“Some people are so poor, all they have is money.” ~ Patrick Meagher
The best things in life aren’t things. Some people have plenty of money, but they don’t have the simple things in life that make life enjoyable.
If all you have is money and no love, no friendship, no adventure, and no purpose, then you are dirt poor. Without these, it can be argued that you are only half-alive. Without these, a life well-lived will elude you, no matter how much money you have in the bank.
One could argue that all you would have to do is buy friendship, or love, or adventure, or purpose. But you would still be lacking one crucial ingredient to making these equations work well: authenticity.
Without authenticity, friendship isn’t friendship at all; it’s mere acquaintance. Similarly, without authenticity, love isn’t love at all; it’s merely lust or a passing fling. Without authenticity, adventure isn’t adventure; it’s mere tourism. Without authenticity, purpose isn’t meaningful at all; it’s merely a vacuous stopgap.
One cannot purchase authenticity. One can only act authentically. Authenticity is fuel for a meaningful life. Having money might help, sure. But money is only ever a tool. It’s your responsibility to use that tool wisely. Here are four things that will always be greater than money…
Friendship > Money
“He who cannot howl, will not find his pack.” ~ Charles Simic
Find like-minded people. Seek out true interdependent friendships that trump the independent ownerships (disguised as friendships) that we all grew up with.
You don’t need money for this. Call an old friend. Go to a bookstore and wax philosophic over a cup of Joe. Or go to a bar and wax misanthropic over some beers. Meet new people. Go to your local Farmer’s Market and mingle. Go to the beach with your old friends and meet new friends.
We’re social creatures above all. We need each other almost as much as we need oxygen, water, and food. Frame your life with wholesome living. Surround yourself with compatible people. But also don’t be afraid to stretch your comfort zone cross-culturally and embrace those who think differently than you. Don’t be afraid to dance with the unorthodox. You may discover that the orthodoxy inside you has grown uncouth through the passage of time.
Above all, surround yourself with healthy-minded, reasonable, and loving people. Be healthy-minded, reasonable, and loving for them. Then hope, but do not expect, others to do the same. Courageously open your mind. Learn what they have to teach. Teach them what you have learned. Practice forgiveness.
Love > Money
“Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won’t adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question. The words “make” and “stay” become inappropriate. My love for you has no strings attached. I love you for free.” ~ Tom Robbins
Whether it’s a romantic love that takes your breath away or simply being Love, in love with the interconnectedness of all things, love cannot be bought and paid for. You can spend money on those you love, you can splurge on a trip and fall in love with a far-away paradise, but true love is priceless. True love burns despite how much money you have in the bank.
Almost everyone will agree that we’re never richer than when we’re in love. We’re never wealthier or more well-to-do than when we are flush with the affluence of deep love. It’s a richness that the riches of money and gold simply cannot touch.
That’s not to say that we do not live in a world that revolves around money. It’s not to say that money doesn’t make things easier. But perhaps it is because money makes things easier, and because the perception of wealth can skew people’s perception of reality, that money may get in the way of love. As such, love should always be perceived as being greater than money lest we miss out on something priceless.
Adventure > Money
“I prefer a short life with width to a narrow life with length.” ~ Avicenna
Life is too short to waste it grinding away at a job you hate or a in a lifestyle that depletes your soul. Don’t be an inglorious cog in the unsustainable clockwork of our times. Instead, find wholesome work with wholesome people that has the potential to fulfill you and make your heart sing. As Maya Mendoza said, “No amount of security is worth the suffering of a mediocre life chained to a routine that has killed your dreams.”
So, stop hitting snooze on the alarm clock of your life. Wake up to higher consciousness. Quit your thankless job and find work that feeds your soul even if it doesn’t pad your wallet. Be a strategic risk-taker and sacrifice a little comfort, security, and familiarity. Embrace a little discomfort, insecurity, and other-worldliness.
Adventure is only a stone’s throw away. The nearest mountain, desert, or beach is right now transmitting a call to adventure. The call of the wild is howling at the edge of your comfort zone. You have only to earn the ears with which to hear it. You earn it by being authentic with your need for adventure. You gain an adventurous spirit by practicing leaps of courage.
Purpose > Money
“There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.” ~ Rumi
One powerful way to hear the “voice that doesn’t use words” is through solitude and meditation. The wisdom gained from such sacred knowledge is priceless. It has the potential to lead to a deeper purpose that we didn’t even know was there. Money simply cannot buy this kind of experience.
Another way is being mindful of what we are deeply curious about. If, as Stephen Kotler said, “passion exists at the intersection of three or more things you’re really curious about,” then it stands to reason that whatever that curious intersection may be is your purpose.
Just ask yourself: where do the things that I’m curious about intersect? And then make that your purpose. Be proactive. Build your life around it. Spend your money on it. Make it your Immortality Project.
Once you’ve found your purpose despite money, you can begin using money as a healthy tool toward leveraging more purpose into your life. Making money becomes a reason to bolster more friendship, love, adventure and purpose by spending it on experiences rather than on material things.
But it’s all too easy in our culture to put the cart of money before the horse of purpose. And so we tend to flounder. And so we tend to lose out on friendship, love, adventure and, ultimately, on purpose. Then we wonder why we feel empty inside even though we have so many things, things, things.
So as not to flounder, so as not to miss out on these things that will always be greater than money, we should remember that money is simply a tool that we use to reinforce the things that money cannot buy. This way we’ll never have to worry about becoming someone who is so poor, all we have is money.