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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. Such a great article Tina, and particularly important at this time of year when people make all sorts of decisions about what matters.

    What really jumped out was this – “It is only in the now that we have power”. It basically comes down to a decision.

    What you decide to engage with right now determines your experience of life, and if you’re engaging with the wrong things or choosing to interpret what you’re engaging with in the wrong ways then happiness will always be elusive.

  2. Tina,

    I saw the news this morning (which yes can be very depressing). I saw one of the winners of the big lottery from Tuesday. He had been a volunteer and leading food drives. For once, it seemed like the good guy won the lottery. :)

  3. The only aspect of life which equates happiness is
    1. doing what you love
    2. All else fall underneath.


    We spend a significant amount of our time at work. 8 or more hours a day. Our daily moods effect our lives. If you spend 8 or more a day doing something you don’t enjoy, how can you be happy. But if find yourself enthralled in 8 or more hours of an activity you love and enjoy….kiss depression goodbye.

    Sweet post Tina..Just like You ( cheerleader voice.Ohhhwoooooooo)
    echoing far in the distance.

  4. Tina,

    You have a typo. The Harvard study found the threshold to be $70,000 not $40,000 as you have typed it.

  5. I just lay down on my bed, closed my eyes and thought about this: what would I do differently if I earned $ 1 million a year?

    Before i lay down my expectation was that my life would change so radically that i would hardly have any issues.

    Surprisingly though – only a few aspects of my life would change. I would for instance live in a much larger house. I would eat at the best restaurants in town. And so many to her material benefits.

    The only real benefit of having so much money that I found was that I would definitely visit my girlfriend who lives hundreds of miles away ever so often. :)

    I would still continue writing on my website. I would still have the same joys and sorrows in my relationships. I would still roughly “feel” the same way throughout the day.

    This article definitely puts things in perspective for me. It tells me that whatever level of enjoyment I have in my life right now is not because of some financial problem but by my own choice. In this moment I can make my life as joyous as I would if I had a million dollars.

    Hmm. :) Thank you Tina.

  6. @ Jonathan Figaro although I disagree that going what you love is “the only aspect of life which equates happiness,” I am glad you mentioned it as it’s definitely up there. Here is how I would rank most important things in live:

    1. Health – try being happy when you are in pain every waking hour

    2. Family – try being happy when your personal life is upside down

    3. Love what you do – try being happy if you hate what you spend
    most of your awake time

    4. Financial independence/stability – in the words of Forrest Gump, “I got a call from him saying we don’t have to worry about money no more. And I said “That’s good. One less thing.”

  7. Skeptical

    Quoting one paragraph from your article:

    “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.”

    It just doesn’t make sense at all what you are saying in general.

    It is impossible for me to do right now what I would like to do if I had millions of dollars, obviously because I *lack* the money to do it.

    Obviously you need a certain amount of money to, for example, travel the world and go to those hotels you would like to go to (if they are expensive) and do all the expensive tours/excursions that all are very costly.

    Obviously you have to “revere” money enough to appreciate Napoleon Hill’s book, first to consider that you have every right to be rich and that being rich is not a sin or some materialistic shallow desire, which is indirectly what you are implying.

    This hypocritical idea that money doesn’t contribute to happiness is absurd in such a material world. Obviously money gives you, among other positive things, power.

    I am not interested in power, but I would certainly be much better prepared to face “threats” from powerful people (like your own boss in your job) if I had enough economic power myself.

    So please acknowledge at least that yes, we can be jealous about those who are better off financially than ourselves because obviously they at least don’t have to worry about money in such a materialistic world. Definitely they worry about the same things the rest of mortals do, but at least their money part is “solved”.

    • @Skeptical

      I hear what you’re saying and I can understand where you are coming from, for I have been there myself.

      Yes, you can be jealous. You have the right to do whatever you wish.
      But I can assure you that jealousy doesn’t bring you any bit closer to what you want, it can even push it away. Being jealous of people with more money or success, is like telling your subconscious mind that you don’t want to be that.

