Time is the currency of life, not money

In today’s world, if you’re lucky enough to achieve even basic financial security in your 60s then you’ve probably won in life. And, most likely, there is little difference in quality of life between you and, say, Jeff Bezos.

Or, so goes the recurring thread. It goes onto suggest that free-time, health, relationships, diet, exercise, and family then really become the yardstick you should use.

Financial security is, in this famous internet question that comes around every few years, is defined as “a coupla mill stashed away, mortgage-free house, and a nice car”.

Does this still stack-up? And are more of us reaching this lofty but maybe modest goal? And where does the increasingly distorted mirror of social media figure in this, if all?

Those familiar with Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” will no doubt recognise some of the themes: house, car, and money fills the lower two rungs (physiological and safety) whilst relationships and family the next layer (belonging and love). So, despite Maslow never actually creating his oft quoted pyramid, there seems to be some basis for this – at least at the lower levels.

So, really all we need to do is a) define the local requirements to meet the lower levels (they will be different in sub-Saharan Africa vs Singapore), and b) understand what constitutes the higher levels.

But, if “2-3 mill plus a paid-off house and nice car” only meets the lower levels then the original statement is false as there is so much more to life; esteem, accomplishments, learning, self-discovery, and enlightenment.

But this is where the argument gets nuanced. Maslow states that the motivation to achieve higher layers is not fully developed until the lower levels are met. So, does that mean individuals who have no interest in the higher levels are deficient in some lower levels? Or have too high expectations at the lower levels?

And where does the internet age/social media fit in? Ostensively, social media should be about belonging, relationships, esteem, dignity, respect, and a greater sense of self. But mostly it is corrupted via opinion polarisation, aggression, dysmorphia, insecurities, hubris, and the false sense of safety from operating in a virtual world.

But going back to the original premise: “a few million and other stuff … makes you as happy as Jeff from Amazon” only then holds true for the lower, physiological needs and doesn’t address the more significant (or less important today? Ed) higher-level needs.

More to the point: do you stay trapped and unfulfilled if you don’t have a few quid and a mortgage-free house with a Porsche on the drive? What happens if the expected esteem from social media turns to e-hating? Or, if your respect evaporates in the face of online reputational damage?

I suppose the answers are to a) strive for the basic needs, but keep the bar as modest (low) as possible, b) strive to do something worthwhile that others respect and appreciate, c) self-learning and discovery is best done away from the public and social media eye, d) gloating or inflating yourself could see you being stripped back to the basics – where a few mill, house, and car could feel very hollow – I’m looking at you Michelle Mone, Philip Green, and all the greedy assholes who sacrificed their chance for self-actualisation on the insecure altar of greed.

And to finish off, we have to quote “no one lies on their deathbed wishing they had worked more”. Except …

Just maybe, if you had worked more and earned more and transcended those lower levels of Maslow’s pyramid then you’d live a decade or two longer. Or if you took the time to learn about health and nutrition, could afford to spend quality time in relationships, afford private preemptive healthcare, saved to retire early … the list goes on and it’s no surprise that wealth, education, and social standing are all positively correlated with longer lifespans and increased quality of life.

Time is indeed the currency of life, yet you’d be surprised how much time a “few mill stashed away” when linked to modest physiological needs and a smaller life, not driven by social media, brings.

Happy hunting, but know when to stop and don’t get fat.

Originally published on https://www.tumblr.com/dower/744457620905148416/time-is-the-currency-of-life-not-money