Over the years, as a practising financial planner, columnist, public speaker and guest on TV shows, I have observed/interacted with individuals and families from varied backgrounds. They hail from different strata of income, educational qualification, family background, cultural upbrings and beliefs. All the interactions, to begin with, revolve around issues concerning money. The topmost layer is money. However, simply by scratching the surface a little, it is evident that the issue is more that of the mind. It is the mind which throws up different kinds of emotions.
These emotions are manifestations of latent impressions we have about the way we should live and lead life. For example, the way we celebrate our birthday so that we will be happy could be dependent on: (i) this is the way I want to celebrate (ii) this is the way everybody does it these days (iii) what will people think if I do not celebrate it this way.
The first one is an independent decision. It is absolute. It will give maximum joy. However, there is catch here. While saying/thinking, “This is the way I want to celebrate, and hence I will do it”, there should not be a tint of arrogance, as in “I like it so I will do it, I don’t care what others feel.” Arrogance is a manifestation of ego and inferiority complex. Feelings will be extremely subtle and hence difficult to catch within us.
The second decision comes more from our surroundings. It is more in conformation of the social norms we are surrounded by. Based on each individual’s surrounding at a point in time, it will change. This is dynamic. It may give happiness for some time. Happiness is more because we conform to social norms. However, if this form of celebration does not conform to our innermost self, if at all there is discord between the innermost self and our surroundings, then there may not be happiness. Since the decision we take is relative to something else, our happiness will be short-lived. This is because it is taken in relation to what others are doing.
The last decision is out of fear. This will not give happiness at all. No one except our own self will be able to say from what state of mind we are behaving. To each one his/her own.
As I kept observing reactions of individuals/families, I realised that in many instances, individual and families are not enjoying wealth. Lack of enjoyment had nothing to do with strata of income and/or level of wealth. The wealthy could be reacting out of fear of “What will people feel if I do not celebrate my birthday in this particular manner.” On the other hand, someone from a middle class income background could be saying: “I like celebrating this way, and hence I will do it.” The reaction could be vice-versa also, with the very wealthy saying: "I like to celebrate this way and hence I will do it," and someone from middle income strata thinking: “What will people feel if I do not celebrate in a particular manner?”
Somewhere, to get more insight into the behaviour, I started looking at scriptures, and bravo, answers started coming. The most prominent answer was that there is no right or wrong way. If it gives happiness to an individual, it is right for him. As long as there is no harm created to anyone else, either physically, verbally or emotionally, it is fine. On the other hand, if there is absence of happiness, it is time to look within.
It is about enjoying the wealth we have, in a manner we like, and not in relation to anyone. Absolute joy cannot be relative. Scriptures talk about absolute joy. Scriptures are not against wealth. Scriptures are for enjoying wealth in calm, serene and respectful ways.
By the way, scriptures talk about four kinds of wealth. Physical wealth (our health), social wealth (relationship with the spouse, family, friends, acquaintances and society in general), emotional wealth, and financial wealth. Only when all of the above are in harmony will we have blissful life–absolute joy. Yogic Wealth.
Gaurav Mashruwala is the author of Yogic Wealth: The Wealth That Gives Bliss