When faced with decisions that have ultimate implications for your happiness, it is necessary to consider that happiness from as many different perspectives as possible, not just the economic perspective. Otherwise we become defined by the narrow and limiting perspective of money, not the actual limitations that we have. Perhaps, we must consider, it is more useful to make less money. As un-American as this may seem, our happiness as individuals and as a nation seems to be at stake, but not for the reasons that we might believe.
The more dependent upon money we become, the more impoverished we become. I am realizing that the ability to fend for myself, to provide for myself, and to be motivated not by the usefulness of my ability to make money but by the usefulness of my abilities is providing the richness of life that I need, the perspective that I need to be happy. It is indeed true that money cannot buy happiness. In fact, often times it purchases discontent.
For example, my wife said something to me that has stuck. She grew up on an eight-generation farm in Europe. She remembers having no money, but always having enough to do and enough to eat. The fear of poverty is still with her, but through our discussions she has come to realize that the poverty that her family endured was not because of the farm, but because of the motivation to make money. To farm, to homestead is to give up on our dependency upon money. However, in giving up on our dependency upon money, we do not become impoverished, but enriched.
As backward as this may seem to many, it is true. I am learning to live without money is unrealistic but only because I am realizing the limitations of my abilities. Money does not provide independence, but only dependence upon those with the abilities that I lack. It is not living without money that is unrealistic; it is living without knowing your own limitations.
A homestead provides ample opportunity for experiencing limitations, limitations that money cannot conquer. In cities across this nation I do not believe that it is the lack of money that is problematic, but only the lacking realization that we are limited. We cannot “do” what we want to “do” if we do not know how to “do” it. We can “think” what we want to “think” if we do not know how to “think”. In fact, I believe that money as a sole motivator lessens the ability to realize our own limitations and in doing so gives us a false sense of security; I have certainly experienced that in my own life.
I have also experienced the frustration of my own ignorance and short-comings with regard to my own limitations. In rebuilding a 1939 Farmall F-20 I learned that it will not start simply because it is supposed to start. It is the same with money actually. Simply because money is supposed to be able to buy you happiness does not mean that it actually will.