What does money actually measure?

I grew up believing that money was a measure of how good your decisions were. You went to school, got a good job, and earned a good income. It was apparent that some people did well than others based on things like their people skills, but money was still a reliable indicator of how well you did.

Then I learned that the way you achieved true success is by owning a business, since you could never have true financial security working for someone else. I learned that the A students worked for the C students, and it was the C students who generally achieved true financial success.

But starting a business is no guarantee. There are many people who have started a business and done all the right things, but for reasons that are out of their control did not achieve the kind of success they wanted. Nowadays, it can be difficult just to get the working capital to run a business, and the economic conditions that have caused this are (for the most part) not the fault of the small business.

Those who have achieved a high level of financial success, all too often have achieved it because they had the right product at the right time, or otherwise got lucky. I'm not saying they didn't have to work for it, but many others have worked as hard, but for whatever reasons didn't achieve the financial success that they wanted.

Ultimately, with the economy being disrupted by financial institutions, and the government endlessly and arbitrarily shifting wealth, the notion a level playing field and the ability to earn money based on your worth almost seems like a hopelessly antiquated notion.

So when someone earns a lot of money, what does that dollar figure actually mean? If it doesn't represent how smart you are or how hard you work or making the right decisions, then what does it represent?

asked 20 Mar '10, 19:46

Vesuvius's gravatar image


edited 20 Mar '10, 19:51

Oh, my! If someone measured me based on financial wealth, they'd say I was a failure, indeed. That is why you cannot judge a person based on his or her bank account.

In the end, when I stand before God on that day, I want to be able to hear from God that He thinks I lived a successful life. I cannot carry my money to heaven, anyway! Jesus said this about treasures:

Do not store up for yourself treasures on Earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasure in Heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy,and where thieves do ot break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6: 19-21

Money is a very nice thing to have, I do not deny it. I wish I had some, for I have a stack of bills a mile high from all the illness I have suffered. So if you saw that stack of bills, and thought to yourself, well, she has no money, so she is not a success, you might be right; but- you might also be very wrong. Success has a lot more to do with the kind of person you are, in my eyes.

I think the world overvalues wealth. When the depression hit in 1929, people jumped out of windows rather than face poverty. That is sad. Some of the world's most successful people died with no money at all, but plenty of treasure in Heaven.

Are you kind? Do you drop everything to help a troubled teen? Are you gracious with what you do have? Do you share? For if you do, you are a success to me. Do you say grace and thank you to God? Do you visit the sick? Do you treat your friends better than your banker? If you have two of something, and your sister has none, do you give one to your sister? Then you are a success.

Success is going to bed with a peaceful heart, no matter where you lay your head. Success is feeling joy at another person's luck, and rejoicing, even if you have no luck of your own.

Why do I say these things? Because I know from experience that when I was near death last year, I did not think of my bank account. I thought of the wrongs I had done, and vowed to make things right. I thought of those who were not as lucky as me to have hope- those with terminal cancer, those in tremendous pain, those who were surrounded by wealth, yet were still empty, longing for something, but not knowing what. When I stand before God, I would like Him to say, "Here is all your treasure; you have done well." That is what God cares about and wants His children to do.

The secret to wealth is beyond me, and I am not sure I want to know it. But I do want to know the secret to keeping friends, and loving my enemies.

Then I will be truly a success.


answered 21 Mar '10, 00:03

Jaianniah's gravatar image


Thank you, Jai, for revealing so beautiful, your heart. "The true measure of your wealth, is how much you value, if you would lose all your money and goods". - Anonymous. I agree with you.

(22 Mar '10, 01:30) Gleam

I know your response came from the heart, and thank you for sharing it with us!

(23 Mar '10, 00:25) LeeAnn 1

We often have to remind ourselves that money and possession are illusions and artificial constructs of man. Mother nature gives everything for free. What we really trade is our labour time of harvesting and processing her resources. And we need a means of excange only because we don't trust each other, we're greedy because we want to 'possess' more than others, and we're envious if someone has to 'work' less than we do.

When we can do what we love to do because it is our innate nature, then we don't ask for anything in return. We are fulfilled because we see that our work satisfies the needs of others, gives them meaning, nurtures them (actually or figuratively) and makes them grateful and happy. In such a world, there wouldn't be any need for representations of units of value like a currency, because we can't measure love.

Instead however, we have created an economic system based on our fears and egos. Many individuals can't find a way to do what they love to do because they have to struggle for survival, and also there might be no 'market' for what they can offer because others are distracted by ego struggles too.

Because most of us in the here and now are therefore forced to do things we don't love to and we thus depend on receiving something in return, we have a vicious circle, which spiralled out to create what is our economic system today. It pretty much follows principles of chaos theory. But it seems we chose to play this game, so maybe after all it's a good opportunity to train our intuition.

Being part of this chaotic system, we must concede that we don't have any control over it. We can't even completely understand how it works, we can't analyze it or break it down into models (only to some degree, and central banks often have to apply 'corrections'), because as with every chaotic system, there are too many unknowns in the equations. What we can do is go with the flow and train our intuition, as said. Because we're only able to process a tiny fraction of information consciously, much information will be absorbed at a subconscious or even unconscious level.

The A students might be thinking too much and be too rational to be able to dive down and access that level. Because they know they're smart, they often stand in their own light because they believe they know all there is to know. Some C students however might for whatever reason have talent in processing subliminal information and take appropriate action, and therefore they might eventually be at the right time at the right place. Often when asked they can't give a 'rational' reason for a particular action or decision they made which turned out to be very successful.

