Ingrid Berman, the late award-winning actress, was quoted as saying, “Success is getting what you want; happiness is wanting what you get.”
If you ask most people, “What do you really want?” the answers will vary, but the first thing out of a lot of people’s mouths will be “More money.”
However, a more pointed question is: “What positive experience do you associate with having more money?”
The answers usually point toward the real wants: more freedom, security, peace of mind, power, pleasure—some of which meet our most basic needs; some just seem like what people should have and sounds good in theory.
Now dig even deeper and consider: does having more money absolutely mean having more freedom, more security, or more peace of mind?
Now let’s flip the question: does not having money mean you can’t have freedom, security, or peace of mind, etc.—those qualities we tend to associate with happiness?
These concepts we value can’t be thought of as destinations in the future when such-and-such happens.
“When I have X-amount of money in my bank account, then I’ll feel secure.”
“I’ll be happier when I find that special someone.”
“I won’t be so miserable when I get a better job.”
That kind of thinking is guaranteed misery that will never end.
What we really want is a feeling that the objects of our wants will bring.
A new house can give us a sense of comfort. A new car can heighten a feeling of importance. A passionate relationship can bring us love, connection, and ecstasy. Travel and toys keep off boredom. Landing the dream job can satisfy our need to achieve and be recognized.
The point here isn’t to say that we shouldn’t want the objects and symbols we think will make us happy. Want and desire are perfectly natural. When that turns to craving—where no matter how much you achieve or get you’re still not satisfied—then we have a deeper problem.
But it’s important for us to keep in mind that our happiness isn’t limited to the objects of our desires.
We don’t have to wait until we get want we want think we want in order to be happy.
Those feelings and experiences we’re really after are always available.
Donating some free time to a cause you really care about can provide feelings of security and connection among likeminded individuals, and recognition that makes you feel good about yourself for helping others; just as much as earning the income you want and getting all of those nice toys might bring a sense of satisfaction of achievement.
We can gain those same feelings we think our material desires will give us in other ways.
How do we go about this?
1. 10 Minutes of Gratitude.
Transformation of our thought patterns — hence, our feelings and actions — has to become a practice.
Spend 10 minutes a day — if you can, in the morning — meditating on any experiences in your life that you are grateful for, and why. Notice how that makes you feel, bless it, let that go, and move on to the next one.
This produces good feelings without necessarily becoming attached to them.
2. How Can I Help?
To reach financial freedom, you actually have to take the focus off of yourself and ask, “What need can I meet that serves other people in the way they need?”
How is it that you and you especially can meet that need in a way that makes them want to tell others about it?
This is how you become rich! The more we focus on the positive experiences we want out of life—feeling good and having positive effect on others—not only do we tend to produce those more frequently, but also the easier it is to produce the “things” we want.
Focusing on money may not make us any more secure or free, yet focusing on gratitude and positive impact—all the while being true to the best you— is the way of natural law. It makes it easier to create material success to go along with the inner qualities of fulfillment and integrity we want to feel.