Note: This article was extracted from the TSN Insider Newsletter.
By Tina Su
A few weeks ago, I was standing in line at the grocery store to do some customer returns from my son’s birthday party. The customer service counter at the chain store is also the place where people buy lottery tickets, rent DVDs, buy cigarettes, rent carpet cleaners, along with costumer returns.
There were a dozen people standing in line. Since we were all waiting, in order to kill time, we all tilted our heads to watch the person at the front of the line.
The guy at the front of the line was buying lottery tickets. While making conversation with the person behind him, “All it takes is one ticket.” His face beaming as he continued, “… and then you’ll be a millionaire.”
His eyes sparkled as he said that with absolute conviction that this could be his lucky week, and then he would be “set” for life. He completed his routine transaction of purchasing his lotto ticket and walked away. I wondered how long he’s been buying lottery tickets, week after week, with an undying dream of getting that golden ticket – becoming a millionaire.
The next woman in line, in her late twenties or early thirties, was returning a large device that resembled an industrial grade vacuum cleaning. And then to my surprise, she too purchased two lottery tickets.
I watched in amazement, as every single person, in front of me in the line bought a lottery ticket, before hurrying away to go about their own ways following the routine of their day.
Later that hour, I continued with my grocery shopping, and I pondered the concept of “striking” rich, and the million dollar dream that we all seemed to be attracted to.
Many of us seem to have bought into the illusion of what a million dollars will bring – the vision of lasting happiness, of ultimate comfort, the end of trying and suffering.
But does it really bring us those things? Does it really bring about that happiness which we all seek? This is where it gets interesting.
I have a close friend -let’s call her Dani- who sold her company for over 20 million dollars a couple of years ago. And I got to witness –close up- what millions of dollars will and will not bring.
What it does bring though is the capacity to never be concerned with the acquiring of material possession ever again. If she wants a Kindle, she gets a Kindle. If she wants a house, she gets a house. If she wants to move to a new city, she gets up and moves without bringing any luggage.
Yes, money can certainly help to enhance the comfort of your life, but beyond a certain point –specifically $40,000 in the US, according to Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert– more money does not equate to more happiness. It just means that you can buy more “stuff”, and even that can get overbearing.
My point is not to say that having money is bad, but rather, having more money is not the magic bullet we are looking for. It’s not the easy escape that we originally thought. And it will not necessarily bring us more peace or joy.
Having millions of dollars isn’t going to extend your life, it won’t help you find true love (though it helps to attract the opposite sex, but doesn’t make it any easier), it won’t make you healthier, it doesn’t make you feel less alone, or more fulfilled.
Dani has the same types of emotional challenges and the ups and downs we all experience. And she too, is learning from these challenges, on her own quest to personal growth, and self-realization.
Watching her has certainly helped me understand happiness from a different level. That once you have the ability to buy pretty much anything you could ever need – material wise- and if you were on a quest for lasting happiness, you will actually come to a place within yourself to want to own less, and to live simply.
In Dani’s example, she pretty much sold or gave away everything she owned. She doesn’t own a car or a house. She lives in a comfortable but modest apartment, and travels the world, while pursuing meaningful projects, like writing, teaching, and lots of contemplative reading.
She lives on her own terms. No one tells her what to do. Every moment is a conscious deliberate choice, and everyday is a new entry towards learning something new.
I used to get jealous of her ability to travel the world freely – at the time, I was deeply unhappy with my own life circumstances and wanted an “instant” solution to happiness. Dani would then remind me that you can only play the role of a traveler for so long, before longing for something with more meaning, and that when she is traveling she is essentially “working, just with a different backdrop -in a different hotel room.”
I guess, when we are unfulfilled with our own lives, when we are looking for answers outside of ourselves, it’s easy to get lost in the fantasy of wealth, thinking it’ll solve all our problems.
And if that is our belief system, when we get there – if we do get there – we will be disappointed to discover the same emptiness that lies within prior to getting “rich”.
Richness is a state of mind, a perception within us when we interpret the external stimulus we interact with – our relationships, our work, the conflicts we face, and the hardships that the wind blows in our direction from time to time.
How we handle and interpret these situations and people determines our state of happiness. And our creative work and purpose gives us fulfillment. It’s not so much in what we do, but how we do it.
Once your basic material needs are fulfilled (sufficient food, clothing and shelter), everyone is on the same playing field – in terms of our opportunity for happiness and fulfillment. Having more money doesn’t give you more advantage on this quest.
If we can’t find happiness and fulfillment now, having millions of dollars later will not get you any closer. It is only in the now that we have power. It is only in the now that joy can be truly experienced, regardless of what we are doing.
And so, if happiness is what we seek, our choice is simple. Start doing today, right now, what you would be doing if you had millions of dollars more. Stop delaying your right to experience this moment fully and happily.
“Tomorrow” is an excuse that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Start living your dream now, whatever that is. It takes courage, and a willingness to live consciously and to self-examine your choices and unconscious reactions.
After seeking out wealth and success for many years, I’ve come back to the same place as when I started – I just want to be happy. And I’ve learned through many frictions and challenges that, happiness is a choice, and one that I can experience to the fullest right now. Actually, right now is the only place where happiness lies.
In the now, I can choose to see the good instead of the bad. I can direct my attention to gratitude instead of resentment. I can use the simple tools I’ve learned to release negative energy, instead of giving into anger. I can say sorry, instead of holding on ‘being right’. I consciously choose to feed my mind with inspirational and empowering literature, instead of news of war and conflict.
And if I had millions of dollars more in my bank account, perhaps a few material changes may be in place, like a different backdrop, but nothing of substance or true value would change.
I would have the same family, who I adore. I would be reading the same books. I would still love photography and writing. I would have the same friendships. I would be writing and drinking tea as I am doing right now. Nothing of importance will change.
My question to you is a self-examining one: if you had millions of dollars more at your disposal, how would your life change? What would you be doing?
If there is something you can do now, that you are delaying until some imaginary event in the future when the conditions are more ideal, see if it is something you can do now, or manifest it into fruition soon? See if you can make that trip, or start that project, or take that class?
Often, the intention and decision to do something is the most important piece of making any desire a reality. So start now in planting the seed for your desires to manifest in its full blooming glory.
If you had millions of dollars at your disposal, how would your life change? What would you be doing? Share your thoughts with us in the comment below.
If you feel a sense of jealousy at the sight of someone more successful. One way of overcoming this unproductive jealous feeling is to remind ourselves that this person has offered an enormous amount of value to the betterment of the world, and the rewards they are receiving is miniscule compared to the value they’ve given out for free.
In Dani’s case, I know for a fact, she has created more in value than the financial rewards she’s received. She deserves every goodness life has given her. Dani has been a great mentor and a very supportive friend to me. I admire her very much.
It helps to remember that her success wasn’t an accident. It was conscious, deliberate intention and massive action towards her desires that has put her where she is today.
And if you asked Dani which book she owes her success to? She’ll say that it was Napoleon Hill’s Think & Grow Rich given to her as a young 19 year old that forever shaped the way she viewed success.
Want more articles than the blog posts on this site? I’m currently experimenting with more frequent writing that reflects on something I’ve learned each day, or something that made me happy. This article was extracted and then polished from the TSN Insider Newsletter. You can subscribe here to receive my “TSN Insider” emails.
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- Book: The Law of Success – Napoleon Hill, 1925
- Book: The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
- Book: Think & Grow Rich
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