Do you want to be Wealthy?
In my opinion, wealth is not an absolute value. We human beings are just too obsessed with putting a number to everything. At what point in life do we consider ourselves wealthy? This article pretty much sums up most people’s attitude towards wealth. Basically, 2 out of 5 Americans with assets of 5 million or more do not think that they are wealthy. Only 1 out of 4 with assets from 1 million to 5 million think that they are wealthy. A median household income (around $52,000) in the U.S would put you in the top 1% of earners worldwide, WORLDWIDE! How crazy is that? Therefore, how wealthy we feel actually depends a lot on where we live and the people around us. If your friends are all billionaires, you will likely feel poor as dirt even as a multi millionaire.
Taking the first step
This is why step 1 is important, by establishing the kind of lifestyle you want as early as possible, before you are further tainted by the inevitable corruption of consumerism. Don’t even try deny it, everyone is infected by mindless consumption. Yes, even me. We can’t hope to stop it, but we can try to prevent this cancerous corruption from spreading.
Karl Marx predicted this phenomenon and called it the commodities fetish. Our love for commodities become so strong that we eventually turn ourselves into commodities to make sense of the world. We price and sell ourselves, just like how the market prices and treats commodities. Even emotions like love has a price. We buy gifts to show our love for someone, instead of spending time. Things and emotions only become valuable if there is a huge price tag attached to it.
The Unconscious Mind
Sigmund Freud introduced the concept of the unconscious to the public, to show us that our mind is irrational and illogical. Advertising makes use of this unconscious mind to manipulate consumer behaviors and rule over us with material wants. The unconscious cannot be hidden away, it will always find its way to the surface.
His nephew, Edward Bernays, made use of this knowledge and pioneered the field of public relations (marketing). Before Bernays, companies focused on the facts and benefits of their products to consumers. But Bernays knew that it was ineffective because we human beings are irrational creatures. In one of his campaigns to encourage women to start smoking, he staged a scene where some debutantes started smoking as an act of defiance against gender inequality. Instantly, smoking was no longer perceived by the public as harmful and crude but righteous and meaningful. That is why a shiny stone that serves no purpose fetches thousands of dollars. Buying an expensive bling bling stone for a girl shows your commitment and that you love her, really?
Moral of the story is that we can never become wealthy if we constantly compare ourselves to those that are better off than us, it is much easier to work towards what you want in life isolated from peer influences.
Do you find yourself comparing wealth with fellow peers? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.