Health versus wealth paradox


The Greek philosopher Plato wrote in “The Republic”

“…they think that old age sits lightly upon you, not because of your happy disposition, but because you are rich, and wealth is well known to be a great comforter.

And it got me wondering.

What are my top requirements, if that is the right word, to be contented, if not happy, in my retirement…?

So I listed the following “Top Ten”, in no order (or so I thought) :-

  1. Health
  2. Wealth
  3. Peace of mind
  4. Happy families
  5. Solitude
  6. Peace and quiet
  7. Community/charity work
  8. Part-time paid work
  9. Travel
  10. Time-consuming hobby

(Your list will include some of these, but will probably have others, in and out).

But here’s the discussion, as I see it.

Unless a person is at the lower extremes of health and wealth i.e. they are very ill or very poor, then is it not the case that the list is inter-related…?

In other words, if you have good health and are reasonably comfortable financially, then don’t the other items mix in and out with your retirement lifestyle…?

Retired people the world over focus on the top two items the most – health and wealth. These two are so inter-twined that the lack of one, or both, means that fear can easily be the result. Yes fear.

Let’s say you are healthy. Let’s say you are very healthy – and, in all probability, live a whole bunch of years. So far so good. And what if your financial condition is fine, EXCEPT that the retirement fund will run out if you live longer than “expected”…?

On the other hand, let’s say you are wealthy. Let’s say you are very wealthy. But what if you are in not so good health..? Then what benefit does your big retirement fund give you…?

So now let me ask what is top of your list… health or wealth…?

Not so easy is it ..?

Moreover, to compound the question, the other items on the list are really all dependant on the top two.

If you are not healthy, or not wealthy, or not both, then your ability to travel for example is seriously impacted. If you can’t afford the basics of life then having a happy family is nice, but secondary. The enjoyment of doing community work is diluted if you struggle to do the work, or wonder how you will pay the electricity bill this month.

The point of this article is not to offer suggestions to fix the problem – it is far too personal, and I don’t have the facts of your situation available to me.

But perhaps by alluding to the list (OK, my list), then it may enlighten people to the realization that if health and wealth are the drivers in YOUR retirement life, then they are the drivers in the lives of pretty much everyone else around the world. You are far from being alone. You are far from being guilty of mis-management. You are very, very normal.

You can’t turn the clock back and get wealthy. You can’t turn the clock back and get healthy. But you most certainly can embrace the hours that are left on the clock and enjoy them fully.

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