Throughout history and around the world, men and women have always sought status and recognition. But in the modern era, the yardstick is almost always the same: economic success.
More bluntly, money.
The benefits of money and status are obvious: freedom, resources, comfort, time, attention, and deference. A lack of status, on the other hand — even if it is only perceived — can lead to sadness, anxiety, and even depression.
Our capitalist system thrives on the pursuit of status. Entrepreneurs take elaborate risks in the pursuit of great rewards. Consumers buy superfluous products — especially luxury brands — they believe confer prestige. The pursuit of status motivates us to develop our talents, work hard, demonstrate excellence, and achieve worthy goals.
In today’s increasingly affluent society, however, our ideas about what are “essential” constantly change.
For example, consider the percentage of Americans who believed the following items were necessities in 1970:
If these were nonessential to Americans 45 years ago, why do hundreds of millions consider them necessities today?
It’s not just that these things make our lives easier and more comfortable. Many folks would feel embarrassed or ashamed to be without them.
Our sense of happiness is based on comparing ourselves to others. Unfortunately, that is a guaranteed recipe for unhappiness.
The problem with making economic success the foundation of personal happiness is that a) you cannot control the economy and b) most companies eventually fail. Needless to say, this undermines job security and financial well-being.
While life will always be uncertain, there is a simple and effective cure for status anxiety: changing the way you think.
Every time we feel satisfied with what we have, however little that may be, we can count ourselves rich.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau insisted there are two ways to make a man wealthier: Give him more money or curb his desires. Or, as Socrates declared as he passed the expensive goods on sale in the Athens agora, “How many things I can do without!”
As for other people’s opinions, whether you get the recognition you believe you deserve is out of your control. But if you haven’t done anything that deserves contempt or disrespect, what difference does it make what someone else thinks?
An obsessive pursuit of status may not just be a waste of time. It could be a waste of a life.
About the Author: Alex Green is the author of excellent books like, The Secret of Shelter Island: Money and What Matters, and Beyond Wealth, that show you how to lead a “rich” life during trying economic times.
by Lawrence Powell
I can do this! Those are four little words, but they carry a lot of weight when you choose to do what is right in God’s sight. For instance, Matthew 5:44 tells us to “love your enemies. Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Those commands may seem hard, but 1 John 5:3 tells us, “His commandments are not burdensome.” Let that sink in a moment: His commandments are not burdensome! In other words they are not irksome, oppressive, or grievous!
God does not ask us to do hard things; He asks us to do impossible thingsthings that cannot be done outside of Jesus Christ. But whenever God asks us to do something that is impossible, He also anoints us to do it. He provides the will, the means, and the grace to do everything He commands us to do. His anointing will break through every obstacle we may encounter.
Wayne Stiles said this: “We won’t experience the joy of God’s power if we keep running from impossible situations.” If God asks impossible things of us, He plans to do the impossible for us. God will lead you and guide you in such a way that transformation is the end result. God may allow you to go into a fiery furnace, but you will come out with a testimony, fireproof and triumphant!
What happens when we avoid hard things? The answer is, hard things come to us. Have you ever tried to escape something that was difficult only to run right into it? There’s a class that you’ve got to take in the school of the Holy Spirit, and that is Hard Knocks. But look in the mirror and tell yourself, “I can do this!”
Difficulties arise because we need to learn to confront life from a different perspective that comes with a new set of values. When we walk contrary to the way of the world, there will be difficulties. Our friends won’t understand us. It’s as if we’re speaking a foreign language. We’re talking holiness; they’re talking ungodliness. We’re talking righteousness; they’re talking unrighteousness.
Difficulties also exist for our growth potential. God will stretch us: This can be painful at times, because it requires leaving our comfort zones.
Scripture is full of examples of people who didn’t want to do what God told them to do. Moses struggled with God’s command to confront Pharaoh about freeing the children of Israel. And Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh, so he purchased a ticket to somewhere else. He ended up in the belly of a big fish until he repented. Then God delivered him, and he went on to Nineveh.
Jesus said, “Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls; for My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Note: “My yoke is easy”…but it’s still a yoke. “My burden is light”…but it’s still a burden. The good news is we don’t have to carry it alone.
Here are five things you can do through Christ, when faced with difficulties:
1. Be determined to do God’s will: When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:30-46), He struggled in regards to the bitter cup, wrestling with the purpose that the Father had set out before Him–so much so that blood, like drops of sweat, poured from Him. Yet He said, “Not My will, but Your will be done!”
2. Obey the Lord, no matter how silly or difficult it may appear: In 2 Kings 5:1-14 we read about Naaman, a valiant man, a champion among his people. The Bible says Naaman was a leper. He was also a proud man. He had heard about a prophet in Israel and decided to go to him for a healing. So he left with his entourage to see Elisha and when he arrived at the place where the prophet resided, Elisha didn’t even come out to greet him. Instead, he sent his servant who told him, “Go down and dunk yourself seven times in the Jordan River.” When Naaman heard those words, he was insulted! Dunk in the dirty Jordan? Are there not better, cleaner waters? He was doubly insulted that the Man of God had not come to him personally. But thank God, He always has someone with good sense in the midst! As Naaman turned to depart in his anger, some of his servants said to him, “This is a small thing that the Prophet asks of you, to go, dunk in the water. What have you got to lose?” So Naaman humbled himself and did as he had been instructed by Elisha…and he was healed!
