Money distorts and distracts from the real incentive that humans adhere to, which is that of being contributors to something.
Money has become an incentive because we have based our contribution and belonging around owning stuff, doing less and being efficient, but actually these things destroy any genuine sense of belonging – of being a part of something bigger than ourselves and of contributing to our greater, collective self.
Think about the great people – do they do what they do because of the money? The great thinkers, socio-political figures, sports people, scientists, artists etc are contributors, they add to the wealth of humanity because they believe in what they do, do something special and are incentivised by something that transcends and supersedes money.
Money is a power tool, used to make us feel like we can only contribute in a meaningful way if we are paid to do what we do. This becomes especially real when our lives can’t function without putting most of our time into bringing money to ourselves (which we have to).
The gap widens between those who have and those who do not and the true currency for contribution becomes ‘time’. Those who have time can buy an ability to contribute more to the world but you only have time if you either choose to step out of culture and the expectations of society, or if you are lucky enough to have money. Most people either have nothing or are living hand to mouth, spending all of their time purchasing money.
And for the rest of us we search for meaning and purpose in busyness – if we are busy we must be contributing something meaningful. Maybe, but its unlikely – we’re just wasting our time on doing things and making money. It’s almost impossible to waste our time when it’s focussed on people.