What I meant was living alone in solitude and excluded living, not as in living by oneself... sorry I didn't make myself clear the first time. In fact, you grasped my point very well, that is exactly what I tried to say, that amassing wealth for the sake of amassing wealth alone is a futile exercise. But of course people do that 'unconsciously' more on this later...
Money isn't what you want. When you do have money, you don't keep it. You trade it for things: rent, utilities, food, a car, gas for the car, insurance (peace of mind), entertainment, etc. It's what money can buy that you really want. The secret to happiness is to determine what you really want - what you would spend the money on if you had the money - and get that!
The delusion that amassing wealth will eventually lead to happiness or at least satisfaction is precisely what keeping our society stable.
Any man who thinks that he has satisfied his needs will surely stop labouring, or at the very least have no motivation of labouring harder. It is not so much of a problem on individual level. However, should such thing is happening at a societal level, the result will be catasthropic. Doctors will simply refuse to work overtime, even if patients are dying - simply because they think the financial benefit that comes from treating more patients is virtually non existent - since they have fulfilled their needs already. And if they are forced to work overtime, by law. Then no one would want to be doctor, effectively submitting himself to be slave of the society. Cashed up investors will simply invest their money in bonds or low risk and gone on holiday forever, instead of managing their money to invest in startup companies. Farmers won't bother producing a lot, they produce just enough for themselves, and so on.
My point is, something has to keep to work force keep working, in order to keep the economy - and thus society - stable. If nobody wants to go the extra mile, nobody wants to keep working after his simple basic needs (food shelter security, etc) are met. Why should a butcher keep working once he met his needs? but if this happens, then meat price will go up as dictated by the law of demand & supply. Eventually, if everyone cuts down his working time by say 1/3, we will have very high level of inflation, simply because there are more money (because the amount of money stay the same, while the amount of goods produced are reduced sharply).
Adam Smith wrote in Theory of Moral Sentiment, even a beggar lying on the street possess the security which kings around the world are fighting for. The reality is that we only need basic needs, we don't need luxury, hedonism - those things ultimately do not bring happiness. But this world is built upon imagination not reality.
I often ponder myself, why do I bother to work at all? Because I can stop working anytime I want and still have enough. Originally, I planned to retire by 40, now I am presented with the opportunity to do so by the age of 30. But then I thought again, is this right? I mean, if I work until 40, I may be driving a porsche by then, but I can live with a Honda, what's wrong with that? I am a minimalist to start with, I don't really enjoy luxury/hedonism, to me they are just an illusion of the mind. But if I quit, is this morally right? At the moment, the answer is no, simply because if everyone does it, then we have a problem... if young people choose to retire, who then who should work the extra hours? the elderly? the under-aged?
I work because it is the right thing to do morally, I do my time to serve society in the hope that one day when I am old and frail, society will take care of me. And while at it, I am faced with two options:
Believing that I do my work to serve others' interests
Believing that I do my work to serve my own interests
The latter seems to be much workable belief, it does make my work less burdensome.
I know for sure that the pursue of wealth is a grand delusion, however, I hope for the sake of our society - that people stay delusional. At least until a system better than capitalism is found... (but if it ain't broken, why fix it?)