3. Keep your eyes on Jesus: Hebrews 12:1-3 says, “Let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…” Everything within you might be fighting to do the right thing, while everything that is wrong is pulling at you: Tell that person off! Lie to your brother! Cheat on your taxes! But just declare, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” When you keep your eyes on Jesus, you will never go astray!
4. Expect God’s grace to do what God requires: In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul speaks of his thorn in the flesh, a problem that troubled him night and day. He went before the Lord three times and asked, “Take this away from me!” But, instead, the Lord gave Paul a revelation. And that revelation is just as valid for you and me today. God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in your weakness.” God’s got grace for everything you and I might encounter in life. And that grace, my friend, is all sufficient!
5. Enjoy the blessings of faith and obedience: James 1:22-25 says, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” The blessing comes not just by hearing the Word, but by doing it. And when you do the Word, you will enjoy the blessings that come from the Lord!
These principles will help you live victoriously in whatever situation you face. When difficulties come–and they will–stand on the promises of God. Declare “I can do this!”
September 16, 2016
From Bill Bonner, chairman, Bonner & Partners: It’s back to Europe. Back to school. Back to work.
Let’s begin by bringing new readers into the discussion… and by reminding old readers (and ourselves) where we stand.
Small and Lonely Group
As a Diary reader, you join a small and lonely group.
But we know something others don’t.
We—and apparently only we—understand the real cause of our economic malaise.
What malaise, you ask?
Well… how could the richest, most technologically advanced, and most scientifically sophisticated economy stop dead in its tracks?
The rate of economic growth has gone steadily downhill for the last 30 years. By some measures, after accounting for the effects of inflation, we’re back to levels not seen since before the Industrial Revolution.
And how could such a modern, 21st-century economy make the average person poorer?
When you measure actual inflation, rather than the government’s crooked numbers, the median U.S. household income is 20% lower today than when the century began.
And why would our modern economy concentrate wealth in the hands of so few, so that only the richest 1% make any real progress?
You may also ask a question with an obvious answer: Why are the richest and most powerful people in the country overwhelmingly supporting Ms. Clinton in the presidential race?
You find the answer to all these questions the same way: Follow the money.
Ms. Clinton is raising record amounts of money—$80 million in a single month.
Big corporations, banks, military contractors, rich people—all are pitching in to make sure Hillary is our next president.
Because she promises to protect the status quo.
That, of course, is what government always does. A free economy is a precarious place for wealth. It is despised by nearly everyone—especially the rich.
In a truly free market, the process of “creative destruction” can’t be controlled. New wealth is born. Old wealth dies.
Naturally, people with wealth and power try to use government to get more wealth and power… and to stop the creative-destructive process. They want to protect what they’ve got already. That’s why the real role of government is to look into the future and keep it from happening.
Hillary stands like King Canute, promising to stop the tides of economic history.
What’s this got to do with money?
Let’s ask another question instead: What is the source of Ms. Clinton’s campaign pile? Whence cometh all this lucre?
“It comes from rich people,” you will say.
But where did the rich get so much money?
Ah… that’s where it gets interesting.
We remind you of the context: So far this century, only the rich have gotten wealthier. Naturally, they are keen to see the system that gave them—and them alone—such great wealth continue.
Old Money, New Money
The key to understanding it all is the money system itself.
The money you spend today is the money that President Nixon inaugurated on August 15, 1971.
That’s when he reneged on America’s promise to convert foreign creditors’ dollars to gold at a fixed price of $35 per ounce… and broke the last link between the dollar and gold.
Nixon’s new money looked, for all the world, like the old money. It seemed to work just like the dollar always did. And the most distinguished economist of the era—Milton Friedman—advised Nixon to put it in place.
Subtle… slippery—the difference between the old dollar and the new one went unnoticed for 40 years.
Old dollar? New dollar? Who cared?
Even now, most of the world has no idea what happened. But we, dear reader, are beginning to connect the dots.
Here’s the basic difference: The old gold-backed dollar represented wealth that had already been created. You got more dollars as you created more wealth.
Money was real wealth.
But this old money was hard for the authorities to control. They said it was uncooperative. Intransient. And stubborn. They wanted a new kind of money… and a dollar they could manipulate (to make a better economy, of course).
So, the new dollar was created. And this new dollar was not based on wealth, but on debt.
It was not backed by gold. And it was not connected to the real wealth of the economy.
Instead, it was brought into being by the banking system—as a credit. It increased as people borrowed and went further into debt, not as they grew wealthier.
The more they borrowed, the more they could buy. This gave the economy the appearance of growth and prosperity. It allowed millions of Americans to increase their standard of living, even as their salaries stalled.
But every purchase put people further into debt…
Between 1964 and 2007, credit expanded 50 times.
And in 2008, the credit bubble burst.
More to come…
Reeves’ Note: The big corporations, banks, military contractors, and rich people backing Hillary Clinton are just apparatchiks of what Bill calls the Deep State… a nebulous group of elites who have infiltrated the far reaches of the American government.
Bill exposes this unelected group of insiders, and offers a “prep guide” to protect your wealth and privacy from its intrusion… in this urgent warning.