My Two Cents
I have not yet met a person who has said, “My happiest day was buying a new . . . ” You can fill in the blank. Our happiest days have to do with love and expressing love. We thrive, we grow, we feel sorrow and joy with human connection. Buying stuff does not connect us. Being together does.
Why does it sometimes seem that people with the most money can be the least generous and most fearful about losing money?
I consider myself to be “tri-polar,” meaning there are three identities that dictate my daily actions: entrepreneur, journalist, and ethics professor. While these three identities can sometimes compete with one another, there are those occasions when all three collaborate to support a single issue. One such situation is when I contemplate the “bigger” question we all struggle with — where did my T-shirt come from?
A client says to me, “My husband and I argue about money constantly. It has gotten to where, when he comes in the room, I just freeze up and think, What is he going to say today? It is killing our marriage. All he wants to do is work on our budget, chat about the schedule, talk about kids, my sister’s stupidity, or his crazy mother’s new husband, who is going to ruin Mom’s finances.
A seismic shift is happening. The change that is underway is profound and will seem to most to be revolutionary. What is this shift? The historic paradigm that our self-worth comes from what we own is ending. We’re moving away from valuing multiple cars, multiple televisions, plastic surgeries, and saving little. This shift will underscore the false consumption-oriented economy that we in the West think is the key to prosperity and happiness. Finally, it is sinking into our collective head that our borrow/spend behavior does not make us happy.
The United Nations World Health Organization calculates that one billion people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water. This lack of water and the consequential poor hygiene accounts for 2.2 million deaths per year, 90 percent of those children under the age of five.
The South African company Q-Drum has reinvented the wheel to help solve this problem, literally. In order for many people to obtain clean water, they must walk long distances to a water source and then carry the water, in containers balanced on their heads and shoulders, back to their homes.
ll we need to do is turn on the TV or radio, glance at a billboard, or even check our email to feel that we are inadequate without this or that product. So it is easy to understand why we have it in our heads that spending money will ease tension and stress and bring us happiness—we get these messages all the time, everywhere we go.
In the current economic climate, with millions of people losing their homes and jobs, many of us are experiencing a -plummeting sense of self-worth. And while a diminished sense of self might seem like just another failing asset at a time when we’re -desperately hoping to catch a break, it’s actually an important part of Mother Nature’s plan.
I’m sitting at the counter in Noshville, Nashville’s New York-style Jewish deli, talking to a well-dressed fellow who tells me he’s a lawyer. Our conversation turns to the economy, and I thought I’d share his thoughts with you as best as I can recall them.