We have a tendency to equate success based on what we have or what we earn. I grew up thinking the more money I had, the more successful I was, and that more was always better. I spent much of my life chasing the elusive dream, the house, car, corporate titles and earned a lot of money in the process but it was doing this that made me realise material wealth does not make me happy, in fact, it can have the opposite effect. I worked all hours to earn more money, but it left me with no time to do the things I really enjoyed and to live my life, beyond the material.
Over the past couple of years, I have made the transition from corporate high flyer to struggling artist. I’ve gone from a regular salary, company car and a house by the beach to signing on at the jobcentre and cleaning toilets at ashrams whilst I wrote my first book and taught yoga. But I’ve never been happier and wouldn’t swap places with my old life for any amount of money. Yes it’s hard and being poorer is often a struggle for the basics I used to take for granted; rent payments and not being able to afford a car for example. Having experienced both extremes, it’s taught me a number of valuable lessons.
What We Have Within Us is Much More Valuable Than Money
We all have gifts within us that are often undervalued. Every skill we have been a valuable gift, not just to ourselves but to others. This may be a listening ear, a strong pair of hands to help with jobs or a kind heart that can see when someone is in need.
Ask yourself now; what’s your gift worth?
Whilst I used to be paid well for my business skills, I now realise I have many more skills within to share. Just because these are not paid does not make them any less valuable. I used to give money to charities, but now I give my time instead and find this so much more fulfilling. Time is so often more valuable than money. If you asked most corporate executives what they’d prefer; more money or more time, they’d pick the latter.
Our society has conditioned us to believe that money and status is a reflection of how important we are. But you can tell more about a person by looking in his heart than you can in his wallet. I know now that people can be wealthy in more than just money and these are the people I prefer to be around, they nourish my soul and lighten my heart.
It is Possible for a Poor Person to Live a Rich Life
It is possible for a poor person to live a rich life and it is equally possible for rich people to live a life void of all that matters and, therefore, be unhappy. It is also true that having lots of money enables us to do many good things with it, if only more of the richest people in today word felt that way. Whilst money can make the outside beautiful (buying clothes, makeup, plastic surgery etc) but it cannot change what is in the heart.
I’m not oblivious to the necessity of money in today’s world. I know I need to earn a certain amount to afford to live even a simple life. And of course, this gets even more critical if you have dependants to support. But sometimes it feels like we’ve overstepped the mark. We run our countries like our businesses and like our lives, making money has become the number one priority but in reality it is not. Our number 1 priority in life is survival, the things we need more than money are our health, love and purpose. We cannot buy this stuff.
I’ve learned How to be Wealthy, Even When My Wallet is Empty
My external pursuit for happiness left me empty handed and burned out. I did not find it in the status, financial wealth, material possessions. I have learned that happiness resides within and is much more about who we are than what we have. The best things in life are not really things at all and I’ve learned to appreciate all the conditions that already exist for happiness, if only we’re not too busy chasing the never ending pursuit in the other direction.
I’m grateful for all I have, I find happiness in seeing a beautiful sunset, laughing with friends, walks on the beach and watching my young nephew play. When you have less, life becomes simpler and for me this has put into perspective the things I really value in my life; my health, the opportunity to do yoga daily, connecting with nature, spending time with my family
I spend time every day being grateful for the little things, much independent of money; the air we breathe, fresh water, my family. I have learned how to be wealthy, even when my wallet is empty.