What Do You Want?


My last article “Over Protected” had a hint of survivalism and simple mindedness to it. I guess that was its purpose; to break through the Western-world mentality of “more, better, richer, faster” and slow down, if only for a minute and realize that we should never take what we have for granted. So, I guess another name for the article could have been “What Do You Need?”.

But the point should not be just to save for a rainy day, but to have enough to provide for many days, and for many others. A self-made millionaire and close friend once told me “your goal is not to pay as little taxes as possible, but to make the most after-tax income”. Some people focus so much time and energy on having all the things that they Need, that they disregard the things they really Want.

Bling and Pearls Ain’t Riches

There is a philosophy prevalent by some that “money is the root of all evil”. I must disagree. As many problems may arise due to an abundance of money, so many more result from a lack thereof.

But do they really want money? There are very few people in this world who make it their sole vocation to have money and accumulate more of it. Even Warren Buffett, the world’s wealthiest investor, a very frugal and conservative man by any standard, will tell you that as much as he enjoys accumulating wealth, his real pleasure is in investing in business that will do well in the future. No doubt, Buffett is a very had man to come by. Yet, his ultimate goal is to give it all away once he’s gone.

Fascination with wealth is often confused with an urge for power. It is the power to do what you’d like without worrying about how to finance it. The power to not have to answer to people out of necessity but out of interest. You already have everything you need, right?

Unfortunately, not so much. I know many, many wealthy individuals who’s married lives are broken, their kids are messed up, they’re friends are all suck-ups (hoping to get some of the action), and are respected simply because of their status and position. Nothing more, nothing less. They’re lives are void of any true meaning and purpose.

The True Rich

When you look around at the world, you’ll find a fascinating phenomenon. Those who have nothing tend to be happier. This may be because they have so little to lose and thus so little to worry about. But it can also be because they value things differently. To them a hug from someone they love is worth more than all the money in the world.

You see, I used to think that anyone without wealth lacked any ambition. And although this is sometimes true, I’ve found people who don’t care much for attaining such status at all. They are happy. And they do have enough money to retire because there are no grand plans of Caribbean cruises, luxury resorts, hot Italian sports cars and penthouse suites. They have wonderful families, close friends and live under moderate yet pleasant circumstances. That’s they’re “happy”.

I remember watching a scene from the movie “The Notebook”, where Noah, tired of all Allie’s preconditions to what everyone else may think of her, yells “Would you stop thinking about what everyone wants? Stop thinking about what I want, what he wants, what your parents want. What do YOU want? What do you WANT?”

It’s a powerful moment, because it’s one that we should all ask ourselves every day. What is it that we really want? What makes us happy?

It may be our families, friends, colleagues, teammates, students, or staff. It may be our ambitions, our desire to be somebody, to impress, to stand-out, to be acknowledged. Or it could be the simple desire to make better for someone else, to change the world for good and leave it at least a drop better than how it was when we got here.

“Most People are just talkers. All they got is talk. But when all’s said and done, it’s the doers who change the world. And when they do that, they change us. That’s why we never forget them. So, which one are you? Do you just talk about it? Or do you stand up and do something about it? Because believe you me all the rest of it is just coffee house bullshit.” – Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day

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