A week ago I was out to dinner with colleagues and I made an insensitive joke. It kind of went something like, “how could a billionaire ever be miserable. They have bank accounts with more than 5 zeros!” A week later, a well-known Australian billionaire stands down from his company because he needs time to take care of himself and his mental health. The same issues I mocked a week before.
It got me thinking…why do we associate money with happiness?
In my early twenties I used to believe that if I lost 10 kilos and won the lotto, I would be ‘happy’ for the rest of my life. I’m hoping it was my immaturity and not my vanity that made me think the way I did. But the truth is, in the last 10 years I have been through a financial rut, a couple of jobs, started a marriage and along the way, seemed to pick up the ‘worry’ gene. This gene replaced any resemblance of immaturity [you find your ‘mature’ when you least expect it] and body issues, but my obsession with money hung on. If I just earned more, saved more, had more, I would be happy.
“Happy” – like it was some kind of mystical destination I was put on the planet to find.
I can probably speak on behalf of all readers when I say that at one time or another we have dreamed of winning the lottery. Am I right? We dream about waking up to the news we have won the path to our “forever happiness” and all our problems will simply melt away. Because money can solve everything. Sound familiar? Unfortunately though, the answer isn’t that simple. Our relationship with money and happiness isn’t that simple.
These days, social media and the constant need for instant gratification has turned us into jealous, ungrateful, out-of-touch brats wanting more of everything, including money. We have strangers trolling us online, banks approving credit cards to people who shouldn’t have credit cards to fulfill some materialistic need, and companies making millions off our insecurities. We’re made to believe having more money will equal increased happiness but since James Packer’s resignation this week, it would appear that’s not the case. He has more money than any one of us could possibly dream about, but yet he’s missing his ‘happy’.
So, why is the billionaire unhappy?
Because people, whether we want to believe it or not, the human psyche needs more than money to fulfill our requirements for happiness. We need purpose. Yes that’s right, the thing you can’t buy, touch or feel.
For so long, my version of “happy” was a destination, not the journey that its supposed to be. And all my definitions of happiness were wrapped up in money. If I just got a better job, I could earn more. If I could just afford this outfit, I would look better. But James reminded me that nothing will ever be enough if I continue down this path. I need to make a change and I need to show the tribe of Fearless Female Traders that your life and its happiness isn’t defined by a bank account or shares. Sure it’s important to pay your bills and secure a comfortable life, but don’t get confused with money as the solution to all. It’s a dangerous place to be, I should know.
Opening your eyes to a life appreciating your health, building your wealth and finding your happiness is where I’m headed, and I want you to join me too. Want to know how to get there?
It all starts with your purpose:
- If you have all the money in the world but don’t have a purpose, or a ‘why’, you’re only destined for emptiness. When I found myself in a state of unemployment and uncertainty, I struggled to connect with my ‘why’ – why am I important, why did I bother with the MBA, why do my friends love me, why am I feeling alone but surrounded by everything? I don’t deal well with ambiguity, so when I’m feeling lost, I connect back to my why. Those who connect their purpose to materialistic power or hashtag likes and followers will tend to struggle when money disappears or the followers dry up. Your purpose is who you are when everything else is taken away. Find that person, and make it your anchor.
- Love is incredibly powerful and having the right people around you who love and respect you despite your imperfections is important. Money has a way of skewing relationships towards what it can offer other people, instead of celebrating the value of a friendship or relationship for the people who are in it. Money may give you the best TV on the market, but it’s only time before a newer model is available and what you have is redundant. Don’t be the redundant tv. Surround yourself with genuine relationships that challenge you and celebrate you for who you are, not what you have.
- Embrace the sh*tty times because they help build resilience. Strength, independence and resilience are only borne out of the tough times. Rich people struggle to deal with challenges because everything has always come easy to them. It’s also the reason why the rates of depression are higher in those with huge wealth. Resilience isn’t something you can feel or touch, but you better believe it is a superpower that will trump any lottery win, any day of the week.
I never thought I’d say this but thank you Mr Packer. You reminded me that happiness is far more important than money…even when it seems you have it all.
Fearless Female Traders