Imagine you’re listening to someone expressing the predicament of “having too much money”.
Internally, you’re rolling your eyes while secretly wishing you had the same problem.
Seriously, the audacity of it all, right?
Turns out having too much money is some rich people’s legitimate quandary.
Rich parents who grew up in a poor household.
The kind where days went without food, running water or electricity.
Landing on the wrong side of a dice, they had faced a hard life, earning their keep from an early age.
Value of Money and Hard Work
So it’s not surprising that they have grown up with life’s two great lessons embedded in them:
The value of money and hard work.
The lessons enabled them to amass wealth and success.
Now picture them trying to teach the same lessons to their kids who, straight out of mum’s womb, have been given everything on a plate.
The kids know their parents are rich: the parents can’t tell them (like their parents did):
We can’t afford x, y and z.
It would be a lie and the kids know it.
So the dilemma of rich parents having too much money.
They don’t know how to teach what they learned to their kids: the value of money, work ethic, satisfaction they can get from their own making and self-worth that comes with it.
The kids don’t know what desperation feels like. Their parents are so rich the kids never have to work.
They don’t understand why some people have two jobs. Or any job.
You wouldn’t be wrong to say: they’re spoiled.
But it’s not just them.
If you think about how far we’ve come and the increased living standard compared to our parents’, we’re collectively spoiled.
In today’s world, almost everything is instant.
We have more resources available than ever.
Yet, we hardly pay attention to electronic gadgets or blaring lights switched on unattended in our home or office.
No one reprimands you for not switching off a light when you’re the last person to leave the room.
It’s easy to say rich kids are spoiled.
But so are we.
We’re way too comfortable. We have way too much of everything.
$1 a Day on Food
When Elon Musk was 17 years old, he experimented to live on $1 on food a day.
That’s equivalent of $50 a month in today’s money.
Putting this into perspective, according to USDA, in 2018, American household spent an average of $342 a month on food for a low-income household and an average of $1,112 a month on food for their counterpart.
In 2018, households in the lowest income quintile spent an average of $4,109 on food, representing 35.1 percent of income, while households in the highest income quintile spent an average of $13,348 on food, representing 8.2 percent of income.
In his talk with DeGrasse Tyson, Elon Musk said:
My threshold for existing is pretty low. So I figured I could be in some dingy apartment with my computer and be okay and not starve.
He wanted to know what it would take to live.
In America, it’s pretty easy to keep yourself alive.
These days, it seems unfathomable to live with a survival mentality.
Perhaps that’s why a survival mentality is exactly what we need.
Maybe that’s the only way we can learn that we don’t need a lot to survive, and everything we thought we couldn’t live without was nothing but an illusion stemmed from having too much of everything.
Survival mentality makes us fearless.
Knowing that you can survive at the bare minimum makes you feel confident to pursue your dream like Elon Musk did.
Because, no matter what happens or how things turn out, you know you’ll be okay.
You know you can survive. You know it takes very little to do so.
In a time of challenging situation, you don’t recoil in fear. When you fail, you spring back up.
You’ve lived your worst.
What else is there to be afraid of?
In whichever way you look, it’s hard to find the evidence we’re worse off than our parents or grandparents.
Because truly, we’re in the greatest time of history anyone can hope for.
In a moment’s notice, we can take off, land on the other side of the world and experience other culture while keeping in touch with friends and family a few clicks away.
When we learn to live on the bare minimum, you know you can survive anywhere in the world.
Practising to live on practically nothing can bring out the true courage within you and make you fearless in the pursuit of your dreams.
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