Over the years, I've had countless people ask me: "Neil, what's it like to make millions of dollars? You must be so happy!"
And the truth is they're right, I am happy. But not because of the millions I've made.
Through all of the good times and bad I can't say I've ever felt true happiness from the dollars in my bank account.
We can all agree that it's nice to have financial security. No one wants to worry about paying bills. But even with this security, happiness eluded me.
It was a puzzle I was determined to solve and through all the ups and down I've learned some essential lessons I'll share with you today.
Becoming RichIn the beginning of my journey, my goal was to be rich, plain and simple. And to be honest I don't even feel rich... heck I even feel broke compared to some of my friends.
I worked hard for every dollar earned and because of that hard work, I got to live that is much more privileged than my parents have..
Here are just a few of the things I spent (more so wasted) money on:
- Luxury condos
- Fancy restaurants
- Expensive watches
- Designer clothes
On paper it looks like I had won the game of life. But there was something missing from this lifestyle.
I couldn't quite pinpoint it, but I knew something was wrong. I had to take a step back and figure out what needed to be done.
Defining HappinessHappiness is a word that gets tossed around a lot in our culture, but what does it actually mean?
At its root, happiness is a warm and fuzzy feeling. It's an emotion that feels good, so naturally we want more of it.
Not only do we want more of it, we want it to last forever. We want to perpetually live our lives in a bubble of warm and fuzzy feelings, but very few people even get close to this.
Why is that? It's because throughout our lives we've been told that happiness comes from acquiring more money. Just like a video game, if you can reach the high score you'll get the grand prize.
So I followed what society told me and I fought for those dollars. I hustled night and day in my business to achieve a high level of success and I eventually made it to the "Promised Land". But when I finally got there, the grand prize was not waiting for me. In fact, nothing was waiting for me. I had been sold a lie and I paid for it dearly.
Achieving Long-Lasting HappinessSo how does one acquire such an elusive feeling? Well, you can go the route I went and buy a bunch of stuff. You'll definitely feel happiness, but it will be fleeting.
- After the joy of owning a helicopter wore off, I just had an expensive flying object that I never used.
- After the joy of buying $100,000 watches wore off, I just had a piece of metal that I didn't even care got dinged.
- And after the joy of wearing designer clothes wore off, I went back to wearing white polos and jeans.
Those purchases wore off and I was left with the bill.
But through this realization, I learned something very important that would change the rest of my life.
Long-lasting happiness doesn't come from more money; it comes from the simple things in life.
- Time spent with family.
- Laughs shared with friends.
- Memories from the good ol' days.
I know it sounds cliché, but these are the things that last.
When I lost all of my money at the age of 21, I wasn't consoled by an expensive watch, I was consoled by my parents. They were there for me and that made me truly happy.
I wish I could give you a magical formula that will make you happy forever, but I cannot. Instead, I have good news: you already possess the ability to be happy.
The Honest Truth About My LifestyleWhile you may think that I'm a big shot with a fancy car and nice homes, you would be surprised to know that I don't own a car. In fact, the only homes I own are purely for investment purposes. I gave up the home I lived in to become a nomad.
I keep my life simple. This definitely helps me focus on business, but more importantly it helps my happiness.
I don't have to worry about big bills and fleeting emotions. I'm a genuinely happy person. No, I am not riding on sunshine and rainbows; no one is perfect all the time. I have bad days just like everyone else.
But I am far happier at this point in my life than I've ever been and it didn't come from acquiring more money, it came from simplifying and prioritizing the right things.
- The more time I spend with my family and friends, the more memories I create.
- The more memories I create, the happier I become.
- The happier I become, the more time I want to spend with family and friends.
It's a positive feedback loop and it just keeps compounding.
ConclusionSo to answer the question once and for all, does money buy happiness?
If you're seeking the almighty dollar, I definitely don't want to stop you. Money is nice, but don't expect all of your problems to go away.
Financial security is important and you should definitely try to achieve a baseline of financial independence, but don't get lost along the way.
Just enjoy the ride and take in the moment. Because money comes and goes, but the simple things in life will always be there.
Image Credit: Getty Images
Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.