The lifestyles of the rich and affluent have been glamorized in books and movies like The Great Gatsby and Crazy Rich Asians. F. Scott Fitzgerald also went as far as opening one of his short stories with the classic lines, “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.”
But the truth about money is that it doesn’t change our lives significantly in the big picture. The journey of the Minimalists — the duo of Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus — depicts this truth. They had everything they had wished for but they still felt unhappy and unsatisfied. Finally, when they changed their direction and tread on the path of minimalism and living a more intentional life with less, they were able to find meaning and satisfaction with their refined pursuits. They started doing the work and living a life that better aligned with them and their inner values.
Seneca, who was considered one of the richest men in Rome, was also well aware of this truth. In On Consolation to Helvia, he writes, “Let’s pass over to the really rich — how often the occasions they look just like the poor! When they travel abroad they must restrict their baggage, and when haste is necessary, they dismiss their entourage. And those who are in the army, how few of their possessions they get to keep…”
Money is useful but it’s overrated. We all think that having money will solve many of our problems, but the truth is that it won’t. No amount of material possessions and extrinsic success will change our lives. As Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman point out in The Daily Stoic, “External things can’t fix internal issues.”
Contrary to the popular belief, the rich and famous are not some elite, glamorous, and advanced form of human species. In fact, there are many wealthy people living on this planet who are actually broke and broken inside. As Gaur Gopal Das remarks, “Some people are so poor that all they have is money.”