Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Money and the sense of deprivation

A lot of people I encounter constantly crib about money. They go on and on about how expensive everything is, how they can't afford this, that and the other. How they have to work so hard etc. etc. Mind you, all these people are at least middle-class. They are definitely not poor by any means. Strangely enough, I've encountered much less cribbing from people who would really be considered poor or near the poverty line. (Or maybe I have but I don't think of it as cribbing but as genuine financial need). Even among the wealthier folks this complaining has increased astronomically in recent years compared to when we were growing up.

Prices certainly have increased. But then so have salaries. The kind of money available in metropolitan India for anyone even remotely well-qualified is . We are able to afford cars, travel, luxury goods, and even homes waaay before our parents and grandparents could. Then why are people dissatisfied? I think it's because of a growing sense of entitlement and materialism. Everyone wants "the good life" and what's more, feels deprived if they can't have it. It's the sense of deprivation that I can't understand and what's more don't sympathise with.

You would think that otherwise intelligent people would realise what they're doing to themselves and stop it. I believe that cliched though it may sound, money does not buy happiness. I'm not saying that one should have no financial goals whatsoever. But there is a difference between feeling, "I have enough, though I'd like more" vs. feeling "I'm underpaid", "I could be so much happier if I made more", "It's not fair". It's the difference between being rich and feeling rich. It is difficult to ever be rich because the more one gets the more one's aspirations and expectations increase. However, if you feel that you are rich, it frees you from a lot of heartburn and worry. I hope I'll always feel rich.

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