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You Can’t Always Get What You Want. So Maybe You Should Want Less.

Topics: Lifestyle & Culture | 2 CommentsBy admin | February 28, 2010

Half of you think you’ll be rich someday, but one third of the world is content with two dollars a day. Could you be?


From need to want less. Some images
are also available as prints here.

Could you live on two dollars a day? Well, according to the book Portfolios of the Poor, that’s exactly what a third of the world’s population does. On the surface, those numbers probably sound appalling and evoke sympathy, but if you look a little deeper (this Prospect Magazine piece does a nice summary) you’ll realize that these people are really kind of doing okay. What makes taking a closer look at these lives interesting is the insight you’ll gain into how the rest of the world has to manage their money, not how much less they have proportionally. Imagine, for instance, having to pay interest on your savings, rather than the other way around. I’ve been a bit obsessed with the experience of poverty the last few years, partly because I live in a country where – while billionaire bankers worry about their million dollar bonuses – one in eight citizens is struggling to eat or living in a tent. But also partly because I’ve made some poor business decisions that have thrown me into that two-dollar-a-day camp at points. The irony of being a motivated and reasonably intelligent person who occasionally doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from has made me rethink things quite a bit, and caused me to ponder what happiness means pretty regularly. And the conclusion I’ve reached is that while being broke sucks, it doesn’t mean you have to be unhappy. I know that sounds a like a Disney “poverty is okay” message, but it really isn’t. Finding out what you really want and what you really need is a lesson worth learning, because although half of you think you’ll be rich someday, less than one percentĀ  will be. Oh. Unless you run for congress, in which case your odds are considerably better.

Read Comments

  1. Posted by TeacherPatti on 03.01.10 9:49 pm

    One of the hardest things about growing up is when you have to realize that you aren’t going to be rich and famous. I know people who are my age (late 30s) and STILL think that. I mean, sure, you might invent a computer gadget, win the lottery, or magic monkeys might crawl out your ass and shit gold–but don’t count on it. As you said, be happy with what you got.

  2. Posted by admin on 03.02.10 9:54 am

    So true. And I have to say that if being rich requires magic monkeys crawling out of my ass, I’ll stick with what I’ve got.
    ;)