Money Cannot Destroy Boredom

A thought from Ferdinando Galiani: money can buy us only a little, and cannot destroy our boredom or our sources of ennui in life.

Download PDF

PDF: Money cannot destroy boredom

What is money?

Chase bank atm money

I’ve been thinking a lot about money lately, especially with all the technological advances in bitcoin, ethereum, and other blockchain crypto-currencies. Essentially it’s given me an epiphany:

Money is nothing but long strings of computer code that we can trade for food, services, and human labor.

We use money as a tool to give us what we want and what we need. We need money to buy food, pay rent, and pay for our coffee. We want money to buy superfluous things we don’t really need (things which are nice, but not necessary to survival).

Many of us see money as an external totem or marker of success. There is a point of “diminishing returns” in money, as billionaire Ray Dalio says. Money cannot buy you true love, meaningful work, or meaningful relationships.

And a realization I also had: money cannot destroy boredom or give us a sense of direction or purpose in life.

What is happiness?

First of all, it is hard to define happiness. But I can certainly say that the opposite of happiness isn’t sadness, pain, or suffering —it is boredom.

Thus my theory:

The best way to be “happy” is to just avoid boredom at all costs.

Now, that doesn’t mean to just play video games for the rest of your life. In fact, I think that the best way to avoid boredom is to work on things which are personally meaningful, challenging, allow you to grow and evolve, and somehow have some component of sharing or helping empower others.

Money, flexibility, and freedom isn’t enough to live a happy life

I think a lot of people think that money is a quick sure way to “happiness” in life. We fantasize the day we don’t need to go to work, when we can travel and set our own schedules, and eat really good food and have interesting experiences.

Doing yoga with Amelia underneath us. Orange County, 2018

But I can tell you — being self-employed, being a “digital nomad”, being “location independent”, having money in the bank, and having control over my time and schedule — that isn’t enough to be happy. Rather, often having too much free time is dangerous, because we must fully employ those hours to do meaningful work, and to avoid boredom.

Apparently when people retire, a lot of them fall into abject boredom, and end up dying soon afterwards because of lack of movement, lack of social engagement, and lack of work. It is difficult for most people to employ a lot of free time in a productive way, while avoiding boredom.

Because the truth is that everything in life (sooner or later) gets boring.

For example, I’ve traveled extensively from 2010-2018, and I can say after a while, travel itself loses its charm and gets “boring”. The same goes with eating fancy food, seeing interesting things and places, and even with certain experiences.

Kim’s cooking

The solution I’ve discovered for myself to avoid boredom is to constantly learn, innovate, create new things, evolve, challenge myself, make stuff, discover truths in life, and share this information with others.

selfie eric kim cindy nguyen orange county

The exciting thing is that this can be done regardless of how much or little money you have, regardless of what your job or employment is, or regardless of how famous/influential you are.

How to be happier and less bored in life:


Broken down, here is how you can apply some of these principles in your life:

  1. Never stop learning: Never stop reading books, and educating yourself. Keep learning all forms of visual arts, engineering, sciences, poetry, moderns and ancients, philosophy, computer science, or anything that interests you.
  2. Make more stuff: It isn’t enough to learn, apply the principles you’ve learned to make things. Make more photos, drawings, sketches, songs, poems, videos, or film. Make something tangible that you can share with others.
  3. Employ the fullest maximum of everyday: Treat everyday like it were a full lifetime. Carpe diem— seize the day. Treat like today were the last day you’re going to be alive on earth —what would you work on or do, and what would you not work on, worry about, or concern yourself with? This means let a lot of unimportant things slide, and don’t hold onto any regrets or negative feelings from the past.
  4. Stay physically and mentally fit: Make sure to move around everyday. Go on walks around the block, or in the park. Go to the gym and do some deadlifts. Do yoga or pushups at home. Spend time taking hot baths, or meditate. Realize the stronger you are mentally and physically, the more energy, power, and attention you will have to work on the things which are personally meaningful to you.
  5. Live below your means: Once you realize that you can live with very little money, it is the ultimate liberation. I’ve discovered for myself, I can sleep on a hard floor and be ok. I can eat only eggs and still survive happily. I can drink coffee and have access to WiFi, and I’m happy and can do all my work. Try experimenting to see on a daily basis, how little money you can spend, and how you can train yourself to live a little more uncomfortably. This will give you the realization that for the most part, endless pursuit of money is a waste of time. Better to use your life to do meaningful things, and make meaningful art.



Find more meaning and purpose in your life:

Personal Philosophy »

Stoicism »

Zen Philosophy »

Life Lessons »

Learn more: Start Here >