When I worked part time in high school I couldn’t wait to earn a bigger paycheck; in college I so desperately wanted more money I worked full time with a full course load; after college I worked two jobs for several years just to make more money; and when I finally got a job that paid more than my last two combined I quit my parttime waitressing gig. Now that I don’t have to work seven days a week I try to enjoy myself, and a larger bank balance allows for such enjoyment. Yet at some point people must stop focusing on their financial gains and shift their attention to what’s important: health, family, friends, and maintaining a roof over your head. I love that I no longer have to drive a car with a dent in the bumper or always eat grilled cheese. In fact now I enjoy ‘gourmet’ grilled cheese, as in bye bye Kraft and hello Sargento.
Some of the happiest people I know live paycheck to paycheck, squirreling away money for a rainy day (or car repairs); some of the richest people I know are unbelievably miserable, always trying to achieve a level of happiness through financial gain. Don’t get me wrong: the more zeros in my bank account the happier I am overall. However when you choose to only be happy when you’re swimming in money then you choose to not be happy when your funds are low. Like this well to do gentleman:
I would give up mascara for a year just for the opportunity to live and work in Manhattan. People who set high goals often attain them, but for many it’s not enough. They want it all, and the more you spend the more you need to feel satisfied. In the end it’s really just common sense, something those with many degrees sometimes lack.
Before anyone with a few Doctorates under their belt attacks me, rest assured I lack so much common sense that I often get lost in my own apartment. And I only have an Associate’s degree.
You’ll never find me hugging a tree because they have bugs, but it’s cheaper to have a picnic than go to a restaurant; you may find me at the dollar store but I’ll never check in there on Facebook; and I am partial to high-end cosmetics like M.A.C. but have been known to purchase No. 7 and Cover Girl. Life is about balance and dealing the hand you are dealt.
“I’m not Zen at all, and when I’m freaking out about the situation, where I’m stuck like a rat in a trap on a highway with no way to get out, it’s very hard,” Schiff, director of marketing for broker-dealer Euro Pacific Capital Inc., said in an interview.
Schiff, 46, is facing another kind of jam this year: Paid a lower bonus, he said the $350,000 he earns, enough to put him in the country’s top 1 percent by income, doesn’t cover his family’s private-school tuition, a Kent, Connecticut, summer rental and the upgrade they would like from their 1,200-square- foot Brooklyn duplex.
“I feel stuck,” Schiff said. “The New York that I wanted to have is still just beyond my reach.”
The New York I live in is a few hours upstate, but I’m fully aware of the one he refers to. Since my first visit to the city as a young teenager I’ve wanted to call it my home, and perhaps someday I will. But in this economy I can’t understand why anyone with a six-figure income would have a hard time feeling ‘Zen.’ Maybe he should consider going on a Buddhist retreat or seeing a mental therapist; maybe he does both. If both of those still don’t work then I suggest he play The Sims, where he can build and control his own city. Maybe when he steps away from the game and views his surroundings with fresh eyes his perspective will change.
More money, more problems. I’m sure even Warren Buffett repeats this mantra.