On Quora, I frequently come across questions such as:
- How do I become rich?
- How can I become a millionaire by age 30?
- How do I turn $100,000 into $1 million?
- Am I considered rich if I earn $200,000 a year?
Over the past weekend, I had the opportunity to play a game in a workshop setting.
The goal of the game was to obtain true wealth – happiness, health, freedom of time, relationships – represented in the game by round stones.
There were two rounds to the game. In the first round, participants were each given 4 random playing cards. These represented our skills.
Participants had to barter trade with one another until we had a set of 4 matching cards. Each set could be exchanged for one round stone, and we would be dealt another 4 random cards.
This carried on for 5 minutes. During the round, we found ourselves helping one another to match each other’s sets. Observers noted that we huddled together in a large group as we went about the game.
In the second round, money was introduced and barter trade was disallowed. The round began with the bank offering loans. These loans had a certain interest rate, and had to be repaid at the end of the round, otherwise the participant would end up in jail.
In other words, there will always be more debt than there is money in the game. Hence, someone will end up in jail. The same is true for real life. There is more debt in the monetary system than there is money to repay it.
But moving on. We had to use money to buy and sell cards. Observers noted that this time round, instead of helping each other, participants were more individualistic. It was everyone for themselves only.
Around the 4th minute of the round, I had amassed a number of playing cards and a certain amount of money. But I had not a single round stone.
Even those I had lots of skills? And lots of money, I wasn’t happy. I had no relationships, no health, no freedom of time. I had gotten so caught up accumulating the wrong things which distracted me from true wealth.
And indeed this is so in the real world. The struggle to accumulate money often distracts us from accumulating true wealth.
Lots of people focus on accumulating money, thinking that it can buy happiness. While it can, many forget that’s what they’re supposed to use money for. Instead, we end up chasing money for money’s sake.
We end up rich in assets and cash, but poor in happiness, kindness, compassion, generosity, friendships, love, health, freedom, and happiness.
To become truly rich, truly wealthy, we must never forget our true goal in life – to be happy. We must never forget that money is an invention of mankind, to bring about greater convenience to how we trade.
It is all too easy to do so, and forget that money is just a tool, an invention.
Having realised my mistake, I exchanged all my money and playing cards for matching sets and ended the game with lots of true wealth, but no money and no skills. And in jail!
But I had true wealth and at the end of the day, that’s what mattered.