The Money Illusion

“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…”


Without realizing it, we tend to think that the very rich inhabit a special realm — that they breathe some sort of rarefied air. We think that their excess of money solves all their problems for them.

It really doesn’t, and therein lies the money illusion. Despite all that wealth, rich folks are often brought down to ‘our level’ and forced to follow the same rules whether they like it or not. This is especially true in death, the great equalizer. But it’s also true when they are traveling or going out in public — they have challenges just like the rest of us, and they’re required to follow the rules just like we are. As Seneca points out in today’s entry in The Daily Stoic book, money doesn’t give the wealthy a free pass to do whatever they want, nor does it remove all their problems.

That is because of the obvious fact that money doesn’t fix everything. It doesn’t fix much at all, in fact! Ryan Holiday, the author of the book, points out that “external things can’t fix internal issues.” What a painfully obvious and yet prescient statement.

Sometimes, money makes things worseluxury is known to destroy the soul. It’s better to understand this now than to learn the hard way later. If you’re chasing money, realize it won’t do for you what you think it will. It’s the illusion of money. Everybody knows that money can’t buy happiness, of course, but it might actually bring sadness. If this sounds like you and your goals, consider changing course while you still can.

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