Every now and again I am reminded of a particular truth. And you may have noticed that I used the word ‘truth’. That was intentional. I wrote truth instead of a more general term like observation, notion or idea.
My reason for doing this is that what I’m about to say is something that most people, deep down, find unbelievable. So, I wrote ‘truth’ in hopes of leading you towards the acceptance of a premise. A premise which most people are resistant to. Now here comes that truth I told you about: “Money does not buy happiness.” That’s it. And yes, I know that you’ve heard this before. Many times, right? In fact, you’ve probably heard it so many times that you might be thinking, “Yeah Mike, everybody knows that.” But here’s the thing. Although we’ve all heard that expression, almost nobody believes it. Not really.
Deep down, we think that we’d be the exception. We’d be the ones who’d be totally cool with lots of money. We’d never become paranoid, hyper-stressed or self-absorbed. Not us. So, what’s my deal? Why do I feel like I can make this statement with conviction? Here’s why…
Before the latest chapter in my professional life [the coaching/consultant work I’ve been doing for the past five or so years] I spent from 2006 to 2011 providing bodyguard services to the richest men on the planet. How rich? The richest. Some people you’ve heard of and some that you haven’t. Five years spent within arm’s reach of the world’s most successful executives. And one of the biggest lessons I took from those years is that, (here it comes again) money does not buy happiness. It doesn’t even rent it. It used to always surprise me that some of the most miserable people I ever encountered were billionaires. With a ‘B’. And it wasn’t just the cliché of ‘mo money, ‘mo problems. Although that’s true too. But not only does money not buy happiness, it also doesn’t buy gratitude, empathy, insight or compassion.
Now, among all the ultra-wealthy types I spent time around, there were some who were amazing and gracious people. But they were the minority. Overwhelmingly, the people I encountered from this world were not happy. And when absent from all of the distractions that their wealth provided them, in their quietest moments, they were often very unhappy. The experience of those years had a profound impact on me. And is probably a key reason why I don’t focus on finances as my terminal objective. Instead, I have oriented my priorities on making myself better and appreciating the opportunities that my unusual life affords me. And, because of what I choose to focus on, I have become wealthy beyond measure. With riches no man can ever take away.