A common cause of relationship and family problems is money. Even if you get along well with others, friction can still exist if there is a financial aspect to an issue (more often due to lack of money). In fact, a lot of issues in the world are money problems.
But there are problems that are not about money. If you or a loved one got afflicted with a disease that has no cure, no amount of money can afford you the medicine, as it doesn’t exist (yet). Once you lose your family or friends, they cannot be brought back regardless of your wealth. If your relationship with someone reaches a breaking point, money alone cannot get it back to the way it were.
Thus, there are financial problemsand there are life problems. To qualify them further:
Financial problems are problems that can be solved by money.
Life problems are problems that cannot be solved just by money.
This distinction is important as it highlights one truth:
If you have a problem that money can solve, then you really don’t have a problem.
It’s a controversial take, and something that would raise some eyebrows. “You have no idea what I am going through!“, you may retort. That may be true, but acquiring money is within your capability, and therefore the means of overcoming it as well. The solution is also not scarce: money is the ultimate renewable resource.
Money isn’t real, and it is not scarce. Central banks even create money out of essentially nothing, but we are so focused on the lack of it as if all the wealth in the world is a zero-sum game. Others have it all, so none of it is left for me! It is very easy for us to zoom in on things that we lack, than the things that we have plenty of.
To illustrate that we have the means to acquire money, and so can solve money problems, here is a common example.
Imagine that your child is terminally ill, but there is a medicine that will cure the disease. The catch is, the medicine costs more than your current net worth. As a parent, do you just give up, blaming your bad luck and shake your fist at the heavens? Of course not! You roll up your sleeves, work multiple jobs if you can, and swallow your pride by asking for help. If push comes to shove, we know how to get the money.
Now let’s twist it a little bit. Your child is still terminally ill, but it is for a disease that has no cure. You can’t even purchase a medicine for it. In this case, you will still do the things above, trying to make your child as comfortable as possible while hoping for the best.
Which of these scenarios you think is a real problem? Anyone would choose to have the first situation and not the latter. When comparing these two, the gap between money problems and life problems becomes clearer.
Our creativity in solving our problems shines when we are backed in a corner. We have the ability to solve our money problems, but sometimes we (subconsciously) do not want to do so:
- We engage in destructive financial habits like accumulating bad debt
- Bad spending and saving habits
- Not taking advantage of our full earning potential
If something can be solved by money, then a solution is also within our grasp. While this situation sucks, it is not the end of the world.
The impact can be eliminated or minimized
Financial problems have this characteristic wherein we can minimize or eliminate its impact. Insurance products exist for this sole purpose. Different types can be used depending on what impact we are looking to reduce or eliminate.
- Life insurance gives your loved ones some breathing room financially on the event of death
- Medical insurance reduces the impact of hospital and medical bills
- Property insurance provides options to re-acquire assets if the the one you own gets destroyed
- Liability insurance protects you from financial losses from third-party claims
Having an emergency fund and savings also minimize the impact of financial problems.
Problems that cannot be solved by money are defined earlier as life problems. This is much more difficult to deal with, and unlike money problems, can be hard (if not impossible) to eliminate.
So how do we deal with these types of problems?
Develop and acquire a philosophy in life
Problems are a part of life. Ask the richest or the most successful person in the world if they still have problems, and they will certainly say yes. These challenges exist so we know ourselves better, but can also break us if we are not careful. To help us deal with this reality and not lose hope, we can turn to philosophy. A philosophy in life, like Stoicism, is a framework on how to live. Having a framework like this helps us to look into events into their proper perspective, instead of having our emotions go berserk whenever we encounter problems.
Many things are beyond our control. Concepts such as premeditatio malorum and amor fati allows us to prepare for life problems and also to accept whatever may come, both good and bad.
Stop obsessing what goes beyond the wall
Another way to handle the troubles and stresses of life is by living in day-tight compartments. This means our thoughts and efforts should only be on the current day, and not let the past or the future dictate how we feel in the present. This is quite difficult to do, as evidenced by the prevalent anxiety, stress, and depression around the world.
In order to deal with our problems, we should not add more to our burdens by worrying about the future or reliving the pain of the past. In the parable of the two arrows of suffering, while the event itself is painful, we add more to the pain by our anxieties and worries. This is entirely up to us: you can avoid being hit by that second arrow.
Let the past bury itself, and let the future worry about itself. The current day is all we have, and the only moment that we exist. It is enough to deal only with whatever lies in front of us.
Photo by Terry Tran on Unsplash