      I know plenty of people who wanted to travel the world with little money – some even without jobs. But the fact that they determined what they wanted, and started pursuing it (without knowing exactly how to get there)… that eventually, they found a way and made that a reality. In the end, they got to travel the world.

      Of all the people I’ve met who are wealthy over the million dollar mark, they all had one thing in common: optimism, and they lived with the believe that they will succeed. In other words, in their minds, they’ve already made their first million before actually taking any action towards it.

      It’s all a matter of mindset.

  8. I really like your post, Tina Su. It echoes a similar piece I’ve written about how we can achieve happiness despite not having material riches:

  9. Skeptical

    Hi Tina,

    I appreciate your reply and that you finally posted my comment.

    I also appreciate in general the contents of this website, which I discovered by chance, so my reply was specifically aimed at your post here.

    It is just that nowadays I see so many websites, blogs and what not about being positive, about the Law of Attraction, quantum physics, etc., which in many cases seem to be a plain new form of selling illusions and dreams that do not always come true for everyone, no matter how hard you sometimes try.

    I agree that obviously having a positive attitude can pave the way to getting more out of the tough path of life, but some of these new positive thinking fads really make me wonder what hidden profit agenda there is in some of the increasingly higher number of preachers of such ideas.

    I am sure you mean good and you wrote your post with the idea of sharing your thoughts about lottery million winnings.

    Still, I am skeptical about the idea (not only from you, because I have read similar things before in other websites or books) of belittling money and wealth, because I think the ideal world would be one where everyone were rich and only had to focus on developing better their inner self, in being also a rich humanity in terms of their spiritual life, without having to worry about the materialistic side of life.

    About being jealous of rich/wealthy people, it is not something that I really put that much thought into it, but I can certainly sigh at times when I see how “lucky” some people really are in terms of materialistic abundance, though not to the extent of feeling miserable or less because of this.

    Well, enough ranting.

    Keep up the good work here.

    • @Skeptical

      Aww.. thank you. You’re so nice. And I really do appreciate your thoughtful comments and different views. My husband is very good a challenging me, I’ve learned that it’s better, you learn and grow when your ideas and beliefs are challenged.

      When I wrote this article, it was with the intend of showing a general audience that “Hey, money isn’t the be all, end all, we all think it is.”

      But for the sake of transparency, when I was discussing this topic with my friend “Dani”, who said the following, which supports what you’re saying, and it’s so refreshing to hear, because it’s different. However, this is one person’s perspective. Dani said:

      I LOVE this quote: “Money is exactly like sex. You think of
      nothing else if you don’t have it, and think of other things if you

      It can be compared in so many ways. Think of a time in your life when you weren’t getting any sex. You probably thought it’d be SO nice to have sex again. Then you meet someone and have sex. It’s great at first. You might even binge. But after a while, it’s no big deal.
      Satisfied, you carry on with your life. But you have to admit it is a little better now that you’re able to have sex pretty much whenever you want.

      When people are thinking of what they’d do if they were a millionaire, they’re thinking of the binge. But that only lasts a bit, and then you have to think very carefully about how to make sure that million doesn’t disappear into bullshit consumption items.

      A friend (who was a young aspiring entrepreneur) asked me once, “God,how are you always so positive, and so happy? You don’t let anything get to you. How do you do that?” I thought honestly and said, “Well…. first you get a million dollars.”

      She just thought that was the funniest thing ever. Laughed for 10 minutes straight, because it’s so bluntly honest and un-PC to say. But yeah I’ll admit a HUGE reason I never sweat anything in life is because I know that no matter what, I’ll be OK.

      That said, I knew that when I had $10,000, too. I knew I could be resourceful and live on little, had skills to make some income, and be just fine.

  10. What a great post, Tina. The connection between money and happiness is definitely overstated in our world. Happiness is a choice that we can make no matter how many things we can buy. If I had a million dollars, I don’t think my life would change much. Other than relocating, which I plan to do anyway, I’d continue as I am along my path. I’m happy now.

