Previously, we examined how routines can help us when working towards happiness and purpose. We also discussed how we can apply the concepts of finding happiness while working towards physical and mental health.
Chapters in this guide:
Part 1 - Finding Happiness
Part 2 - The Meaning Of Life
Part 3 - The Most Important Thing In Life
Part 4 - How To Become Wealthy
Part 5 - Learning To Love
Part 6 - Know Yourself First
In this part, we will look at the concept of wealth. Does wealth provide happiness? What does it mean to be wealthy? Let's find out!
The importance of wealth
Happiness often seems to be limited by wealth. After all, not having money is the reason why we have to dedicate the better part of our lives to study and work, something that not all of us enjoy. If we had money, we would be able to do whatever we want, right?
The fact is, we need money to survive. It pays for our shelter, our food, and our utilities. As such, money is indispensable in today's society.
When we link wealth to our happiness, however, the connection becomes more vague. Is wealth required for happiness?
The obvious answer is no - after all, there are a lot of people that are poor but are still happy. Still, wealth is good to have. After all, there's a kind of quote that goes:
I would rather cry in a BMW than be on top of a bike laughing.
If you have no money, you have an additional stress point on top of everything else. You'll worry about whether you are able to pay your bills, being unable to find a job or even losing your job. You'll worry about whether you can support yourself and the people you love.
If you have achieved financial freedom, then you have one less stress point, giving you one less big thing to worry about. That's why wealth is important for happiness.
The two methods of financial freedom
Wealth is important - but the process in working towards financial freedom is important too. There are two main ways that people adopt when chasing financial freedom.
The first is to achieve financial freedom as quickly as possible. This means making sacrifices on your lifestyle, such as saving aggressively, not travelling as much, and working hard to grow your main income and side income through investing and side hustles.
This method can also be termed as a short-term loss for a long-term gain. By sacrificing your personal happiness temporarily to gain wealth, you speed towards financial freedom as early as you can to remove that financial stress point.
Of course, if you derive joy from your work, then this method would be optimal for you. You gain happiness while accumulating wealth, and you get to financial freedom quickly. With wealth out of the way, you can then focus on the other aspects of happiness.
The problem then, is for the second type of person who doesn't derive joy from working, or whose passion involves something that can't generate enough money sustainably for financial freedom (e.g. art).
These kind of people appear to be the majority, with only 13% of people worldwide being actually interested in and loving their work.
Of course, I hesitate to trust surveys like these since it is simply not possible to survey the global workforce with any reasonable amount of accuracy.
Still, I believe that there's at least some truth in the matter - that most of us simply work for wealth, and not because we love to work.
Sure, after achieving financial freedom, many people will continue to work jobs that they find meaningful because it gives them something to look forward to.
However, they will do so only on their own terms, and because it makes them happy. This job may or may not bring them monetary benefits, and some may even require monetary contribution from them.
For the majority of these people, they will spend the better years of their life (the 20s and 30s) working on things they don't love. They will do things that they don't prefer doing, but have to do because it sustains them.
Do you want to sacrifice happiness for the sake of wealth in the best years of your life?
There's a second method, though, that builds upon the concept of coasting financial independence. The concept is that instead of achieving true financial freedom, which requires the generation of a large amount of wealth, you are content with a moderate amount of wealth.
This means that as you accumulate wealth and passive income through investments, you slowly start to shift to less stressful jobs and/or jobs that you have a passion in doing that pays less.
In essence, the first method asks you to work a job that pays well practically, and dedicate your time and effort to generate income and spend less in order to rush towards financial freedom. In the process you may sacrifice your happiness to do so.
The second method asks you to work a job and do the same investments, but instead of rushing towards financial freedom, you slowly remove your stress points, allowing you to work towards happiness slowly.
By delaying the time in which you achieve financial freedom, you get to spread out the stress during the time it takes for you to get there.
Honestly, both ways work. It depends on you which one you want to pick in order to balance wealth and happiness.
Learning to be happy while poor
Regardless of which method you prefer, it's important for us to learn how to be happy even when we're lacking in wealth - and have those lessons carry over when we achieve financial freedom (when we have wealth).
In the cruel reality of life, you simply can't count your chickens before they hatch. It is very easy to imagine how great life would be after you become wealthy.
However, imagining that happiness will be a given after achieving wealth would be jumping the gun. What can you do when you're rich that would make you happier than you are now?
Buying luxury goods? Not having to work? Travelling often? Yes, those things may remove stress points in your life, but happiness isn't an on-off switch that you can simply activate at will. It's something that requires you to work towards.
If you weren't happy when you are not wealthy, chances are, you still won't be fully happy even if you have achieved wealth. To learn to be happy, we must first learn how to make happiness independent on wealth.
In truth, the journey to happiness must begin long before you have even achieved wealth, and even on the journey towards wealth itself.
This is because money is just a tool for us to achieve our long-term goals. If we keep shackling our happiness with wealth, then we'll never achieve happiness until we're wealthy - and even then, we'll find new things to be unhappy about.
There are a lot of things in life that money can't buy, and happiness is one of them.
Conversely, learning how to separate your happiness from wealth benefits your mental health and helps you to develop better habits for self-improvement regardless of whether you are wealthy or not.
It allows you to work towards happiness now, instead of some arbitrary time in the future "when you're rich", which may or may not happen. What if you become wealthy, but you never feel that you are wealthy enough? Does it mean you'll never be happy?
I'm sure that we've all read somewhere to "live in the moment". We shouldn't have to give up on our current happiness to chase the faraway notion of a wealthy happiness.
In essence, our goal is to let wealth contribute to our happiness, and not let happiness depend on wealth.
There are several key concepts to examine in learning how to be happy when poor - and even when you have achieved wealth.
