One of the last email exchanges between the ex and I was about the money he owed, but refused to pay. My parting comment was “fine! I’d rather be poor and happy than rich and miserable”. I would like to use my blog to retract that statement.
Over the ensuing two years I have learned that despite what popular culture would lead you to believe, money doesn’t make you rich.
Being rich is an attitude, a mindset, and has nothing to do with material wealth. It is simply a different thought process. It is rooted in gratitude. The sense that you are rich regardless of your bank balance is about living life on your terms, enjoying life, being grateful for what you have and how you perceive what have. Being rich in life is being happy.
It is true to say that we do not appreciate what we do have. I guess this is a human affliction. There is a subtle difference between wanting to change your circumstances and constantly chasing the next goal without ever stopping and appreciating what you already have. The question is when will you feel rich? at your first million? or your tenth? will you get to your tenth and then need to reach fifteen? Statistically it has been shown that lottery winners are universally no happier, which just underlines the fact that money alone is not the solution for misery.
There are possibly thousands of financial millionaires who are miserable. People who have worked to get where they want to be financially and find that the happiness they seek eludes them. To reach your goals and still be miserable is the ultimate in failure and I imagine a hollow and desperately empty realisation. How utterly depressing would it be to get where you thought you wanted to be, only to find that the hole inside still remains? or worse still, have no satisfaction and therefore continue to chase an ever elusive goal?
The book ‘As a man thinketh by Allen James’ written over 100 years ago, is still relevant today. It’s a small book which you could read in couple of hours, I purchased it recently and read it one evening. It is not a new idea, it’s an ideal which has been written by many philosophers over the ages. In fact the title itself was influenced by a biblical passage found in the book of Proverbs “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”. Fundamentally your happiness is not dependent upon external factors but on the way in which you perceive and think about what you have. If you spend your life contemplating what you don’t have, then, guess what! you are going to be unhappy. Spend your time being grateful for what you do have and the same life can feel a whole lot different.
Fundamentally, how you think about your life is the determining factor for how rich you feel. If you are able to be truly grateful about all the wonderful things you do have in your life then you are a much happier person. If you think about it, it all makes sense. I was no happier at the age of 17 in my first ever job than I am now. Despite the fact that I was only earning a sixth of what I earn today. The old adage – money doesn’t buy happiness – is so true. If happiness and money were linked then there would be no need for Robin Williams, who seemingly had everything, to end his own life.
Do not misunderstand me, financial wealth is not a bad thing, it is just not everything and if you are hoping more money will make you happy then think again. It has a place. It can be the cherry on the cake of an already rounded and rich life, but it is not the destination. And despite my exes constant need for more and more, I can honestly say at this moment in my life, whilst I am financially less affluent than I was, I am richer in so many other ways.