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Becoming a Millionaire

Photo by Edwin Stemp. Follow him on Flickr.
Editor’s Note

This article was extracted from the TSN Insider Newsletter.

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.

For one thing, it certainly doesn’t bring lasting happiness, or the end of suffering, or solves all our problems. It doesn’t cure loneliness or fulfill our desire to live with more meaning.

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.

As sexy as this may sound, it only brings temporary satisfaction; it doesn’t bring what matters to us most: inner peace, fulfilling relationships, and lasting happiness.

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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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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56 thoughts on Becoming a Millionaire

  1. This is great because so often we thing money is the key to happiness when it isn’t. So many rich people become depressed and committed suicide.

    I like how you said that many of those who are richer than us have created great value in the world and are getting back only a small portion of what they have given out.

  2. Hi Tina,

    What an interesting article! I too have watched people buy lotto tickets and have purchased a few myself in the past, so I can appreciate the hope that lottery brings to people who have no other idea of making it rich. I too remember a colleague who used to say the exact same thing as the guy you saw in the line. As far as I know, he has not struck it rich, if not, he would have announced it to the world by now.

    In truth, overnight riches is not a good thing. If we have not learned to make a million dollars with our own effort, it is unlikely that we will know how to manage a million dollars if it falls into our laps. Think about it, when you strike a million dollars through the lottery or inheritance, what changes? The person you were doesn’t change. Sure, you have the means to afford the things you could never have in life. But like a man who is dying of thirst and hunger, there is a tendency to overindulge in drink and food. People who get rich overnight might not have the prudence to manage that money well.

    Things happen for a reason. If we are not rich, we are probably not ready for it. We do not have the mindset or the skill set to acquire the riches we dream of. As you rightly point out, being rich is not a cure for our human problems. The rich suffer just the same as we do. We do not really need a lot to be content in life. And the satisfaction we derive from material possessions or the pursuit of pleasure does not last long. Unless we focus on our personal growth and spiritual development, money alone cannot fill the emptiness we feel inside. Being happy depends on the choices we make in our lives and our personal relationships.

    You’re right, we do not need a million dollars to start living now. In fact, not having a million dollars makes us more creative in living the life we want to live. And creativity in dealing with life is a skill worth having.

    Thank you for sharing this article! :)

    Irving the Vizier

  3. Meira

    I’m in a college orientation class and we were just talking about this yesterday! Great article!

  4. I like the way Kanye West put it – “Having money’s not everything, not having it is.”

    Another quote I like, from Tony Robbins, is ‘money can’t solve your problems, but you can arrive at your problems in style.’

    It definitely can’t buy happiness, and for a lot of people it brings a whole new level of problems. You have to learn to be happy regardless of your circumstances, which is not easy to do. But if you do learn that, then money will definitely be welcome!

    BTW, I’m a huge fan of Think and Grow Rich, as well as The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles.

  5. Great article! In my case, I have defined my ‘wealth’ in terms of my time freedom now instead of actual money. My wife and I have also realised that material ‘things’ can be a real energy drain, and we are in the process of getting rid of a lot of our ‘stuff’ that is cluttering up our space.

    I am always reminded of the old proverb “Full mat, half mat, a fistful of rice” which essentially means – whether you are a King or a pauper, when you sleep, you take up a full mat. When you are sitting, you take up a half mat, and your stomach only holds a fistful of rice.

  6. Hey Tina,

    This post truly resonates with me. A couple of years ago I was that guy that wanted to create a billion dollar company. I thought having more money would bring more happiness and contentment. I strove hard and diligently toward that goal. I lost my marriage because of neglect and ultimately lost myself. Flash forward 4 years, I’m broker than ever and the happiest I’ve ever been as well. I’ve found that it’s not what physical things you have that brings happiness, but the simple understanding of knowing yourself and being happy with just that. I’m so glad to have discovered this mindset before it was to late, because some never quite get it.

    Thanks Tina for a wonderful post.


  7. Janice

    I already consider myself having too much “things and stuff”, and I am no where near being a millionaire. I do think I would like to have enough money to ease the stress on some of my loved ones by paying off their dept, or buying them a place to live, or paying off their mortgage. That would allow my daughter with heart disease to stop stressing about not having enough money, or have the medical care she needs, my elder sister to be able to quit working, or relieve the stress on my son trying to stay afloat with his business and take care of his family and having to borrow money to stay afloat even after losing their home.
    So, the way my life would change if I won or otherwise came into a million dollars would be to take care of the people I love, easing their stress and pain. And perhaps giving them some joy, and allow them to have time to reflect, think positive and think simple now.

  8. Hu Rong Mei

    If the Dalai Lama wants a Kindle, he gets a Kindle. If he wants a house, she gets a house. If he wants to move to a new city, he gets up and moves without bringing any luggage.

    So does Xing Lian and Mohing Su Hu

    My mother-in-law keeps me staked.

  9. Its 4 am and this post made my day. Even tho i was half asleep reading the post, it certainly lifted my spirits.

    If i had a million dollars at my disposal, i would invest in myself for personal development and specialized skills, help my family up on their feet, invest in financial opportunities, and contribute to improving our generation’s future the ethical, practical, and humanitarian way.

