Money’s Charm: How Making Money Can Obscure the Meaning of Things

  My former mentor asked me to supervise her students. There was no charge at the beginning, but recently I started charging according to the requirements. Naturally, it was symbolic and much lower than the price of my actual work. But after doing this, my experience was not good and I often felt like being “exploited”. Every time before I go out, I feel a little lazy and unmotivated when I think of spending an hour and getting dozens of dollars in reward.
  This is very strange. When there was no charge, I didn’t feel that disappointed. On the contrary, I felt unbalanced because my income started from scratch. Is it because I’ve become greedy? I carefully recalled my mentality when I was free of charge. At that time, I felt that the whole thing was very meaningful. On the one hand, I helped others, and on the other hand, I learned from each other through teaching. I also gained a lot from this process. Besides, it doesn’t take much time every week.
  But when I made money from this, those benefits were immediately overshadowed. It simply became a matter of “making money”. And as a money-making thing, the rewards are lackluster.
  There is a classic psychology experiment that asked two groups of subjects to complete the same boring task, gave them different rewards, and then asked them to give feedback on their evaluation of the task. The subjects who received more money were obviously happier and were adequately compensated for their time. But surprisingly, they were more bored with the task, and the group that received less money scored higher on the fun factor. This phenomenon is called “cognitive dissonance”, which means that when a person doesn’t make a lot of money, he has to think of other meanings to explain to himself “why I want to do this”. These meanings will make him think that what just happened is not that bad.
  But this angle is too negative. In real life, I prefer to understand it as: many things that originally have more meaning, because we make money, we only see the most eye-catching exchange of interests. People who make money get benefits, but they believe that they are just doing it for the sake of the money.
  Money has such a charm. This is certainly not to say that making money is bad. From any perspective, making money is a good thing. Maybe just because it’s so good, it can become a nuisance, making other aspects of things look lackluster. It’s so eye-catching that it overshadows everything else. It almost automatically becomes the sole focus of the situation, and then it becomes difficult for people to see anything else.
  I have a visitor who was addicted to stock trading some time ago. The market was very good at first, and he happily looked at the market every day and counted how much money he had made. Normally, it would be enough to look at this kind of number once or twice, but every time he looked at it, he would feel new excitement: “I’ve made money again!” This thought seemed to have a sweet fragrance, which made him dazzled. Once the price fluctuates, it goes without saying that he will be restless and will only smile when it returns to the positive line. The word “making money” has captured him firmly, like an addiction. Every once in a while, he needs to stimulate himself with this idea again, and he has no interest in anything else. Even without the subsequent sharp decline, his state is still worrying.
  When I first started writing articles online, I didn’t think about making money. I just wanted to make friends with my articles for fun. Some articles were reprinted by the media and received one or two hundred yuan in royalties, which was like an extra reward, which made me very happy. Later, some media approached me to make an appointment with me, and the money was a little more, but the matter became more and more like a task, and the boring side gradually became apparent. Sometimes I sit in front of the computer and spend hours deleting and revising, trying my best to write an article. I feel unspeakably frustrated. I must always remind myself: I am not spending this time just to get “fee”. Otherwise, wouldn’t I have suffered a huge loss?
  I also plan to write a book. This has been a dream for many years, but when I think that someone may ask in the future: “How much money can you make in total by writing this book?” I feel a little discouraged. Because I can almost imagine the next question: “That’s it? Oh my God, why are you writing?”
  I know a colleague who also provides low-cost supervision to students, but he donates part of the income to charity funds. When he explained this matter, he said that he would feel comfortable only if he donated. I kind of understand how he thinks, and I plan to imitate him. From the perspective of making money, of course the more you earn, the better, but that is market behavior of selling time in exchange for income. Sometimes we also have to make money. Only in this way can we be human beings with free will and control of our own lives, not just a priced commodity.

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