have valued have changed. At one time, we valued animals, like cows, pigs or sheep. For centuries, horses were highly valued for their mobility, their working value and as a source of military power. During the agricultural age, productive land was valuable because it could be used to grow crops. For many people today, land is still a valuable commodity. People pay a premium for waterfront land, for water or mountain views, for their privacy and a place to have a special garden. For others, land does not have a strong attraction and they live in apartments or condominiums.

It’s important to understand that the little pieces of paper with pictures and numbers on them that we call money today, have no more inherent value than the salt, cowrie shells or beads of yesteryear.

The key to making money is to understand that the notes and coins that we call money today, really represent human effort and wealth. We can exchange these pieces of paper and coins for goods and services only while we agree that those notes and coins represent value.

The price of any object or service is only what two people – a willing buyer and a willing seller – are prepared to agree it is worth. I might decide that an old car is nothing more than a worthless piece of junk, but the seller might see it as a valuable vintage car, – a rare collector’s item. The value in this case is entirely and literally in the eye of the beholder. I may not be willing to pay anything for this old car since I do not appreciate its value. A vintage car collector on the other hand, may be willing to pay a considerable amount for the same object.

In your pursuit of wealth it is well to remember that the value of your assets changes according to what the market is willing to pay for them and how motivated you are to accept their offer at any point in time.

What does being rich mean to you?

Are you rich if you have more money than your friends? Your neighbours? Your parents?

Are you rich if you have more than a million dollars worth of net assets?

Would you be rich if you could go out and buy a brand new car without applying for finance or would it have to be a Ferarri?

Would you feel rich if you could just pay all your bills whenever they fall due?

Perhaps you wouldn’t consider yourself to be rich until you had enough money to buy whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted it.

As you can see, being ‘rich’ can – and does – mean very different things to different people.

Even though most people want to have more money, it is important to understand that leading a rich and happy life is not simply about making more money. Many people mistakenly tell me: “if I had more money, I’d be happy.”

There are many aspects of life that are more important than money in my opinion. These are also some of the things that money can’t buy for you. A loving partner for example, a loving and supportive family, friends you can trust and count on, work you love, health and wellbeing are just a few. Even though money is something you can use to buy some of the things which give you pleasure and to get things done, it is these things that money can’t buy which give your life fulfilment and greater pleasure.

Happiness is largely based on non-material things such as your health, your attitude to life, your feeling of self-worth, your spiritual beliefs, your relationships and your core values and beliefs.

There is a big difference between being rich and being happy and the difference is this:
• Being rich is getting what you want
• Being happy is wanting what you’ve got

If you think accumulating lots of money will bring you happiness, think again. Money cannot buy happiness. If you are rich in possessions but poor emotionally and spiritually, you are a bankrupt soul. Happiness comes from within, not from external sources.

You can be rich and happy by striving for balance in all aspects of your life, material and emotional.

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