Let me begin with a question. How much money is 'good enough' to leave peacefully? I realize it is an open-ended question with no possible consensus reply. But what I am trying to ask is, do we all really believe that money is merely a way of securing a peaceful life? If yes, then should we not also know how much is enough? On the other hand, if money is not the mean but the target itself, what's the target amount you are trying to reach? Is there a quantifiable answer to it?
I am fortunate enough to be at a stage of life where survival is not my main target. This is the case with a lot of people I know - my friends, my cousins, my seniors, etc. Lot of us earn substantially higher than our basic needs. Most of us also earn much above even our luzury needs that we enjoy. Most of us earn enough to take our families out for a movie or dinner few times a month. We earn enough to enjoy a couple of vacations in a year to a far-away place, away from the routine. Sure, we need money to do all this and more. Point is, many of us are earning much more than what you need to do all this. Day in and day out we are slogging out in our lives to get that higher increment or a super bonus that marginally/incrementally goes into our savings and not towards luxury spending. Saving for an uncertain future perhaps. Despite all this, I strongly feel a lot of us are giving way too much importance to money and financial safety, thinking about not just the next year or two but even 10 years and 20 years down the line. If this is how it goes, money will hypnotize us and leave us drained and dead even before we are actually dead.
I have two points to add further. First is the happiness quotient. If the money-making efforts are making you truly blissful, then half the problem is taken care of. You are not killing yourself internally for a secure future. However, is this not a rarity? Lot of us crib about not having enough time and mind-space to live for ourselves. The attempt to get 'work-life balance' has caught up in a big way among corporate executives. Clearly so, there seems to be an unhappy inner self even as the outer self is busy chasing the money targets. That, to my mind, is a problem one must address. If more money does not make you more happy on a daily basis (and not at a future unknown point in time), then we ought to change few things around.
Now, let's assume one is indeed blissful in doing things that consequently results in money being created. Case in point would be a sportsman, an actor, a painter, a musician or a CA for that matter who loves what she does. Even then, I have an inkling that there is something not-so-right. That's my second pointer. I cannot see a lot of sense in a situation where someone tries to achieve a separate room for each member of his family (by purchasing a 3BHK flat, for instance) at a time when some of them around in this world cannot afford a single small room for 10 of them put together. I am not intending to sound 'socialistic' here. Question that disturbs me is, do the money making people not think about the relatively under-privileged soceity? I am not taking anything away from people who make money. Surely they are extremly skilled and work hard to earn whatever they do. But, do they not believe that once they reach that point of security, they can then try to help somebody else around to get to security as well? Like as if we are one big family in this world and we seek & help each other out? Can we not do that more often than not? Can there be no collective efforts towards that? Or do we remain self-centered as always? Do we simply add more luxuries to our own wealth & lives, and may be end up not even enjoying them. By upgrading from a 21-inch TV to a super big Plasma, when life is so reckless & fast that we spend only a few hours in front of the TV. If that's the case, wasn't the decision to upgrade the TV just a symbolic gesture to tell the society around that you are a wealthy person and ought to be respected? TV is just an example, we could be spending our money in a lot of other ways.
I read this somewhere recently (I think it was Sri Sri Ravishankar who said this) that our education system needs to be modified to include two more things in it right from grass-root levels: a little bit about Philospohy and a little bit about Philanthropy. I totally agree. This will add a sense of perspective in our lives and see things in a different manner. We will be more compassionate and less wasteful in our attitudes.
I have asked myself how much money is 'secure' enough for my family. Working to reach that number and then trying to spread out for others is what my motto is. If you think this way of living makes sense, then ask yourself how much money is 'secure' enough for your family and their needs. Then work hard to reach a level where even 'ancilliary' works (read part-time) that does not consume all of your time will help you earn that bit. Rest of the time can be used to make this whole world a much better place. This is where education helps. A professional degree like MBBS or CA must be used to make our lives less complicated and easier. Unfortunately, we use these degrees to challenge ourselves to earn some obscenely high amount of money and screw up our own happiness in the process.
I began with a question. Let me end with a beautifully worded line that I read as the status message of one of my friends and is apt here. A perfection of means & confusion of aims seems to be our main problem.