Balancing Money & Meaning
One of the greatest dilemmas in man’s quest for purpose is how to balance meaning with the pursuit of money.
The question of whether money buys happiness does not have a definitive answer. Wealth, obviously, is not defined by money but richness of life. Though, there’s no denying that quality of life is largely determined by economic prosperity.
Our notoriously tumultuous relationship with money is often rooted in confusion around its role: the muddled lines between whether it is merely a means to an end or an end itself, and whether it has inherent value or is solely one of many mediums of exchange.
Moreover, our insatiable thirst for money is driven by all that it symbolizes — security, identity, liberty — yet propels us to make difficult tradeoffs that jeopardize the very lifestyle we claim we need money to obtain.
Brands prey on our money anxieties and financial discontent by taking advantage of the fears, insecurities, unfulfilled desires, and far off aspirations to influence us to buy and consume products that give us an artificial and temporary sense of high status — and self.
And, as lifestyle brand builders, we deliberately write stories and scripts that showcase a more fabulous, more glamorous, more luxurious life, and invite our consumers to exchange money for the opportunity to live vicariously through the fantastical images we convey.
I'd be a fool to suggest that money doesn't play a critical role in our lives. However, the remedy to our money woes is to gain clarity on what money is and isn’t and what it can and can’t do for us. Though it's easier said than done, with effort we can put it in its proper place and understand how to allocate some of our energy to other worthy causes.