A rambling, stream of consciousness on my thoughts about money as of the date of this post. My feelings and ideas about money often change, but here's where I'm at today. Hopefully it can help some of you cope with any money anxieties you're grappling with.
You are not your bank balance.
I promise. You aren't even your thoughts, but that's all together another wormhole.
I meet a lot of people who have believe that their value in the world is commiserate with their bank balance. It's don't think it's a phenomenon with the sample size of people I cross paths with. There are examples of very rich people can feeling entitled because of their wealth and poor people feeling like the world doesn't value them. We equate our worth and value with our spending power.
Money is a tool.
It's a resource. It's can be used by terrible people to do terrible things and vice versa.
Money has measurable value. It's easy to measure. So easy often becomes the default.
It's convenient to use money to measure our value. Being nice to someone does not have a nice measurable unit. How can we value a good friend? How can we value the feeling your dog makes you feel when you come home from work? These things are truly invaluable - a vague non measurement that demonstrates my point.
Our fascination with individual success and personal responsibility helps us have a weird relationship with money.
Post-modern (are we in the post-modern era now?) Western society puts a lot of emphasis on work and success. Standard measures of success are money, power and influence. We emphasize the individual's personal responsibility for what one can achieve (never mind the institutionally disadvantaged). Once someone has achieved great success, that's a huge part of their story. Who they are are all of their aggregated efforts.
The multibillion dollar personal development industry emphasizes personal responsibility. You have a choice in every situation. You can harness your true potential to manifest giant piles of cash. Corporate executives practice meditation and mindfulness to maximize shareholder profits.
The industrial revolution and the invention of marketing has also helped us get real weird with money.
The American industrial revolution created a new world of consumption. Our society became more efficient at making products. With so many products, we needed to figure out how convince people to buy more products than they needed. Marketing was invented to create endlessly unhappy consumers who need to constantly consume to try to feel happy.
Without money, the modern world as we know it will crumble. Without money you won't be able to participate in a lot of what the modern world has to offer. I wouldn't be sitting here on an amazing computing machine that sits on my lap if the world economy didn't exist. There are incredible advances in medicine, technology and art that wouldn't have happened without our economic system. And there are disasters that have done irreparable damage to our planet in pursuit of money.