The way we use money as a value measure to define worth and even purpose is a bizarre phenomenon that doesn’t get enough skeptical attention. In my opinion.
Its typical functioning and dynamics have been embedded in our minds from a very young age, and very few of us ever question the strange relationship we have with this rather mystifying force of finance.
Let’s talk about money…
When used as a value measure, it speaks no more about an object than using a ruler or a scale. Just as the ruler will tell us how tall or wide an item is, a scale will suggest it’s weight and money will merely define its transactional mathematics.
All tangible interpretations of these measurements are totally subjective. Whether something is tall, or heavy is completely relative and only really perceived through comparison. This same way the price of something and our interpretation of it as cheap or expensive is relative to how much money we have, are willing to spend or wish to acquire.
I’m certain this is not a major epiphany to anyone but I felt to set the record straight before I continue. Money is merely an economic unit of transactional mathematics.
This is probably painfully obvious but it needs to be said to reinforce the context of this contemplation.
When we measure the length of an item, we can define its value in millimeters, inches, yards, etc. Weight is measured this same way in grams, pounds, tons, and the cost of something is measured in dollars, euros, rupiahs… and so on.
None of these figures say anything about the object itself – a third component is necessary to craft a real story. We now have the object and a numerical figure, but for it to have any meaning, we need a reference point.
A meter is quite long when compared to an inch, and a mile is quite insignificant when compared to a long road trip. Earth is huge when viewed from our human point of reference, and tiny when compared to the sun, but this doesn’t really define its worth or value, does it? It doesn’t even define Earth as being big or small just by itself.
This same way, something is only light or heavy when we try to use force and move it against gravity. Weight is only experienced through force and resistance.
All methods of measurement are abstract incremental systems, that alone say nothing about anything. An experiential context is needed to give the measurement a meaning.
Imagine yourself on that long road trip I mentioned above. Dozens of miles just roll by and it means very little in reference to the total distance of your journey. Now imagine you hit a motorway, with no place to pull over and you suddenly need to pee, badly. Then you pass a sign indicating there’s a petrol station 10 miles ahead. Suddenly, a mile becomes very long and growing as your need to pee intensifies.
Suddenly the value of a mile is excruciatingly related to your bladder. Not only does a mile seem long now, but it also begins to feel increasingly bad. Weird, huh? A bad mile! How bizarre is that?
Here’s another take…
One hundred kilograms (220 pounds). Totally harmless by itself, no? I have no personal issue with it, even though it is 10 times less than a ton! Now imagine your own body weighing 100kg or that weight dropped on your toes? Intense. Suddenly we have intense kilograms!
Now imagine 100kg of solid gold bullions. Amazing kilograms! These phantom units can shapeshift into anything.
One thousand United States dollars.
Nice… Many people would have a positive reaction to that.
Maybe you envision a romantic date on the high street with Ol’ Mr. Dollar, or perhaps you’re one of the crazy ones who would take that cash and store it safely in a jar or a bank account.
One thousand when coupled with the unit of USD, is not just an abstract number anymore. It becomes an opportunity, hope, status, etc.
These hopes and opportunities, have as much to do with the dollar, as our bladder has to do with the mile. In some situations, we begin to bridge totally unrelated experiences or things through obscured value perceptions.
Imagine you owe $1000 and you need to pay it back now, or there will be undesired consequences. But you don’t have the money to pay it back at this moment. Suddenly that number, combined with the unit of USD, evokes undesired emotions.
We emotionally weave an invisible web, connecting material objects and experiences with fears, hopes, desires, and values.
Hold on…What are you going on about?
As I said, the above was only necessary to set the context of this contemplation. The point is that in certain situations, we project obscured ideas and emotions on abstract numerical measurements, and our affair with money gets a lot of that.
A simple numerical figure is too abstract to effectively govern transactional logic as we experience it through our human biology.
Let me elaborate on this statement.
Just because an item is labeled as costing $25, doesn’t necessarily mean that its actual worth to us can be measured in this way.
