If you are like me- then you spend way too much time in front of your comp. You have probably let some other part of your life slip- maybe your health or your relationships. A lack of balance usually comes hand in hand with a lack of perspective. Personally I justify it as “temporary” and that I’m doing it “because I have to“, i.e: for the money.
Hmmm. Maybe that’s a load of codswallop. Maybe I can earn less money and have more fun. Maybe I could be happier as a person with a more rounded life if I stopped worrying so much about money. I hate letting anyone down, but just sometimes the darned emails can wait….
Good old Benjamin Franklin reputedly changed the word “profit” to “happiness“, as in “the pursuit of….” while drawing up The Constitution. Point being- money does not bring happiness.
It’s not just a cliché told by the rich to the poor, it’s the truth. For those of you who have not had the chance to witness the irony of seeing rich people you know personally- utterly miserable, or the smiley, innocent disposition of people in the Third World who are dirt poor, there is an excellent illustration of this concept by an old school chum of mine, Alain De Botton, in his book “The Consolations Of Philosophy“. Below, is part of his reflection on the teachings of Epicurus.
1. Identify a project for happiness.
In order to be happy on holiday, I must live in a villa
2. Imagine that the project may be false. Look for exceptions to the supposed link between the desired object and happiness. Could one possess the desired object but not be happy? Could one be happy but not have the desired object?
Could I spend money on a villa and still not be happy?
Could I be happy on holiday and not spend as much money as on a villa?
3. If an exception is found, the desired object cannot be a necessary and sufficient cause of happiness.
It is possible to have a miserable time in a villa if, for example, I feel friendless and isolated?
It is possible for me to be happy in a tent if, for example, I am with someone I love and feel appreciated by?
4. In order to be accurate about producing happiness, the initial
project must be nuanced to take the exception into account.
In so far as I can be happy in an expensive villa, this depends on being with someone I love and feel appreciated by.
I can be happy without spending money on a villa, as long as I am with someone I love and feel appreciated by.
5. True needs may now seem very different from the confused initial desire.
Happiness depends more on the possession of a congenial companion than a well-decorated villa.
Epicurus himself sums it up best:
The possession of the greatest riches does not resolve the agitation of the soul nor give birth to remarkable joy