Somjit Amrit
5 min readDec 3, 2022


Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

“Money, money, money Must be funny…

Money, money, money Always sunny…” *

It has been 10 years ago since I read my last self-help book. The self-contradicting nature of self-help advice gets on my nerves.

In the past, I have lent an ear or read the “flavour of the year” mass-market paperbacks from self-help “gurus.” Most of the time they reinforce the tips that you already know after years in professional life…. At the end of the reading, I am at sea as to what to accept, what to adapt, and what to ignore. Then comes the chapter labelled as “Top 5 things” to do in … “and it would be contradicted by what you read on a similar topic a month later.

With all of the advice out there, it can be confusing to sort out what to accept, what to adapt, and what to avoid. Everyone offers something different, their (generic) version of how to solve our (specific) problems. And often, the advice can be quite contradictory. For example: “Stress is the sworn enemy of work-life balance” versus “Embrace stress as a path to realizing your most creative potential.”

Arguably, the best-selling categories relate to topics on Money, Health, and Relationships. Let me pick the first while making a conscious effort of trying not to be a self-styled guru myself.

The visit to the Money Museum

During my most recent travel to the USA, I visited my brother in Denver, CO. In one of the discussions, I playfully quizzed my brother on the origin of the name of the city “Denver.” He raked his fingers through the hair, thinking, to arrive at the correct answer. All along conscious of the ribbing he would get, given that he is a long-term resident of Denver and yet did not know this trivia. Time was up, and with the answer not forthcoming, I shared the answer: “Denver is the portmanteau of the last three letters of “Golden” and “Silver”. My brother, an avid numismatist took this trivial one-upmanship from me with the grace of a big brother!

As a consequence of this casual conversation, I accompanied him along with our son on a road trip to the American Numismatic Association’s Edward C. Rochette Museum also known as the Money Museum. The Museum is tucked away in Colorado Springs, seventy miles south of Denver, CO.

This museum archives fantastic documentation showcasing the evolution of money over the last 10,000 years and presenting the varied coinage from all the ancient civilizations, and the quiet grandeur of the U.S.-minted coins and paper currency. The physical displays are a treat for any museum-goer. This visit reinforced my understanding that money since its evolution has been an important cog in the wheel of civilization — a surrogate mark of status — a significant characteristic that has never faded with time…, rather has been reinforced with the passage of time.

I had left self-help books for a reason. However, its more compelling sibling is the quotable quotes. The wordsmithing in quotes feels good when read because they relay a thought that one could agree with but has not been able to express as such.

In the nondescript corner of the basement of the Museum was ensconced the Children’s Corner, and to my fortune, I came across several wall-hung quotable quotes (on money) which amused me because of their smart and pithy expression of words.

The quotes and the contradictions

As we grew up, we have been oft-preached “Money cannot get us happiness.” To date, I have been absorbing this truncated version. Here is what I found the appropriate full version to be: “While money cannot buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.” — Groucho Marx.

Then the quote from comedian Spike Milligan,” All I ask is the chance to prove that money cannot make one happy.”

Poor me, the concern I had was to explain to my accompanying teen son, which of these literal statements/quotes are correct and what could be the “right prescription” for life.

Incredulously he blurted out with utmost sincerity in his voice, “If money can make us miserable, why does everyone need money, or strive to earn money?”

The recent events

Let us pause for a moment and see what is happening around us now. The mass layoffs in large, monopolistic technology companies, which till recently seemed to be unshakeable have shaken people. The companies are falling short of earnings and consequently the value of their stock price(s). The layoffs can be devastating for the individuals affected personally and the economy as a whole.

In response to shareholder demands to bolster profitability and improve the stock price, the lay-off is the most expedient solution. So, we see people’s livelihoods get sacrificed at the altar of money (profitability).

So, if someone gives a saintly sermon that “money is not everything” should you politely beg to differ and say “Yes, money is not everything, but it is being treated as the ONLY thing”?

Warren Buffet, the legendary investor, mentioned plainly — “Money is not everything! But make sure you earn a lot before speaking such nonsense.”

Owing an explanation

In their teenage years, it is difficult to shake off the beliefs of kids when they pose a discomforting question as mentioned above. As we left the museum parking lot, I mustered all the intellectual effort to prepare my answer.

We stopped at the gas station to fill the fuel tank. It is then I had a brainwave; the explanation came to me!

Money can buy fuel but can it get the experience of travel? Money can buy tickets to the museum but can it help imbibe the knowledge gained through the visit?

Money can ensure our life but can it keep us safe as we drive down the highway?

Money is a tool that will help us to get what we want but that want is rooted in one’s own intellect. It is simply a means to an end.

The relief I had when I explained these situational examples as we drove down the highway, made me feel like a cool dad. I gained that extra reverence from my teenage son who was expecting a response to his (ambush of a) question. He turned and looked straight into my eyes with that unmistakable regard. It made my day!

Parting words

Being rich is a practical choice but being happy is an intelligent choice. One might not be happy without money but then there is no guarantee that one would be happy with it.

Someone rightly said that money can buy you leisure, but not calmness. Calmness is in the mind, which money cannot buy.

How about dusting off the classic 1976 ABBA * disco hit “Money, Money, Money,” (er…the easier through YouTube) and finding guaranteed happiness for those 3:05 minutes?

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Somjit Amrit

Business Consulting pays the bills and taking care of Bees in wild calms the nerves