Let’s say there’s a book that costs $25. A person who sees no value in its content would be unwilling to spend even $5 on the book, yet another person would be willing to pay 10 times that amount because to them it holds a deeply significant meaning.
Money, however, enforces a very homogenized logic of exchange which actually blocks out more sentimental merits of worth and value from human life.
Why is this a problem you may ask? Well, because we, as humans are incredibly sentimental beings and unless we experience that visceral, emotional dimension in our transactions, we are unable to feel fulfillment and deep connection with anything.
Consumerism, as we see it today, is in some way, of course, an economic mechanism that keeps the wheel turning but from a deeper psychological level, it’s a desperate attempt and projecting sentimental value on to lifeless abstract figures.
Why would we purchase an Apple computer, which is 4 times more expensive than a PC of equal specs? Why would someone buy a high-end designer purse, which is 20 times more expensive than alternatives of the same quality? Why would someone pay disproportionate sums for a rare, custom made exotic sports car, if they’re only going to roll it out of the garage a few times a year?
It’s because sentimentality is the only measure of worth and value that we can actually experience, and we’re willing to pay for it!
This is why multi-millionaires can often feel like they still don’t have enough because another zero at the end of their bank statement holds zero sentimental value.
Spending a ludicrous amount of money on a material object where it’s only worth is sentimental, is so tremendously ridiculous, that it actually makes one feel alive!
It helps bestow warmth and life into our cadaverous economics. This is why many people with money begin to collect rare items like art, stamps or vintage cars. They convert lifeless money into sentimental energy, making financial riches seem very appealing. Speaking purely of energetics, this conversion is outrageously inefficient.
Our sterilized transaction logics are deeply frustrating to the human soul, and in our capitalistic society, the only ones who seem to be able to escape it are those financially affluent.
I speculate, that the driving desire for financial riches isn’t about buying stuff but about freeing oneself from the economic mechanism.
The lifelessness of money feels like a sky-high wall, that we desperately want to climb over. It seems that only once we have so much money, that it’s just not a topic anymore, can we finally enjoy life as it truly is – warm, sentimental and full of adventure.
On the other side of this wall, however, is a bottomless pit and there is nothing you can fill it with. No material object can ever sustain sentimentality. What really intrigues us about spending a stupid amount of money on a totally useless thing, is the feeling that we fought for something and we won.
We worked hard for our cash, and the ludicrousness of throwing it at something totally meaningless becomes the trophy of our triumph.
This same psychology keeps an athlete training for years just to win a gold medal in the Olympics. It’s not about the medal. It’s about struggle and victory.
The person who is given the opportunity to pay $250 for a book that only costs $25, would actually feel so much more satisfied because they got to express their love and dedication for something they believe in and connect with.
It’s so beautiful. We live in a world that is too sanitized for deep humanness.
What’s the alternative?
I imagine a world where nothing needs a price tag and all production is motivated by sheer love for creativity instead of monetary anticipation.
This probably sounds far fetched and utopian, but how far are we truly from this being possible? Do we need a total revolution of our monetary systems or could a little shift in our thinking make a significant difference?
Our current financial infrastructure is just a system. It has some basic rules and much of it is already well established. Plus it’s also still evolving and even remarkable innovations are taking place in the world of finance. I personally think that for now, let’s let that system be and rather focus on our relationship with it.
Money is currency, meaning it’s a stream. Not a stream of dirty paper, but an endless circuit of energy, gushing through our human-built environment at every moment. The lights in my room and the electricity to run this computer are both powered by this monetary stream, as well as the manufacturing and transportation of either. For this, money is pretty awesome, no?
For a stream to flow freely, we need both an inlet and an outlet.
This is, however, where things begin to get a little strange. The inlet may be a paycheck from an employer and the outlet is the energy we’ve contributed to their business. The inlet could also be a payment for a personal service we offer, which is the outlet. These are very common ways people “make money”. The latter is what I’ve been doing for years, selling my web and design skills for much-needed cash.
The hourly rate modus operandi or a monthly paycheck, have us believe that there is a very direct relationship between the inlet and outlet.
