Recently, I read a quotation from philosopher Eric Hoffer that grabbed me with its simplicity. Consider his thought: "Our frustration is greater when we have much and want more than when we have nothing and want some."
In other words, the more we have the more we want, and with greater determination. The mindset that "there is never too much" is more likely to infect someone who is already starting with an overflowing basket.
I find that both depressing, and very true. In most instances, human nature is pretty predictable. In our developed economies the acquisition of stuff, the accumulation of power or influence, and the desire to ascend the social totem pole drive too many of us too much of the time.
What compels this imbalance in our personality? Is it nature or nurture? Did the way we were raised in regard to money and possessions shape us? Or, does our daily barrage of social media, advertising, and peer pressure warp our values over time? Do we even notice the pressures all around us to conform and do our part to support the economy?
I don't pretend to know the answers. But, one of my weekly writing prompts produced some questions that might help us get a firmer handle on what is going on. I will give you my personal reaction to a few of them, and then ask you to add your experiences and thoughts.
What do you remember your family saying about money during family conversations? I grew up in a comfortable, middle-class suburban household. Therefore, money was rarely talked about. I know my dad struggled with steady employment for much of his working years. But, my mom's teaching kept things steady and any financial problems were never discussed in front of the three boys. We were not a family that spent much on non-basics, though a yearly family vacation was normal.
I heard occasional stories of life during the Great Depression. I know my dad had to sell vegetables door-to-door to help support his family; an orange was a typical Christmas present. I picked up the idea of avoiding the power of instant gratification through examples but not formal instruction. Financial basics through osmosis were more like it.What is your first memory of making money for yourself? How did it feel? I guess I was born with an entrepreneurial streak. I remember having a paper route early on. Living in Ohio at the time, winters were cold, long, and snowy. My route started at least a mile from my home at the bottom of a long hill from our home. Instead of bags over my shoulders, sometimes dragging a wagon filled with papers was required