Do you have to be Rich to be Happy?

by Chad E Cooper

Believe it or not, my answer is YES. Everybody wants me to say no, but I think it’s Pollyanna for us to say, “No, you don’t have to be rich to be happy.” If you’re going to participate in the material world, you must know what money means. Do you need money? Yes… But, being rich is defined well beyond the monetary things in life. In my opinion being rich is about the 4 quadrants of life. Physical, Logical, Emotional, and Spiritual. Whether you’re rich in spirit, rich in your bank account, rich in your willingness to have charity or support others beyond yourself.

Ultimately, what does it means to be rich? I invite you to be rich in your heart and in your bank account at the same time. It’s about creating that harmony and balance that we’re truly striving for, not a fancy car or big prestigious house. People who are only abundantly wealthy in their heart, may have to rely on somebody else’s generosity to support them in the material world; or they can be materially wealthy and poor in spirit and still not achieve happiness. We have all seen famous Hollywood celebrities and popular singers who are very wealthy but are spiritually poor and unhappy.

What does having a large amount of money do for you? It gives you choices. Choice is what people are really striving for. Money can’t buy love, health or time. It’s also not the amount of money you spend, but rather how you spend it that determines your level of richness. I often hear people say they still want to contribute to others and do all kinds of altruistic things after they get rich. My response is “Don’t tell me where your priorities are, show me where you’re actually spending your money right now. Many people make the mistake in believing that being rich is simply a matter of having a lot of money and that’s going to allow them to get their priorities in line. This is just not true, in fact it can lead you to brokenness with first achieving clarity.

Many times, it’s a matter of finding out what it is that you truly want first? Do you want health, someone to love and share your wealth with? Do you want the ability to travel and experience the world? Are you looking for the ability to live in a safe uplifting environment, with the best schools for your children to grow and learn? I say, yes to all the above! According to Mark Twain “The two most important days of your life are the day you’re born and the day you find out why.” And some of us go an entire lifetime without understanding that second piece, finding out the why.

The one thing all humans have in common is the desire to be loved. And what we need to understand is that our purpose is a set of feelings not stuff. Enlightened, wise people, including many of our elders as they get older understand that richness is how you want to feel. Do you wake up each day and have choices? Do you wake up and live a day that’s designed by you to feel exactly what you want?

Here are some ideas on how to find your inner core values and your core characteristics that can help you understand your “why.” First do you know who you are? Are you somebody that shows up on time? Are you somebody who has gratitude for what you have? Are you kind and show curtesy toward others? Do you speak your truth in love? Did you know your inner core values influence your money? Whether having a lot or too little money often keeps us away from the feelings we don’t want to experience. One core value that most have is to feel good about our accomplishments, to feel joyful, feel jubilant, and money allows us to do that. But if you tie your core value to money, then you stop other things from making you feel joyful, fulfilled or jubilant. As Tony Robbins said very well, “The best way to help the poor is to not be one yourself.”

It is very important that we know our core values to keep them aligned with our money. Understand the Yin and the Yang of money follows great work, not the other way around. Money is simply the byproduct of doing your purposeful work and serving your purpose. When you’re aligned with your gifts and your talents; matching the things that you’ve learned in this world with those you were born with, then you can figure out how create a better service or product that people need. Serving as an employee or as an entrepreneur becomes merely the toolset to express your gifts and talents and either can allow a great deal money to follow. In other words, you don’t have to be an entrepreneur to be rich.

Finding our core values can be difficult with the illusion that Hollywood and advertising has created in a warped vision of the American dream. Becoming rich can be like going down the yellow brick road in the Wizard of Oz. But that doesn’t happen unless you’re willing to get uncomfortable. What is your willingness to get uncomfortable and what is your level of grit you possess? Because when I look at the yellow brick road and the story of Dorothy, she had to take a journey to get to what she desired. She had to have one of her core values of courage lead. She had to have heart to see it through and she had to exercise her brain to make right choices. With her core values serving and leading her, she helped other people discover what they needed along the journey. She also had grit that when things got tough, she stayed on the road. Anyone can understand their purpose, but without consistency, persistence, and grit, you’re going to step off that road and get lost. Staying on course sometimes may get uncomfortable but that’s OK.

How does your family history or those past experiences effect you attaining the richness you desire? I believe that our families absolutely influence us and can absolutely influence the environment that we’re in. But, ultimately, it’s the meaning we give to those past experiences that matters. There was a famous study about two identical twin brothers from an alcoholic father. One became an alcoholic and said, “I’m an alcoholic because my father was an alcoholic.” The other says, “I’m successful and I have been abundantly prosperous because my father was an alcoholic and I didn’t want to be that.” Did you come from a difficult, maybe terrible environment? Are you using that as an excuse or as an explanation on where you are in life? Some people can use their family or their environment as leverage to move away from pain and it can be a very powerful lever. We’ve all seen the person from an inner city whose family had absolutely nothing head out on their yellow brick road and become someone rich in every way. Oprah Winfrey become a role model and inspiration. She lives by her core values and grit. She just won the Cecil DeMille award, and was the first African-American woman to do so. A hard family history can brainwash us, but ultimately, we must choose if it’s going to shape our core.

“No one can make you do anything without first gaining your consent.” 
 — Eleanor Roosevelt

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will. 
 — Gandhi

Happiness is an inside job. 
 — Abraham Lincoln

Our environment can influence us, but the meanings we give to those experiences determines the emotions that we’re going to feel from those experiences. So, is money is something that is serving you so that you can take care of yourself, have choices, feel secure, feel significant; or maybe it’s allowing you to be loved by others? Then more will follow because it matches your core values.

Let me offer 5 steps to assist you to move towards being very rich.

1) Discover your purpose and core values. History in great leaders, scholars, scientists, etc., have all said that when they were great it was because they understood their purpose.

2) Get uncomfortable to grow your comfort zone by taking calculated risks. Open a savings account even if you can only see being able to save five dollars a month at first. You must save first, and spend the difference, not the other way around.

3) Money loves clarity. Health loves clarity. Relationships love clarity. Get abundantly and crystal clear on what you want, AND what you’re willing to give in exchange for that desired goal.

4) Buy experiences not things! Experiences allow us to tell the story again and again and again for a lifetime because experiences create and generate feelings and emotions that are ultimately what we want. We don’t want just things. We want what those things are going to allow us to feel.

5) Ask yourself this question… How will this purchase change the way I use my time?

From this point on if you’re clear what rich means, then you can achieve it. Being rich is the ability to enjoy the journey, not just the finish line. As the singer, Harry Chapin said, “It’s not the getting there, it’s the going there that’s good.”

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