What money can’t buy ?


One of the challenges every generation faces is the craving for wealth. We all grow up dreaming of accumulating wealth so that all our needs in life can be fulfilled. We also tend to believe that with money one can buy anything and everything in life. This dream appears to be the ultimate truth till reality hits us some day. I met a youngster today in my office. She is a talented young professional and is married to another talented professional by choice. They have one kid and both are doing well in their careers.

This young professional made a confession to me. She said that till recently she believed that money could get her all that she wants in life. However, she had a set back in her health and this made her realize that money cannot buy her health. It shook her so much that she decided to take a career break so that she can focus on her health and her family.

Another young guy shared another interesting insight. He said he has all the money he needed but his quest for happiness was elusive. This may be because that money cannot buy happiness too. Happiness is a state of mind. It is an attitude to life. You can find a man on the street in abject poverty who finds it difficult to earn for the food and shelter of his family every day. But this person is content and happy with what he has and finds ways and means of giving back to society. On the other hand, many of us with abundant wealth have our desires and needs unfulfilled forever.

One of my fundamental learnings in life is that money cannot buy health or happiness in life. We need to work every day to evolve habits of diet and exercise so that we lead a healthy life. We need to work to fulfill our needs and manage our greed so that happiness does not elude us. Happiness is function of gratitude and contentment in my view. As long as we are grateful for what we have in life and content with ourselves without comparing with others when our needs are fulfilled, we may be happy in life.

This may be easier to state than to realize. I may confess that it took me many years in life to realize this. Today if I look back at my life, I should state that my family and societal values have helped me to be content and grateful in life. I should thank my diabetes and my spouse’s encouragement for my maintaining a healthy diet and a good daily exercise routine. This has enabled me to maintain good health and be happy in life at all times.

It may be worthwhile to reflect on this issue. I know of the richest people in my country who could have bought islands around the world with their wealth. But they could not buy health nor happiness in their sunset years. This proves that wealth can never buy health or happiness. The earlier we realize this axiom of life, the better it is for us. It may help us lead a healthier and happier life very early in our life time.

The happy kids in the photo above in a remote village proves that wealth and happiness are not correlated.

Another interesting insight is that both health and happiness are self dependant. You can never delegate your exercising or attitude to life to someone else. One has to be self disciplined in diet and exercise to maintain good health. Similarly one has to be content and grateful to everything in your life to be happy. You can neither buy, rent or lease health or happiness.

Try it.

S Ramesh Shankar

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