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The Modern Illusion of Prosperity and Success Is (Probably) Destroying Your Life

by | Jan 30, 2023 | Success

The American dream is the American nightmare.

It’s a virus that has spread all around the world — even to where I live here in the Australian desert.

Seeing the lie for what it is, is how you change course & buy back your life.

A salary that’s addictive to keep increasing

The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

A salary is what a job pays you.

It’s just enough for you to keep showing up. But never enough to be satisfied or beat the devils of taxes and inflation.

Once you get that hit of coke that is the first pay rise, you’re an addict. I chased salaries for years. Each raise felt good for about 4 weeks.

Then I didn’t even notice it.

What I did notice was all the extra work I had to do. And all the extra meetings I couldn’t say no to now they’d “looked after me.”

A 6-figure salary is the new minimum wage in many countries, thanks to intentional currency devaluation.

A big fancy house built on a foundation of debt

Owning a home is the dream. No landlords. No more dead rent money.

Except you have a new landlord whose name is “the bank.” He hides behind a call center. He’s hard to talk to and hard to reach. If you make the monthly payments you’ll never meet him.

If a recession strikes and you fall behind on the debt repayments, no empathy will be shown. A letter comes in the mail. “Pay up!”

Otherwise the bank will sell the home at your expense to the highest bidder and move on. Not a care in the world given. The stress of that monthly payment can be enormous.

So many sacrifices. Fewer holidays. Less time with your family to earn enough money to pay it off.

When you drive past all these fancy homes you assume the occupants are happy. They’ve got it all. But for many people it’s just appearances.

Their job keeps them Just Over Broke.

Luxury cars worth peanuts in 5 years

A car has become a status symbol in the modern era.

You don’t drive a car from A to B to get somewhere. No. You drive to arrive at a destination and quietly project the message “I’m better than you.”

The fact a Toyota is the same as a Mercedes is lost on people.

The Toyota says “I’m just getting by.” The Mercedes is supposed to announce “I’m successful and have it all. Be like me.”

The sad reality is these chunks of metal cost a small fortune and rapidly depreciate in value — especially in the first two years.

A luxury car shouldn’t be allowed to be called an asset. It’s a boat anchor for your financial future to hit rock bottom.

The quiet nightmare of working until you’re 65

The fact we work until 65 and retire is a topic most people never think about. Why does it have to be that way? Who said?

The 65 retirement age conveniently lets people put off their dreams for some point in the future when they’ll be less busy.

Until 65 you should dedicate your life to your job. Sell your soul. Overwork. Do what you’re told. Climb the ladder to nowhere (because nobody can guarantee where it leads — for many, it’s the land of nowhere).

Post on Instagram to document your life

It’s rarely documenting, though, is it?

Instagram is one of the most popular social media apps in the world. TikTok is similar. They’re places of envy.

It’s where you go to see what you don’t have. It’s where you go to brag about what you do have and accidentally make strangers feel worse. It’s why we have a mental health crisis among young people.

They keep being shown what they don’t have, so they never feel enough.


None of this is true prosperity or success. It’s a lie that can destroy your life if you don’t pay attention to it.


A radically different path to true prosperity and success

These steps are rebellious.

They may even piss you off. And they’ll probably force you to question everything you know. Good.

Let’s flip the playbook of prosperity on its head.

1. Rapidly reduce expenses

The biggest expense being shelter.

Many people live in houses way fancier than required. Once you stop caring what others think about where you live, you can let it all hang out. It’s why I now live in a poor suburb next to government housing.

The house is average and has no luxury conveniences. I can live here because when people visit, I don’t care what they think. And most people are way too shy to ever tell me what they think about my below-average house anyway.

With cheaper accommodation, there’s more money left over to live.

2. Increase this area of your finances

The financially illiterate say to increase savings.

But a savings account is where money goes to rot away because of inflation. Once you have enough cash on hand for emergencies, every dollar hoarded in a savings account beyond that is irresponsible.

Investments are so damn important — not because they make you rich — but because they give you back freedom and independence.

Invest in assets that make money instead of steal money.

3. Prioritize time over material investments

Material possessions steal time.

True prosperity is when you have an abundance of time and can do whatever the F you want. So you have to think of how you spend money as a depleter of time.

A $5000 couch is nice. But a $5000 couch is also 160 hours of hard labor that must be given up to get it. Is the loss of time worth it? Maybe. But you should always ask the question.

You spend differently when you measure products and services in time lost.

4. Re-invest time where it matters

Once you use money to get back more time, it too, can be an investment.

You can invest time into new hobbies. Or follow bizarre passions no one understands. Or be led in life by curiosity rather than “will this make me money, or will this person equal money?”

5. Choose a family-first approach

It blows my mind how little most people see their families.

I never used to care. I just assumed it was the cost of doing business and it didn’t matter much. Now I got a baby girl my whole perspective has changed.

To steal time from her childhood and give it away, like pissing against a brick wall where you just don’t care, feels criminal. She smiles and I instantly feel guilty if I trade time for money.

I’d rather go broke than miss her smiles. I’d rather be poor than miss her first words or the first time she walks.

Prosperity is when you see your family more than your work. This is a bizarre thing to say during the era of This American Life that so much of the world — including my country, Australia — live by.

It really pays to question the world of money.

When you do, you see how it interferes and screws up so much of life that we traditionally blame on all sorts of BS like politics and impossible equality.

Final Thought

Future prosperity comes down to your money mind.

How do you think about money? Does it destroy you or make you? Does money create the truth reality you want or quietly lie to you in your sleep?

To master money and find true prosperity it starts with self-education, investing in real assets, not giving a crap about what people think, and staying the heck away from things that lose value and steal time.

Rewrite your story of prosperity to be the opposite of the lie that is the typical American Dream all around the world.

This article is for informational purposes only, it should not be considered financial, tax or legal advice. Consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.

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