3 May 2019

"I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it's not the answer."
—Jim Carey, comedian, actor

Last week we looked at the story of Matthew Emmons, the sharp shooting Olympian, who lost the gold in the 2004 Olympics because he accidentally shot at another shooter’s target. Unfortunately, the story does not end there. Four years later at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, he was in a very similar situation. He had the lead going into the 10th and final shot and again a simple hit of the target would result in winning the competition. Once again a gold medal was expected by the crowd. As he lined up his scope on the target and began to prepare to shoot, his finger accidentally hit the trigger and the gun shot prematurely, hitting the target but missing enough that the gold once again slipped through his hands.

A second target that we mistakenly shoot for in life and encourage our children to aim for is that of money. It is logical in some sense. If we think getting stuff, new cars, jewelry, clothes, houses, etc., will make us happy then being able to get more stuff should obviously make us more happy.

Unfortunately, like the target we talked about last week, shooting for money is also the wrong target. More money for more stuff does not result in more happiness. Actually the opposite. The science is clear on this, more money does not make you happier. Princeton did a study on this topic and found that money is subject to the law of diminishing returns. Once you have enough money to provide for your needs, having more money than that actually leads to less happiness. In this study they actually were able to identify the point where the law begins to take effect. In the U.S. it was at the upper middle class amount of $75,000 a year.

The problem is that the world, and all the advertising in it, screams at us and our children – you need more money! Some of us even pursued careers and jobs simply because of the money we could make because we bought into this idea. Jim Carey, the comedian and movie star, at the height of his career when he was making 20 million dollars a movie, made this incredibly powerful statement, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”

Money will never satisfy us. There are millionaires and billionaires out there working 80 hour weeks trying to make more. The scary thing, however, is that we know from surveys done recently that 81% of millennials say that getting rich is one of their main goals in life.

Once again we are mistakenly encouraging our kids to shoot for the wrong target. We need to stop promoting the idea that lots of money is a key ingredient needed to have a happy life. We need to start pointing them to a different target. We will look at and discuss what it is next week.

Written by Karl Steinkamp

Karl Steinkamp is passionate about Dalat International School and training up young people. Karl was a student at Dalat and returned with a degree in education as a student teacher, high school principal, and now Head of School since 2006.
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