Monday, February 20, 2012

Fame, fortune, power! Gimme gimme!

So if any of you still believe that fame, fortune, or power can bring you happiness, I would rank you as either comatose or naive.

I have to assume that if you are reading this, you are not comatose. Which leaves only the latter, and if you are naive, then watch E! True Hollywood Stories, or watch The Aviator about Howard Hughes, or remember Elvis or Julius Caesar.

See, it's like this. I'm an engineer, and as an engineer, it's my job and my nature to look for correlations. While the data I have is anecdotal, I do make some conclusions based on what I've seen.

And what I have seen is this: There is no correlation between personal happiness and the following: how much money you make, how powerful you are, or how famous you become.

Maybe there is some correlation, as seen in this article: $75,000 Can Make You Happy. I'll give you that. If you make too little, you can stress about day-to-day basic needs.

But as you cross that threshold and start making huge bucks, you buy a bigger box in which to store more stuff. That's what George Carlin says: That's all your house is: a place to keep your stuff.

With all that said, I know many of my friends and fellow writers and fellow artists are after that all-powerful big-league signing bonus, a huge mansion, and your name as a household word.

You might not admit it, but that's kind of where you are angling. I admit it. I want some of that.

But I will say this: I really don't care about money. I have enough that I don't hurt, and not so much that I have to guard it and fess over it.

Fame never has suited me -- I prefer anonymity, to be honest.

Power has almost no power over me. With power comes great responsibility. Have you ever really thought about that quote? It's true. If you're the World President, then you have to worry about the entire world. Man. Can I get a capital-bold FUCK THAT!


So if it isn't about fame, or money, or power, what is it about, then?

For me, it's about personal satisfaction. It's about entering a person's head and changing the way they think. It's not about Character Arc for me, but about ~READER~ Arc. I wrote about Reader Arcs a year ago, here: Reader Arcs.

I want the reader to be a little bit different when they put down my work. I want them to be a little bit better, a little bit more curious, a little bit more open.

That's what I want.

How about you? Why are you doing all this? What do you want, really?

- Eric


L. Diane Wolfe said...

I write to make a difference in the lives of others. I want my books to encourage, uplift, and spur others to pursue their dreams.
And making just enough money so that I can take care of myself AND others is the best place to be.
I certainly don't need more stuff!

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Diane has the right idea : to have power and money enough to pursue your dreams and help those in pain.

Abigail Adams saw young that without power and money, her mother could not help the many widows and orphans of their tiny hamlet of Weymouth -- made so by disease and war.

Which is why Abigail made certain to have property legally her own and the money that came with it.

Power means much if you are under the thumb of a tyrant, powerless to fight back. Money may not buy happiness, but try being sick without it.

Like you and Diane, I think moderation is the key and the great good fortune of being in a country where we have certain basic rights, though often denied us. Insightful post, Roland

Cynthia Lee said...

I can say honestly that I have absolutely no interest in being famous. That's nothing but a prison and if you're intensely famous - it can be damaging in so many ways.

I will admit to wanting a little bit of money. I'm not going to deny it. But great wealth is not why I write. I'm also certain that it's not going to happen to me so I don't have to worry about it too much. :)

Unknown said...

Bit pathetic really, want people to say well done and would love a little money in my old age! :0)

Wine and Words said...

I'll pass on the fame, pass on the power. I'd sure as hell take some money about now. I don't do "all this" as I have no writing aspirations beyond my little blog. I really like the notion of a house being nothing more than a place to keep your stuff. In my apartment I find I have FAR less stuff, and whatever I left behind I don't miss, and whatever I don't miss, I didn't need, and whatever I didn't needs, is probably where all my money is! Sheesh. Hindsight. Mine is 20/20.

Phoenix said...

I first read about the $75,000 study in a book that changed my life - The Happiness Hypothesis. And I think the most important part is skipped, which is the other half of the study - that people have a natural Happiness Setting, if you will. Sure, short term stuff (like winning the lottery) can change that, but after about six months, it mostly evens out again. So not only did they do a study with people who'd won the lottery and found after six months that it did not make them happier; they also studied people who'd recently become paralyzed and found that, after six months, it did not make them LESS happy. That is to say: everyone evened out to around the same amount of happiness they had before the life changing event.

Human beings are springy, bouncy-back people with deeply embedded habits.

Me? I don't want fame (being a recognizable working actor would be nice; getting stalked by the paparazzi would not), and I definitely don't want power beyond being able to dictate what I do with my own body (something some politicians would disagree with these days), and a little bit more money would be nice so I don't have to worry about how I'm going to pay for bills...

but what I'd really like, and what I feel I finally have after a long time, is purpose.

You just can't put a price tag on having purpose, my friend.

Jai Joshi said...

You made me grin because I realised that even though I have no power and no desire for power, I still worry about the whole world. You'd think it would be the opposite!

But you're right. Money, fame and power are not and will not ever be what makes people happy. Even if they think it will.

Stephen Henry said...

Thought-provoking post. Many people assume happiness is about money, power and work because that's what's drilled into us. You're in education for say 18/19 years. Why? To get a good job. What makes a good job? Pay and the power it will bring.

I guess happiness for me, being quite a creative person, is to influence the environment around me in a positive way.