September 27, 2012

What's It Worth?

How You View Money

It's my firm belief that while money is a very useful tool, it does not make a very worthwhile goal.  We've all heard the old sayings, 'The Best Things In Life Are Free', and 'Money Can't Buy Happiness'. I think that both of these statements are true, but unfortunately, money is a necessary evil in our society. We need money to provide the basics of food, health and shelter for ourselves and those we love and are responsible for.

Maybe evil is too strong a word. Money isn't the root of all evil, but a love of money, and a desire for the power that money can provide, is probably behind more of the evil in our world than any other root cause. Of all our baser emotions, greed has to be one of the most destructive to the relationships that make life worth the daily struggle.

See, I grew up in a household that never saw much money. We ate lots of mac-n-cheese, hamburger helper and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.  We wore second-hand clothes most of the time, and the only time we saw new toys was at Christmas and birthdays. But I never considered us poor, because we had something that some of my friends, who were financially much better off, didn't have ... We had love, laughter and each other.

In school I was, at times, envious of the 'stuff' that other kids had, but I understood even then, that having lots of cool stuff didn't mean that you were happy. I remember seeing one of my classmates come to school in brand new clothes, with bruises on her face, and feeling blessed and lucky. I had the best mom in the world. She worked hard, and while steak was only for special occasions, we never went to bed hungry, and I never had to hide my face, or my feelings, from the world. 

Wealth Is Not Success

Too many people equate success with wealth. Money can be used to make your life more comfortable, but simply having it does not guarantee happiness, love or success in building relationships with others. I'm not saying that having money is bad, but it shouldn't be the goal. Having the security that a savings account provides is wonderful, but being broke does not mean that you are a failure, it just means you have to keep working to provide the basics.

Maybe I'm not the best judge of money. I've never been wealthy, so I can't speak from experience about having lots of money. There were times in my life that I earned a lot of money, but I used it as a tool to provide the things my family wanted and needed. I made a lot of mistakes as well, and never saved  money or tried to accumulate wealth, but my wife and I always tried to give our kids the best gifts of all - positive self-images, love and a set of values that will help them to be the best people they can be.

True Value

If you find yourself feeling blue because you are struggling with the bills and pressures of life, or if you are so focused on accumulating money that your health or relationships suffer, keep in mind another great nugget of handed-down wisdom, 'You Can't Take It With You'. When you come to the clearing at the end of the path, and look back at your life, will you have regrets? Which will you regret more, not having all the fancy things you could have bought, or not spending more time with those you love and who love you?

Just think what a wonderful world we could all live in, if more people taught their children to think more about the value of things and people, and less about how much they cost. If everyone put the joy of a child's smile above the self-satisfaction of a wad of cash in their pocket, and the warmth that comes from helping others over the ego boost that a big check gives them, how much happier would we all be?

I may not be rich, but when I look at my children and grandchildren, I feel very successful indeed. When the time comes, I will stand before my maker, point to my memories of their smiles and their happiness and be very proud of the job I've done, and the life I've led.

This opinion is totally free of charge, and comes straight

From Grandpa's Heart ...

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