  11. Sourav Banerjee


  12. Cru

    If I can buy my house outright and never be forced to wake up on a schedule again, I will have effectively bought happiness.

  13. Ryan

    It is very common for anyone to say that money doesn’t truly bring happiness. But that is not why most millionaires work to get there.

    Most of my relatives who are wealthy are not attracted by the spending potential. It is the challenge. It is the puzzle of life for them. To seek a fortune and be happy seeking for it. As well as to gain some form of acknowledgement for themselves that they can do what they think they can do.

    If you think about it in a big scale, the super wealthy individuals doesn’t always own the nicest things. Warren Buffet still live in the same place whether he is at 50 billion or 10 million net worth. What they were doing is still the same. Which is making money because they love their job. They like making money. Making it might be more enjoyable than spending it for them.

  14. Hi Tina,

    No amount of money can buy you happiness. The true path to happiness lies in the purpose of our soul. When we start to seek that wealth will automatically come. But wealth might not come in the form of money. It could come to ask through love, friendship, gifts, satisfaction health and so on. Your friend Dani, certainly found the right path to her millions, and I bet she is always happy because her soul is quenched.


  15. Interesting article Tina, I won a holiday on Friday and couldn’t belive my luck! I’ve never won anything before!

    Thanks SD

  16. evie j

    The article was good, but I beg to differ. Money would solve all the problems I face at this point in my life journey. I have no income, no car, a slim chance of earning money because i am liven nanny to my 16month old granddaughter. My daughter works hard and is a single mom. Money would allow her to take some time to fulfill her dreams of becoming financial independent within a business of her own. My son could get his teeth fixed. I could by him a car and a home, giving him a solid foundation to grow from. I am a happy person inspite of my financial difficulties…money would indeed help me and those I love.
    Thanks for listening.

  17. Mel Parrish, Jr.

    Then of course there are those… the few people on this earth whom God Himself has molded through hardship and toil, and groomed for the task of stewardship. They want not for themselves, but for the sake of others: for the disabled and the disadvantaged -And for the voiceless of this world. For them, the cheerful givers! It is not a reward, but an enablement. And it’s no great burden but a true labor of love! To live and be as kings in the world is more than a privilege, or a right, but it is their responsibility as they see it. Not to be served but to serve as they know only too well that they are but the stewards of His wealth and leaders only by example. What better example is there than that of philanthropy and brotherly love?

  18. Dora Nixon

    First time reader and from searching on Pub. Clearing House site.
    While money can’t buy happiness, it can provide a lot of occasions for fun. I have no desire to have a huge house, drive the largest car and never want to travel the world over. I love the USA and at 70, I’ve been in 33 of our 50 states. I go to few movies but saw one some years back about a “Bucket List” and a desire rose up in me to see all 50 states before I kick the bucket. Actually I would be happy to see 48 states, although I would like to go to Alaska but doubt I could stand flying to Hawaii as I almost went beserk flying from FL to CA once on a business trip with my husband (of 46 years on March 20th!). These are the states I’d like to visit: OK, KS, NE, SD, ND, MT, ID, WY, NV, UT, CO, AZ, NM, IA, MO.
    Thanks for listening.

  19. Jon Smith

    I find this blog interesting. I’m a multimillionaire businessman. 12 years ago I didn’t have a pot to p** in! I was $10,000 overdrawn with no career prospects and living a pretty dull life. Aged 20 I decided to get of my lazy arse and set up an Internet company, which has grown from strength to strength. My ambitition wasn’t to become a millionaire or make lots of money, I just wanted to improve my life so I could afford to stand on my own two feet, without having to depend on my parents. Money for me has brought a certain amount of happiness, for sure. I don’t have to worry about paying the mortgage or providing for my family. I’m not materialistic. I live in a modest house and drive a fairly normal car. Yes I did once own a Ferrari, but sold it after one year as found it uncomfortable.

  20. Actually that’s really interesting, because I remember being a lot happier as a student, with no money, than now with a six figure job. I had a lot more time and a lot more dreams too. Now, it is a bit strange thinking that the future is now.

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