Separating your needs from wants
The first concept is to separate what you need from what you want. It's important to note that this concept does not only apply to materialistic objects, but also to all aspects of life as well.
When we say "need", we don't mean things that are required for survival. Needs can include things that we deem necessary for our improvement.
Conversely, wants are things that are in excess of our needs.
For example, we might need a cellphone to carry out our daily tasks, contact others or even play games when we are bored.
But do we need the latest and most high-end cellphone to do the same functions? If we do, then it's a need. If not, then it becomes a want.
It is important to separate needs from wants because wants never end. The next year, a newer model is going to come out, and you're going to want it again. It's a vicious never-ending cycle.
Appreciating and being satisfied that our needs have been fulfilled is beneficial to our mental health. Besides a healthy mind, being satisfied with having our needs fulfilled also helps us save money.
This concept is important to internalize in all other aspects of our life, even when we become wealthy.
|Necessary for your goals||Excessively achieves your goals|
|Is very important to you||Is good to have|
|You'll use it often||You'll like it for a while|
|Long term happiness||Short term happiness|
|A few||Infinitely many|
|Can be difficult/expensive to achieve|
To find happiness (in all aspects, not just wealth), we must be clear of our needs and wants, and learn to be satisfied with our needs.
Sure, once in a while, we can treat ourselves and satisfy a want, but if we keep chasing our wants, we'll never be happy as there is no end to wants.
Chasing lasting happiness
The next concept of learning to be happy is to chase lasting happiness instead of temporary ones.
If you've ever bought something brand new, you might have realized that you will treasure it for a while, treating it with lots of care. After several weeks or months though, we start to treasure it less and begin to toss it around.
At the time of unwrapping, you may have felt a tinge of happiness, but after a while, that fades away and you just treat it like any old object.
The most important takeaway here is that there are varying kinds of happiness. Some last for a very long time, while others are fleeting and temporary. Often, the most precious happiness we get are those that last longer.
The most lasting happiness are experiences and memories that are worth cherishing. Whether we are wealthy or not, don't be afraid to chase experiences and memories, because these are where lasting happiness are created.
The least lasting happiness are those that are born from a want, and not a need. This can include material objects, thoughtless gifts and impulsive decisions.
While these can provide temporary happiness, it's a happiness that neither lasts nor pays recurring dividends in the future.
Focus on saving up and searching for experiences that provide lasting happiness, like road trips, or just a simple meaningful gift and 2 am talks about life.
The people that you experience it with, as well as the experience itself, will become embedded into your memory for years to come.
The important thing is that even when we aren't wealthy, we can continue chasing for experiences and memories that make us happy. Don't be afraid to splurge on the things that truly matter. We only have one life - make the most of it.
Understanding what makes you happy
Ultimately, regardless or whether we are wealthy or not, the most important concept is to know what truly makes us happy.
Again, this all starts with your knowing your personality type, and what you like and dislike. There's really no point forcing yourself to change who you are to fit some preconceived notion of happiness.
You know what you truly want. And that's it. Go ahead, do the pragmatic things that you have to do, as long as you never truly forget what will make you happy.
Along the long path to wealth and beyond, you'll be faced with a lot of decisions like what job you should take on, the things you should study and the skills that you should learn.
You'll also meet many different people, some supportive, some disruptive, as they come in and out of your life.
Knowing what you like and what you dislike will help you in making choices all throughout your life. Always choose the path and the choice that makes you happy.
Focus on the things you can control
Wealth can be deceptive in that without it, many things appear out of reach or impossible to achieve. This can range from large goals like building a dream home, to smaller things like eating out at a fancy restaurant on a Sunday.
This doesn't just apply to wealth, but rather all the things that plague us in our day to day lives.
Often, the inability to do something can be crippling to our motivation as we try to be happy. The thing is, if we keep lamenting about the things that we can't control, we would get nowhere.
Wherever you are, and whatever you do, there will always be a problem that is out of your control.
Why worry about the things that you can't control? By constantly thinking about them, not only do you not make things better, you will make things worse for yourself and your mental state of mind.
The best thing to do in dealing with these scenarios is to simply not care at all. The world is so vast with so many problems. Even your life itself is filled with so many issues, big or small, that you cannot possibly hope to solve.
By narrowing our focus to the things that we can hope to solve, we free our mind up to deal with the things within our control. Things that we can change and make an impact on.
Remember, working towards happiness requires a hope of success to give us the motivation for consistency. Working on unsolvable problems does nothing to help us with that.
Slowly improve your life by consistently working on the things within your control one by one in a routine. Someday, you'll look back and see how far you have come.
In this part, we examined the concept of wealth in relation to happiness. It is important to acknowledge that money is indispensable today for a good life.
However, it is also imperative to separate your individual happiness from wealth. Wealth should contribute to happiness, and happiness should not depend on wealth.
We then examined several core concepts to apply in your life to chase lasting happiness, and talked about working on things within your control to improve your life slowly but surely.
True wealth means being happy. What I'm trying to say is that we need to really understand what it means when we say that you don't need to be rich to be happy.
Let's look at an analogy. A cupcake on its own is tasty enough. But, having a little cream or sprinkles can't hurt and makes it that much better instead.
Similarly, if we regard our happiness and life as a cupcake, then our goal is to make wealth into the sprinkles on that cupcake. Good to have - and we'll certainly add it if we can, but we should't make it necessary for our happiness.
Sure, more money would be good. But whether you're the richest person on earth, or are still trying to make ends meet, happiness is a universal thing.
Being truly wealthy means that you are satisfied with what you are, rich or poor, and working towards the things that you truly love. Having and building wealth just helps you along that goal.
In the next part, we'll look at the last portion of happiness - love, and all its intricacies.
Next part: Coming soon!
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