When you hear the word rich, what comes to mind? What does being rich really mean? Maybe you think of lots of money, a private jet, and a mansion. Maybe you think of traveling the world or being able to quit your job and never worrying about money. Who doesn’t want to be rich?
Of course, we all want to be rich. Whether we believe we can achieve that or not is another topic entirely. But why do we want to be rich? The truth is that we fall into this trap of thinking that money can be used to buy happiness. So in reality, we don’t want to be rich, we want to live arich life. We want to be happy.
To start with, we all need enough money to meet our basic needs plus a little extra to cover our wants and feel secure about our future. Research on happiness and income suggest that this number is somewhere around $75,000 per year for most people living in the U.S. However, it is important to consider a person’s expenses, not just income. If you are living paycheck to paycheck at this income level, you may be creating unnecessary financial stress for yourself.
Once we reach a level where our basic needs (and some wants) are met, money does not increase our happiness or contentment with life. Some people continue to chase bigger and bigger paychecks thinking that if they just made a little more money they would finally feel satisfied.
However, chasing money while ignoring the aspects of life that really make it worth living causes stress, depression, and general dissatisfaction. This is likely to deplete your energy and motivation. It can also have a seriously negative impact on your mental and physical health as well as your relationships.
If you spend time enriching your life, in addition to increasing your finances, you can strike an ideal balance and cause synergistic growth. True happiness isn’t about purely hedonist pleasure. Living a rich life means doing things that are good for you and others. Instead of feeling depleted, you will feel full of energy, motivation, and drive.
How do you live a rich life?
Engage in activities that foster a flow state. Flow is a state of being in which you lose yourself in what you are doing. Leading researcher in flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, describes flow as a focused sense of ecstasy and serenity. He states that flow creates a focus on the present and a sense of timelessness. You can achieve flow in nearly any activity that you enjoy and engage in often. This could be playing an instrument, writing, painting, or even working.
2. Foster resiliency
Life is hard and pain is part of life. If you see hardships as obstacles or failures, you are more likely to become discouraged. Instead, see challenges as learning experiences. Instead of catastrophizing, ask how you can solve a problem or learn a new coping skill. Successful people are resilient and have continued working towards their goals despite setbacks and disappointments.
3. Intrinsic goals
These are goals that are their own reward. Intrinsic goals may be related to personal growth, relationships, or desire to help others. Extrinsic goals, on the other hand, are goals to get something else such as image, status, or money. People who are more oriented towards extrinsic goals tend to be more depressed and have higher levels of stress while people with more intrinsic goals are happier and have more vitality.
4. Live your values
People are happier when their behaviors are in line with their values. What you value is what you consider to be important in life. Many people hold family to be a personal value but then spend the majority of their time away from family working. When you don’t live in accordance with what you value, you create internal conflict and dissatisfaction with life. Identify your main values and consider how to put them into actions.
People are social animals. We need each other for survival and for fulfillment. It is well established that depression is associated with social isolation. Research has demonstrated that there are measurable neurobiological changes when people cooperate with others and when people touch someone they love. These changes in our brain decrease stress and increase pleasure. Make sure to dedicate real quality time, free from distraction, with the people who are most important in your life. Also consider widening your social network to find new mentors, partners, and business opportunities.
Money is a necessary part of life. While it cannot be used to buy happiness, people who are happier tend to be more productive, healthier, and live longer. Living a rich life can make you wealthier but also enable you to actually enjoy what you have. Keep in mind that “living a rich life” is a process, not a destination. You constantly strive towards an ideal. So learn to enjoy the journey!