    I just started a personal blog of my own on personal development. Im still new at this and just learning the ropes. But come check it out and leave some feedback!

  10. What would I do if I had millions? Well, I’d pay off my student loans and credit cards and would buy real estate. I’d spend much of my time like Dani does — traveling, reading, being good to others.

    My life wouldn’t change ALL that much. Just the worry of money would be eliminated (and that’s a big worry to erase, so I can see why people yearn to win the lotto). I’ve long known that money doesn’t ‘cure’ our problems, nor does it make people happy. But life sure would be easier without the worry of not having enough to make ends meet.

  11. Thanks for the post Tina. I know I had my life on hold for one of my biggest dreams just thinking if I had enough money I could do it. I wanted to help change the world, make it a better place, so instead of waiting for the day I had the time, the money, the resources, I took a deep breath and started 365give. I know GIVE every day in my life and blog about it in hopes it will inspire more people to GIVE in their lives. That will change the world! All of us doing one thing every day. So you can do something without winning the lottery. It is my million dollar dream. Find the things you can do not what you can’t do. One other great book to add to your list is Lynn Grabhorns: Excuse Me Your Life is Waiting. Great book and worth the read to inspire you to follow your dreams.

  12. Tina,
    What a wonderful article. Especially since this past week there was lottery fever. As many tickets that were bought, two tickets in two different places won. One of them still hasn’t come forward. That would be like me…I would never check the number since would assume that it was a waste of money spent. ha/ha

    The need to be able to pay bills is great. It is awful when you don’t have money to buy your medicine and groceries, but it does not ensure life is going to be better. Too many believe that if they could only be rich and/or more attractive, etc. then finally they would be happy. Such a sad way to live.

  13. Goldie

    Let’s see here… I’ve given this a lot of thought so here goes..

    I’m happy in general. I’ve always had the ability to find the bright side of things and just ‘be’. But the main reason I’ve always wanted to be rich is so all my time would be my own. I would live by no one else’s schedule!

    Having money is like buying time, in a good way. You can quit your job and devote unlimited time to family, pets, friends, hobbies, passions. That has always been the seed of my millionaire fantasies.

    Also, even though it’s a tried old nugget of philosophy that money can’t buy happiness, to some extent it sure can. Instead of compromising on what I and my family and pets eat, I would move closer to an area where we would have access to the finest organic foods. I would teach my family the value of clean living. I’d put my pets on organic, healthy, raw food diets. All these are things that I can’t do properly living on a fixed income. Total health and a body void of toxins would boost mental clarity and performance, in essence, making you happier.

    I would spend lots of time reading, devouring information. That would bring me great happiness as well. I’m addicted to truth regarding health, wisdom, spirituality, animal rights, vibrational healing and so on. Imagine having only free time to pursue one’s interests!

    Lastly, being a millionaire would fulfill in me a great need to give money and time to animal rights and environmental groups, plus local organizations. To know that I could do more than I can do now to ensure the lives and happiness of creatures less fortunate than myself would put me on a natural high.

    When I think about being rich, it usually has nothing to do with houses, cars or boats. And while I’m sure I’d at least relocate and be dept free, it’s these intangible things I yearn for.

  14. Great post Tina.

    I don’t buy lottery tickets and I am the guy who goes to Vegas to see shows with his wife and not gamble. Yet money is very important to me.

    Just like everyone else I have the worry lack of money produces. I don’t ever want to be broker enough not to be able to buy food, medicine or support my family. The difference between my philosophy and my friends that do occasionally buy lottery tickets and gamble is that fact that I have rid myself of “microwave mentality” (Darren Hardy) and they have not.
    People who want results NOW, seldomly accomplish them. You got to work hard to achieve your goals, no matter what they are (even accumulating a million dollars). You got to have a plan and work on it. If you know probability of winning lottery, you would not build your plan to be wealthy on that strategy.

    @ Devan Thank you for the great analogy/quote.

    @ Janice I greatly sympathize with your situation and hope all of your loved ones are going to take proactive steps to improve their lives in 2011.
    Please do refer to teachings of Jim Rohn and Darren Hardy or at least read what The Vizier has written (2nd response to this post). Generally taking care of the symptom only relieves the pain, but does not fix the problem. There are have to be ways to solve your loved ones’ issues permanently without a one-time cash infusion.

  15. There’s a couple of problems with playing the lottery to “become a millionaire” –
    1) This probably means you don’t have the mindset to deal with it.
    2) What you are giving is of little value, so what returns to you is usually nothing as well.

    T. Harv Eker and Bob Proctor (as well as Earl Nightingale) all cover these points. The people who are getting rich (and all of the above are/were multi-millionaires consistently) is that they are constantly working to preserve and continue the flow of income they have – because that helps them help others improve their own lives.

    You only get what you give away – usually a lot more. And if you have built your “millionaire mind”, then you are prepared to deal with a great deal of that commodity called money.

    Get books and recordings by these three and find out for yourself if you are ready to become a millionaire.

  16. Great post, Tina. And a good reminder too because everyone here in MA this week has had ‘lottery fever’.

  17. Tiffany

    $ def does not equal happiness great post


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