This sequential correlation between personal effort going out and money coming is an illusion, and a trap. It’s the most widespread form of contemporary slavery.
Does working in a grocery store all day, just so one could have the money to buy basic amenities, really make sense? No, it doesn’t. Go plant a garden and build a small house out in the country if you’re willing to dedicate your life to just basic food and shelter. At least you can enjoy the tranquility of nature, enjoy the elements and eat healthy organic food. Life is simple but beautiful.
How many of us are willing to live totally miserable lives, to just meet the bare basics? Have we ever thought that the basics could be luxuriously acquired in a much more fulfilling and beautiful way, directly from nature?
Truth is that most of you reading this, are probably not living such menial routine lives, and are at the cusp of a transformation within yourself, seeking for something deeper. Please continue reading…
Your awesomeness as your greatest asset
Imagine you would have a steady stream of income, always enough to sustain all of your fundamental needs, and all you need to do is just focus on giving yourself fully to the things that truly matter to you.
If money was not a factor, what would you choose to do in life? I’m certain that none of us would just watch TV, play computer games, eat junk and do nothing.
Humans are simply not designed like that. Inertia and half-heartedness is a stress response. If the stress for survival would cease, a restlessness would wake up within us that demands a more potent outlet.
There is a powerful meaning to our lives, encoded into our DNA and it’s just waiting to be lived out! We are intrinsically a part of the human collective, the ecology of this earth, and the cosmic organism.
Our true meaning and purpose in life are always reflected in the collective, so naturally, our deepest calling will have something to do with how we interact with humanity, and what we offer for the growth, wellbeing, and evolution of our collective family. I believe that evolution, both spiritual and biological, is the only purpose of all life.
This is the basis of superhero mythology. There is a superhero gene, lying dormant within each of us, waiting to be awakened, and we feel it!
Bruce Wayne, the Batman, took to the streets to kick bad-guy ass probably as a way to feel deep sentimental fulfillment in his otherwise lonely and meaningless rich-dude life. Same with Iron Man.
No superhero was every motivated by a paycheck. Superman and Spider-Man worked a lousy job only as an alibi to cover what they’re really up to.
This type of superhero potency is within all of us. Each of us has something within us that we would do for no money or any direct transactional reward.
To break-up from our dysfunctional relationship to money, we need to shift our focus away from what we want from life, and look at what we want to give life.
Getting paid to be awesome
The whole inlet/outlet thing I spoke of above, was only necessary to wiggle my ideas into the normal patterning of our brains. Truth is that life is more like surfing. The ocean moves us and we just go to keep our balance and enjoy the ride.
By doing what you truly love and believe in, the need for sentimentality is naturally satisfied and the desire for money becomes a simple practical matter and not a quest for a deeper meaning in life.
The internet has given way to amazing opportunities and business models. Online content creators earn money literally by people just interacting with their content. There are also subscription-based donation services such as Patreon or you can simply offer online programs, working with hundreds or even thousands of people simultaneously. There’s also no limitation for networking and connecting with people.
Whilst it’s still easy to attempt well-trodden grooves of service to payment type of business conduct, the global online economy fundamentally functions differently.
The governing principles of the internet are relevance and value. In the form of targeted ads, it can be a little annoying but it also means that your talents, gifts, visions, and passion can be your greatest assets in this new marketplace.
There is immense energy within your dormant superpowers and there is a borderless audience, waiting for your awesomeness.
Humanity doesn’t really want muscle men with laser eyes, beating up alien invaders. What we are truly seeking is guidance and inspiration for inner transformation, expansion, and liberation… and sometimes a bit of fun.
Each one, teach one, and by the time the alien invaders come, we will have a whole planet of superheroes.
The new paradigm of success and wealth is not about what we want from the world but what we give. This is not a utopian reality for some time in the future. The infrastructure needed to build careers and lifestyles out of our most powerful inspirations and visions is already here.
Take the first steps by looking deep within, and find your own superpower. Wake up your superhero gene and then go kick ass!
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it,