That said, I think there are also counterexamples. I'm sure Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google Inc., were pretty much A students. Also Bill Gates has always given me a pretty nerdy impression, albeit with a quite pragmatic, practical focus. I think these are examples for individuals who could very well combine the analytical with the intuitive, the right brain half with the left brain half, the active with the receptive, the masculine with the feminine.


answered 21 Mar '10, 11:59

herzmeister's gravatar image


edited 21 Mar '10, 12:14

Great answer :-)

(21 Mar '10, 12:50) Michaela

Be Thankful You Are Alive Even though the world is in turmoil these days, there still is something on this list for everyone to be thankful for. Read it through and see what works for you. All of us can find something in our lives to know that things aren't as bad as they could be.

Count Your Blessings

If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep. . .

you are richer than 75 percent of this world.

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish some place. . .

you are among the top 8 percent of the world's wealthy.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness. . .

you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation. . .

you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.

If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death. . .

you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.

If your parents are still alive and still married. . .

you are very rare, even in the United States.

If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful. . .

you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.

If you can hold someone's hand, hug them or even touch them on the shoulder. . .

you are blessed because you can offer healing touch.

If you can read this message,

you just received a double blessing in that someone was thinking of you,

you are wealthy enough to have an internet connection and power on,

and furthermore,

you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world that cannot read at all.

Have a good day, count your blessings, and pass this along to remind everyone else how blessed we all are.

Author Unknown


answered 21 Mar '10, 08:29

Wade%20Casaldi's gravatar image

Wade Casaldi

Money is important for commerce. Before money the barter system was used. The main point though is that for commerce to occur there has to be something to transact with. In that context money is important and serves a worthwhile purpose. We can question the value of anything that exists in the physical world. For example you can ask what is the value of a car? Well it serves the purpose of transporation. In that same manner we can look at money. In and of itself its nothing.

However, I agree with the others that from a spiritual perspective it does not really matter because we know that we can manifest anything with just our thougths and with no money. So from this perspective it does not matter.


answered 22 Mar '10, 22:24

Drham's gravatar image


First you must ask: "What is Success?" Success is a goal that you define as an individual. Success may be:

  • Understand the fundamentals of economics, allowing you to collect currency
  • Develop inner peace in the face of all of life challenges
  • Have children, procreate
  • Have a beautiful spouse
  • Have a beautiful house
  • Develop a detachment from everything material to reduce suffering from unending desire
  • Make 1000 people smile every month
  • Get 1 million people to give you $1 so that you can build something to improve life for yourself and others
  • Conquer your Ego's hold on your mind

So you see, we have a lot of different definitions for success.

In some of these definitions, having a lot of money IS a very real measure for success. In most of them, money is just a tool you use.

But when you boil this question down, we really measure success by the level of consistent happiness we feel at any given moment. Whether we have money or not, our level of happiness is a much more indicator that we're on the path we chose.

  • How do I feel right now?
  • Do I feel calm and relaxed in this moment?
  • Am I waiting for something, and not an ease?

These are the question that will help you.

Breathing deeply/slowly and focusing on that breath ignoring the rest of the world at this moment... will help you.


answered 01 Mar '11, 20:25

adam2's gravatar image


Yes, it's a false measure, as you've stated yourself. The true question here is the second: what it actually measure.

The money you've got is nothing but a material representation of how much people value you, even if unintentionally. That's what it measures. The "unintentional" part is really key here. People will give you money for something you've got and they want just because it's shiny or new. In that case they're not really consciously paying you, but that's what happens in the end.

Nowadays luck is a highly valuable thing. Maybe because nobody can really understand how it works. People can get rich overnight just by being lucky at a lottery pick. Again, we're unintentionally rewarding the lucky one by trying our own luck.

Another thing highly valuable is creativity, and also nobody really knows where it comes from.

And so on.


answered 20 Mar '10, 22:43

Cawas's gravatar image


Measuring a life by their publicity value is a part of the celebrity meltdown syndrome, (or the PTSD syndrome of soldiers) where their worth is equal to their utility to the organization or group to which they belong.

People were meant to be valued for their attributes, intellect, self discipline and perspective, for its own sake, so they maintain self esteem and self respect. When valued for their "ratings," their lives are reduced to ratings, and they lose self respect and self esteem. When soldiers are treated as "suits," ie., warm bodies to be placed in the line of fire, they are shown they have no value except to the military for that purpose.

It steals whatever self esteem, self confidence, and self respect the person arrived with to be treated so shabbily, whether by a board of trustees, or a military council, or a body of Congress.


answered 01 Mar '11, 12:20

Pat%202's gravatar image

Pat 2

Ballplayers measured by the success of their next throw is inherently unhealthy an attitude for society to promote.

There is an economic line which, if crossed, takes away personal success rather than adding to it; it is the law of diminishing returns that operates to disrupt the incentive value of money.


answered 01 Mar '11, 12:23

Pat%202's gravatar image

Pat 2

If having a lot of money is a goal to be obtained by an individual or a collective group then yes, by definition you have succeeded in your goal.

Success is only measured by obtaining a certain goal.

When someones asks me "Am I successful" I respond with the question "Successful at what?"

Having money only measures the fact that you have the ability to obtain it.


answered 01 Mar '11, 21:42

you's gravatar image


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