If I were to ask you to describe what being wealthy means to you, how would you answer? A young me (late teenager) would have answered that question as follows: Wealthy to me is a huge house with an outdoor go-kart track and a basketball court (and maybe a hockey rink too), a handful of cars (Porsche, Lamborghini, etc), and a private jet. I’m certain that many of you responded the same way.
Fast forward to today and I (early thirties) would answer that question with the following: Getting to hang out with my family and friends and doing the things we love. Notice the change? Before it was all about possessions: a house, cars, a jet. Now it is more about experiences.
I want you to take time and think about what really makes you happy and the feelings you get when you think about being really happy. Most likely the things that make you happiest are not material possessions. It is more along the lines of playing with your kids, reading a book at the beach, or spending a quiet night with your spouse. Realize that to be the happiest, you do not need a lot of money. You need money (a lot of money) to buy and keep the typical symbols of wealth – the cars, houses, and boats. But even if you have all of that, you won’t be as happy as you could be. By doing the things that make you feel rich, like playing golf with your Dad, you can live an extremely wealthy life.
Think about the things that make you feel rich and happy and then do the things that make you feel that way. Two things that make me happy are thought-provoking conversations and laughter. Because of this, I go out to eat with friends and we talk about issues that make us think. Then we head off to a comedy show to laugh. On the ride home, I am happiest, because I did things that make me feel happy and rich.
Don’t get me wrong, money is important. Even today, I know that I need money to experience all that I want to experience. I also know that I need a lot less money to experience what really makes me happy than I would otherwise need if I were trying to buy happiness through houses, cars and boats. I think of owning a big house, multiple cars, a jet and a vacation home. Then I think of all of the maintenance and upkeep costs. Is the huge house really needed? After all, I would only be using 5 of the 37 rooms. Is the vacation home needed? I will be staying there only a few weeks a year. The rest of the year I have to make sure it is secure. How often will I drive the Lamborghini? I’ll be so scared of scratching it that it’ll stay in my garage most of the time. All of this not only costs money but costs me my health through worry.
Your challenge is to find what makes you feel wealthy. My bet is that if you are truly honest with yourself you will find out that most of the things that make you happiest aren’t things at all. Stop concerning yourself with making enough money to control the world. You only need enough to make you happy and it’s probably a lot less than you think.