Monday, 7 April 2014

The Money Mirage

What do the following people have in common? Charlotte Dawson. Ian Thorpe. Philip Seymour Hoffman. Kurt Cobain. Marilyn Monroe. Michael Hutchence. Robbie Williams. Whitney Houston. Amy Winehouse, Ben Cousins. Scott Miller. Pat Cash. The list goes on.

They all have (or have had) fame. They all have (or have had) excess amounts of wealth. They all lived a glamorous life at one point or another. And they all either attended rehab for drug addictions, committed suicide, or both.

It's the sad, too often heard story of fallen stars. The world was their oyster. They had it all at their feet. They could buy what they want. Holiday where they wanted. Drive what they want. Eat where they wanted.

But were they happy? Are they happy?

It's what I call the "Money Mirage". The attractive illusion that success is defined purely on the size and scale of your house, the make and model of your car, the label on your clothes or how physically attractive you are. Yet it is proven time and time again that these things don't fulfill us. 

How many Hollywood celebrities have succumbed to the pressure of fame? Many have admitted as much.

Why? They have everything the want - well materially speaking anyway.

In my opinion, the yearning for money, prestige and appearances doesn't buy happiness. It buys greed, selfishness and materialism. It doesn't give you a sense of true satisfaction. It's like Maccas. Great at the time, but you feel like a bin half an hour later. It just doesn't satisfy.

"Fame doesn't fulfill you. It warms you a bit, but that warmth is temporary." - Marilyn Monroe
So what is it that provides genuine happiness? That is the million dollar question (pardon the pun) and could take up paragraph after paragraph. 

While only scratching the surface, I believe happiness is found in family, decent friends, of striving to always do the right thing, putting others first and above all else, having a purpose or goal in life that is virtuous and that contributes to the common good of society.

While I understand people need money to raise families and to live, we shouldn't be ruled by it. Two years ago, I resigned from my well-paying job and became unemployed for six months while I attempted a well considered career change. Finally, I accepted a job that was paying a little more than what my very first job did four years earlier.

Am I on $100,000 a year? No. Am I happy? Yes. Can I afford a new flash car? No. Can I take my wife out to a nice restaurant whenever I feel like it? No. Am I successful? I believe so. 

I have a beautiful wife, a newborn son who is the jewel of my life, a house, a job I like and good health. Life is good, even if we do have to count the pennies.

Aside from money, many people attempt to find happiness in other substanceless areas. As a society, generally, we adulate and adore rock stars and sports people. Many openly wish they could swap their lives with those of celebrities. Hell, some people dress up as their favourite celebrity at fancy dress parties. Yet, how many of these celebrities are truly happy? Why do we adulate them more than the common man? After all, they are just other people.

"I've got this brilliant thing where I go, "I'm Robbie Williams", and people are interested in what I want to say - which is amazing because I'm just an idiot from Stoke-on-Trent." - Robbie Williams

Photo courtesy of
Yes, we can admire their musical or sporting skills, but worshipping them as Gods places unreasonable and extreme pressure on many of them to continue to be something that doesn't make them happy. 
As a generation (Gen-Y), we are, in my opinion, barking up the wrong tree in so many areas. We are obsessed with ourselves, with our looks, with how our life appears to others. Selfie after selfie, Facebook post after Facebook post about which expensive restaurant we are dining in or which incredible part of the world we are planning to blow this year’s salary on ("ah don't worry, I'll pay the credit card off during the year").
We (Gen-Y) are consumed by superficiality and materialism. We live for the moment at the detriment of the future. We give narcissism a serious boost when it comes to posting on social media. We are consumed by TV shows that endorse experiences and ideals we don't desire for ourselves. We are forever looking for the next best alternative when it comes to entertainment or acquiring material possessions.
I went to Vanuatu in 2003 on a voluntary work camp. The group I was with got to know some of the locals really well. They didn't have much. They lived in shanties. Yet they always smiled. They always welcomed us into their homes. They showed us the local cuisine and drank Kava with us (possibly the weirdest drink I've ever had). The kids were happy with a soccer ball and a patch of grass for 6 hours. Compare this to some kids today who get bored with an iPad after an hour. These people had no money yet they weren't unhappy. Not on the surface anyway.
They weren't consumed by materialism and selfishness. It seriously opened my eyes and caused me to consider that while we undoubtedly live in a lucky country and have a high standard of living, I can’t help but wonder whether we’d be better off with less.
We (in particular Gen-Y) need a big glass of humble the hell up. Be normal! Be real! Be genuine! Don’t be fake. Don’t only consider yourself. Don’t try and be someone you’re not. Because when it's all said and done, we are all going to be six foot deep. And six foot down the worms couldn't give a stuff how much our coffins cost.

All the best,

Dom Meese

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