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Nov 02, 2022
The rush I received when my mother handed me my first dollar was unlike anything I had ever felt before.
To paint the picture, I was a pest as a kid. I loved getting on people’s nerves and unfortunately for my poor mother, my sights were usually set on her. I would play this game where essentially; I would repeatedly make high-pitched, excruciatingly loud bird-like sounds while running around our two-family duplex. Imagine the most obnoxious sound in the world and I’m sure mine was worse. Finally, my mom had enough. She told me, “For every five minutes you don’t make that sound I will pay you a dollar.” I wasn’t sure if this was a trick or not, but I decided to give it a shot. When the five minutes were up, she held her end of the bargain and handed me a crisp dollar and the rush I got was better than any sugar high I had previously received. “Again!” I yelled. I shut up for the rest of the day.
Human civilization has always had some sort of currency. Bartering goods transformed into exchanging gold which ultimately led to paper money and cryptocurrency. These forms of payment could buy us anything from an apple to a helicopter but why? How did these coins and pieces of paper become so valuable? How come when I was just a little kid, I received a surge of happiness from just a single dollar bill?
Can money buy happiness? The obvious answer is no, however, healthcare does cost money and if you want to be truly happy the key is to keep your body and mind in good shape. You might be saying to yourself, “Didn’t you just say that when your mother gave you a dollar to shut up, you instantly became happy?” Yes, but she didn’t buy it. All human beings have a dopamine release when they are in pursuit of some sort of reward. In this case, a dollar. What was really happening was that I was chasing something. Not necessarily the dollar but the game. Think of the classic children’s show Tom & Jerry. Tom the cat is always chasing Jerry the mouse but when he does finally catch Jerry, what does he do? Chases him again. Yes, this is a show for kids but look around at all the millionaires and billionaires doing the same exact thing.
Of course, having a little extra cash in your pocket will put a smile on our faces but do me a favor and think about a negative memory. Let’s say one where you injured yourself. For example, a few years ago I had one too many cocktails and when I was walking to the subway station, I took a nasty spill down a flight of stairs. An hour later the medics cast my broken wrist and diagnosed me with a concussion. The part I didn’t mention is that I was out celebrating a new job I just landed, a position that was paying significantly more than my previous role. All the happiness that I was feeling from the dollar signs floating around my head had suddenly disappeared. Lying in bed, body aching, disoriented, and swollen, all I could think to myself is how much I wanted to be healthy and that there was no amount of money that could purchase it.
Wealth can solve many problems but is it actually healthy to be wealthy? It’s a complicated question but let’s explore the pros and cons.
You’re rich! That’s awesome for you and now you can live the life you’ve always dreamed of. Fancy cars, expensive clothing, and lavish vacations to Ibiza. For the first year, you party your ass off like the rock stars and movie gods you’ve always worshiped, burning through your money because, well… you have so much of it that spending it in bulk amounts has become a new sport for you. Congrats, you are officially part of the 1%, and all of us peasants working our nine-to-five jobs are watching from the sidelines, drooling with envy.
Let’s rewind back to reality. You aren’t filthy rich, don’t drive a Rolls Royce, and unfortunately can’t afford that island off the coast of Milan. So what? You have a great group of friends, a tight-knit family, and a job with a decent salary. There’s nothing wrong with that in fact, you should be proud of yourself! But let’s say you get fired. You’re completely blind-sided and have not saved up nearly enough to afford unemployment. You soon find your life beginning to spiral along with your health.
Many studies have shown that unemployment or lack of savings can lead to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, weight gain, and more. Most of us are not egregiously wealthy which is why it’s significantly more important to pay attention to the cons and how they may affect you. It’s easy to compare ourselves to those we are jealous of but don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap of the never-ending game of Look at What They Have and What I Don’t. This is a recipe for disaster and is only going to make your mental health worse.
So, what do you do? Think back to Tom & Jerry. The game is what filled Tom with joy. The chase. It’s not the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that we truly seek but the adventure that takes us there. In life what matters most is our health and the health of our loved ones. Yes, obviously being filthy rich, flying in Jet planes, and popping bottles of Dom Perignon sounds exciting but at the end of the day, we know that the best things in life are free. At the end of the day if you are going to spend your money on something, invest in your health so you can outlive the rich and create your own wealth through love and human connection.
I suppose it’s a platitude to say that health is the best wealth, but think of this: The only true currency (besides the secret currency of dopamine which makes us go chasing ghosts) is – time. Time, as we know, is relative: It shrinks and expands, depending on the observer. Time is subjective, and time is limited. How much time each of us has left on this planet? We can’t know that, but we can estimate that, all other things being equal, our longevity (our remaining time to enjoy life) is directly proportionate to our health. If we keep ourselves healthy, enjoy good food and active lifestyle, we may expect to live longer than if we ruin our health with bad habits and poor choices. And even though contemporary medicine can extend life, we would probably prefer to be strong, robust and of clear mind well into our eighties or nineties, rather than exist in misery and pain for decades thanks to medication.
Taking care of our health (and therefore, of our ability to enjoy life and, ultimately, of our time) is the matter of now. Improve just one thing about your lifestyle today, take it even slightly in the direction of healthier living – and you will become objectively richer, because your “money in the bank” (the time you have left in this world) will increase. And I implore you, please don’t forget to get your health checked at regular intervals. Do it today. Remember: What will be, already is. You want to get your possible health issues of the future taken care of today, before then even happen.
Here’s a link to Chai Care’s list of urgent care locations – pick the one closest to you and go get your health screening! You’ll thank me later for giving you the best investment advice!
* Legal disclaimer: The content of this article and the entire Chai Care blog is for educational purposes only; it does NOT constitute medical advice and must not be considered as such. Please consult a medical professional regarding any symptoms or health concerns you or your loved ones.
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