Money is only really valuable if it can be used to buy something of greater worth than the time and effort that went into earning it.
Beyond our basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing, money begins to lose its intrinsic value. Once our needs are met, what we spend our money on is more a matter of want and preference than need. It is natural to want to eat better food, to live in a larger home in a safer neighborhood, and to wear nicer clothing, but even if we can afford these things, we must consider their real cost.
Too often, we get caught up in the world of comparative value, looking at what other people have and assuming that those things are somehow necessary for our own fulfillment and happiness. Beyond that, we have a natural tendency to assume that a newer, nicer, better, or bigger version of what we have is going to give us a greater level of satisfaction and give our lives greater meaning. The problem is that material possessions all cost money and money costs us something we can never get back, our time.
Money is neither good nor bad. It is neutral. It is simply a means of convenient exchange. We exchange our time for money and then our money for someone else’s time. The goal of this exchange should be to trade up, to gain value, not to lose it.* Before we can trade up, however, we must know the value of what we are trading. We must ask ourselves how much our time is worth to us and what we truly want in exchange for it because we do not get it back once it is traded away.
*Note: Ideally, both parties in an exchange are gaining value because value is relative to the individual. See: Create Value for Profit
Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.
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