Money holds no inherent moral value; its significance is heavily influenced by our individual perceptions and associations with it. Many people mistakenly tie their self-worth to their net worth, yet the lack of money can significantly hinder one’s capacity to progress toward your desired self. Without financial resources, time becomes consumed by the relentless pursuit of it.
In a recent post* Lawrence Yeo provides a wonderful perspective on the things that money can do and not do for your life.
We all want to have the freedom to spend our limited time the way we want to and to pursue our desires on our own terms. Freedom is one of those virtues that money can buy. In fact, it’s the greatest thing that money can purchase, as the ability to choose what problems to solve is enabled by having control over your attention.
Ultimately, money affords you with the ability to close the doors you don’t want opened, and to open the doors that were once closed.
Money is a resource, but it does not result in personal fulfilment. You need to take a holistic view of what it means to live a well-lived life.
Yeo draws attention to and delves into the four primary forces steering every individual’s life: Health, Freedom, Purpose, and Love. He posits that these desires are not binary but are like levers on a dashboard, indicating overall satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
These levers never rest solely at either extreme; some remain at the midpoint, while others fluctuate, embodying life’s perpetual realities. Various experiences and factors contribute to their positions, and money is one tool sought to elevate them. The all-consuming attention granted to money stems from the belief that it possesses the power to elevate all these levers simultaneously.
However, the harsh truth surfaces: Money can only pull up some of the levers on this dashboard. For the areas in which it can, the pursuit of it holds importance. But for the areas in which it can’t, it must be disregarded as a solution.
Thankfully, our life’s dashboard conveniently segments into two sections: Money-Receptive or Money-Negligent.
Health: You cannot buy your way into a stronger body, but money provide the resources that is an enabler. You can join a gym, hire a trainer, and improve your diet. But if you don’t add personal commitment and discipline, it’s the same as multiplying a big number with zero. With health money can act as fuel on your journey, but it is not the driving force.
Freedom: Self-autonomy is your personal ability to do what you want, whenever you want, with whom you want. In essence, it’s freedom over your attention, and the ways in which you want to allocate it. If you have enough money, you don’t need to direct your focus to obtaining more of it. This is one of the areas in which money can push this lever in a favourable direction.
Key to a good life?
Money is a pervasive force in our minds, but it is not the key to a good life – there is more to life than money. When it comes to answering “why” something is important to you – money cannot answer it.
Money cannot move the “Purpose” and “Love” levers for you. That’s because these are the levers that define the core of what makes life a beautiful experience, and nothing external and uniformly defined like money can shift them. In other words, these levers are uniquely moved by you, and how you move them are defined by the unique conditions in which you live your life.
Purpose: Money can help and free you up on your desired path, but it can never provide the reasons why your specific curiosities exist in the first place. We all have a latent potential we’re meant to fulfil, and our desire to fulfil it must come purely from within. The reason why purpose exists outside the bounds of money is because no one’s purpose on this earth is to make money. Deposits of millions do not fulfil potential. The purpose underlying the pursuit is driven by something internal. Money is merely a helpful variable in this pursuit. Some people mistake the pursuit of wealth for their purpose.
Love: Transcending all other levers, love remains paramount. Money cannot buy the depth and significance inherent in genuine connections. Love constitutes the essence of a meaningful existence, unparalleled by any financial gain. The greatest thing money can buy is freedom, but that pales in comparison to love, which is the greatest thing that nothing can buy.
If we can zoom out of any individual lever and take a holistic view of what makes us who we are, then we’ll see that money is just one character in the theatre of life. That it can influence the direction of many things we care about, but not the things we care about most.
What would make life worthwhile for you?
Original article curated and condensed by Marius Kilian
*Lawrence Yeo, moretothat.com/the-levers-that-money-cant-pull