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Having a superabundance of money is considered good by most people, and having no money at all is considered bad. There has been some research on that topic, and it seems people the world over find having about an average amount of money for their local social group provides the most sense of living well. This rule apparently holds true for people living in near starvation situations, but even people living in absolute monetary luxury feel that way. It all depends on who a given person is comparing themselves to, as to how comfortable they feel about their money.

Marcus Aurelius, the Stoic philosopher emperor of the Roman empire, and incredibly wealthy, was a follower of Epictectus, a poverty-stricken slave. Although Epictectus had been a slave and was a cripple, he developed a world view that encouraged everyone to become free of anxiety by paying attention to what they could control and ignoring what they couldn’t. He defined what he meant with specific examples and then generalized how one could relate to those things. This gave rise to a period called by some the Five Good Emperors, which was a period of peace and prosperity for the Romans. It didn’t last forever, but the Roman government did last until the fall of the Russian Romanovs in 1918. That’s some two and a half millennia. To some extent modern United States government is a revival of the Roman ideals that existed in that Stoic period, in law, philosophy and engineering.

In a hierarchy of wealth it would seem that total quantity of money has little to do with one’s personal feelings, even if the external appearance of wealth does affect others in their personal valuation of their own self-worth. It’s all relative, but it depends largely on what one chooses to pay attention to. Wealth does purchase better medical care, and many people spend their life’s savings near the end of their life trying to regain health. Unfortunately, that often just prolongs an unpleasant situation. Also, I have encountered bedridden people in retirement homes who no longer have anything, but at least while I was talking with them were exuding happiness.

So I have been trending toward a Stoic philosophy of a tranquil life, paying attention to those things that are within my influence and enjoying them. Nearly everything is outside of my control, or even influence, and I observe it abstractly, but I don’t think about those things much, and I don’t worry about them at all.