…It is teaching your mind to be happy with your life the way it is instead of focused on what you wish it was. Now, before you go off on a tirade about this last sentence, read the rest of this and then see what you think.
First of all, I did not say that you should be satisfied with where your life is, I said you should learn to be happy. Those are VASTLY different things, and if you don’t continue to strive for a bigger and better life you will stay right where you are at.
Secondly, Do you REALLY know what you want? Most people when asked will say they want to be rich. But the definition of that is wide and deep, and too vague for you to aim at as a target. What you need is a highly defined, specific goal as an end result as well as a mapped out plan on how to get there.
Being happy now means that you understand how fortunate you are to have what you currently have, as well as the opportunities that are available for you to improve your circumstances. Despite what you may think, you live in the greatest time in history. There is more opportunity than ever before, and by a long shot. With the speed of the internet, the availability of access to it, and the interconnectivity of the world, you are a text message away from almost anyone on the planet. For example, I did a ZOOM interview with a guy from South Africa who is embarking on a similar path as I am with public speaking and coaching. He reached out to me through a resource website connecting podcasters with guests, and despite being eight hours ahead of me and literally half way around the world, he and I had a great one hour chat via ZOOM. He and I still check in on one another occasionally, and I love the fact that this is even remotely possible. Don’t just take that for granted, think about what that would have been like 25 years ago…he and I would have been pen pals…
Please understand that you have been given a tremendous gift to be alive and be the person you are right now. If you are going through some tough times you may not feel that fortunate, but I promise you that you are. There are a lot of people who are far less fortunate than you are; if you are reading this blog on a thousand dollar laptop or cell phone, your life is not that bad. There are estimated to be 1.7 million AMERICANS that do not have access to clean water. Don’t think the Sahara Desert…think right here in the U.S. and realize that you have it a lot better than a bunch of people. This is what I mean when talking about being happy right now with what you have. I didn’t say settle, I said be happy. Things could ALWAYS be worse. Just in case you need an example, here you go…
A person I used to work for is suffering from complications of late stage Alzheimer’s disease. I was very close with him and his wife for a long time, we went on numerous fishing trips, and spent other social time together. I dated his step-daughter for a while and she and I are still friends to this day. I was lucky to have visited him recently on a “good day”, one where he recognized me and was coherent enough to hold short conversations with me. It was so sad to see him like this, but looking at his close family sitting with him at the same table was really difficult. They looked exhausted and emotional drained. I felt deeply for them. I have been lucky to not have had anything like this to deal with in my life to this degree. Yes, all of my grandparents have passed, but I was not tending to their every need day and night in the process. I had the luxury of distance for most of that process. Remember, things can always be worse…
Back to my second point from the opening paragraphs, do you really know what you want? If you found a magic lamp and got three wishes, what would you ask for? Seriously, stop and think about that for a moment. Do you think you want a billion dollars? A private jet? A mansion? Hmm…let’s unpack that a little bit. Having a billion dollars solves any of your current financial issues, no doubt. But you do not need a billy to do that, as no one reading this blog is a billion dollars in debt. So maybe what you want is to be financially free from concern. So how much money would that take? Do you need a huge mansion on top of a hill, or do you just think you want that? Keep in mind, the more money you have the less real friends you have. You will be saddled with the concern that everyone who is now a friend of yours is because you are rich and they are not. They want what you have, and they get it by hanging out with you.
A private jet sounds cool, but do you have any idea how much it costs to maintain a private jet, stored an a private airport, with a pilot on standby? According to this article, it is in the range of $3 million per year. Maybe not the best investment to make, trying NetJets or another rideshare in the sky platform seems like a much better use of your funds. A mansion on this hill? Seems like a cool idea, but why do you need it? Do you have a family of 12 that all need their own room? Unlikely. All of these things can be tied back to the same reason:
You want the world around you to know that
you are rich, that you have “made it”.
That is your ego rearing its ugly head. It is shallow and vapid and inviting an entirely new set of problems into your life. If you think all your problems disappear when you have seven figures or more in the bank, you are sadly mistaken. I have had the luxury of spending a fair amount of time with people who are close to hitting that “rich” designation and those who definitely have. For many of them standing on the brink of real wealth, they are mortgaged to the hilt, living a lifestyle that has them living paycheck to paycheck, just at a much higher level. Is that really what you want? Do you really think crying in your Ferrari is better than smiling in your Honda? You are dead wrong… think about it. Happiness should be the goal.
Do you know what most of the really wealthy people I know do? They hide their wealth from the world. They wear the same workout clothes all the time, they drive older Jeeps and 4Runners in some cases. Yes, they go on some extravagant vacations and have hobbies like skiing in Whistler BC or go on photo safaris in Africa. They go onto the field at a football game instead of sitting in the stands like the rest of us. But on a day to day basis, many rich people do not want those around them to know. It saves a lot of trouble for them, like people hitting them up to sponsor their kid’s soccer team or invest in a business idea they have. It saves the awkwardness that some people have around those with more than them; it avoids someone spitting on their brand new Ferrari that’s parked over two spaces out front. The smart ones don’t do stuff like that.
In my humble opinion, peace of mind is what almost all of us seek. Yes, it gets misguided at times and on occasion it gets lost in the shuffle from the initial pursuit. What would make most people very happy is to have enough money to pay the bills, live in a nice neighborhood with options of where your kids go to school. You want a vacation or two a year, a job that doesn’t detract from your family life and a car you can always rely on. Outside of this, in the material realm anyway, there is just different levels of the same thing. How big the house, how new the car, etc. become the new standard. But do the newer version of things really make your life better or more enhanced? Doubtful…it just placates your ego and fills in those insecurity gaps you and everyone else has.
If you are looking to set goals for yourself and your life, keep these things in mind. Happiness needs to be the focus, not possessions. You need a life of purpose, and you need to serve others. These are the key ingredients to a happy life, not a trendy handbag or a new Range Rover who’s novelty will wear off before the first payment is due. Leave your mark on the world in the short time you are here by influencing others in a positive manner, not by how much you consume while you are alive. Reduce your carbon footprint and increase your human impact.