Wealth- We all have our own philosophy of what it is and what it aims to achieve.
Of all the philosophers, Schopenhauer was perhaps the harshest when it came to monetary wealth. “Wealth is like sea-water: The more we drink the thirstier we become.” He once stated. (Yikes, does this mean I should hold off on winning the Powerball? I mean, there’s a new Fender guitar and a Victorian style house with falling leaves blanketing the lawn I’ve had my eyes on…)
While money has its place in society, it really isn’t what allows us to feel truly fulfilled. Even the richest people in the world will tell you there’s a difference between monetary wealth and true wealth. Passion, freedom, people who we love and who love us, these are widely seen as some of the commodities that infuse those who feel truly wealthy. It’s a sense, a deep-seated feeling that’s difficult to explain.
The former is something that may elude us for years at a time, if we are ever lucky enough to find it to begin with in an ever fleeting world. Passion. Discovering and exploring what we love to do day after day instead of meandering down the highways in steel boxes just to collect a paycheck so we can pay the bills.
It’s what fuels us, what drives us. It’s what keeps us going when the pains and perils of life come crashing down and the sky’s stones drub us while we’re vulnerable and unprotected. Many will tell you that passion, not paychecks, is their number one determining factor when measuring the success and happiness of their lives. So even if you can’t make your passion into a profession, make time for it. Somehow or someway, make time for it.
The musician who plays at the local dive bar weekend after weekend surrounded by the aroma of stale liquor and slurred requests echoing through the air instead of the lit up stage at The Grammy Awards continues to do it for one reason. Passion. The love of music and the love of performing.
The entrepreneur who comes up with an idea that can help make people’s lives easier, who wakes up at the crack of dawn then grinds through meeting after meeting, day after day, exhausted and battle tested until that dream becomes a reality. Passion.
The veterinarian who navigated their way through years of instructive lectures, tests and sleepless nights while drowning in caffeine and being trapped by mountains of textbooks, all so they could be around and aid the animals they love so much for the rest of their lives. Passion.
Now, I know this all seems very well and good, but I know the question you’re secretly wanting the answer to, and that is, “Great, but how important was passion to the Greeks?” Glad you asked. Passion was so important to the Greeks that they didn’t even write obituaries when a person died, they only asked one question: “Did that person live with passion?” From early on in society it was well known- The quality of one’s life outweighs the quantity.
You may be asking yourself, “What if I don’t have a passion? How do I find the thing that keeps me going, that keeps making my days count?”
As humans, we are natural explorers. So many different things spike our curiosity. Think back to when you were a kid, remember how everything was so fascinating to you- the colors, textures and sizes of different animals, how shopping carts looked rolling down the grocery store aisle, the crab apples growing on your grandma’s tree in the back yard. These and countless other things awakened something in us.
As we get older, it’s harder to get excited by things we’ve seen or done a million times. And even if we were once passionate and enthralled with something at one point in our lives, it doesn’t always last forever. What once shimmered can easily turn dull and mundane. So what are we to do?
Well, keep exploring! If there’s something you see that makes you smile, makes you take a second look or just brings you in ever so slightly, you owe it to yourself to explore that, even if it seems scary at first. You never know what will strike the match that lights the fire inside of you. Pick up that guitar, take that class that always intrigued you, buy that microphone for the podcast. It could add tremendous value that in unexplainable unless you’ve truly experienced.
If it goes beyond a hobby, if it’s something you find that you want to dedicate yourself to, make it really matter. Hustle harder than anyone. If you’re looking to make a living from it the money will come as long as you put in the work. But the act of actually doing it, actually living it day to day, making you spring out of bed in the morning, this is what will truly make you a wealthy person. And when your days are finally done, you will know what the Greeks would have said about you and the life you led.