I’m often intrigued by what human beings think they need in order to be content. This is always a subject of interest to me, and has a large role in my role as a therapist. It does seem that a lot of people, in the Western world at least, believe being a millionaire or having a perceived millionaire’s lifestyle is the key to contentment.
“If only I could spend my life travelling the globe”, “What have a I got?”, “everyone else seems to have it better than me”. Now these themes tie into other themes I’ve covered before too, such as the ills of social media (personal marketing) and to an extent the mid/early life crisis. I turn 40 this year, and to me, it really is just a number marking my chronological age on this planet. However I have friends who are genuinely trouble be turning 40. It seems a time for reflection, but perhaps reflection on what is perceived as “missing” rather than what we have, often in abundance around us.
The idea of lack typifying this worry about missing out is found in Tim Ferris’s book, The 4 hour work week. To be fair to Ferris, there are nuggets of good stuff in the book, the last chapter seemed perhaps the best in the whole book. However he is entirely selling the idea that you need to be jetting around the world and living the “Millionaire lifestyle” to be content. If you’re not doing this he seems to suggest your not making the most of your time on Earth. A large part of his book is trying to assist you in starting your own successful business so that you too can live well with minimal input. Which is a great idea in principal/theory, but of course much harder to put into practice.
The premise that struck me the most as a little over simplified was that you can only be content feeling wealthy. In my personal, professional and academic experience, this just isn’t the case. There are plenty of people in all corners of the globe that enjoy their lives whilst living off minimal money. I suspect you too might not relish the prospect of managing your own business to enable you to constantly be on the move, trying to find more “excitement”. Excitement is Ferris’s key to contentment, he believes that all humans are seeking this, and when you have it, then you’ll be content/happy. This is of course a rather one dimensional view, that what makes Ferris happy will work for you too.
The reason in my therapy practice that I don’t tell my clients what to do, is that how can I know what will make them feel good? That’s totally subjective and a personal thing. My role is to help someone explore what they think might feel good and to encourage them to experiment with trying these things. If they feel good, great, carry on. If not, no problem, try something else until you find a range of things that work for you. It’s really that simple. If you do want to explore the world, then find ways to do that. But of course you need to be aware of the choices you make. It’s hard to have a stable home life and relationships if you’re not there to build or maintain them.
The key here is to find what works for you, not what you’re told to do. Do you need a Rolex to feel good about yourself? No. Although, if you want to work to have a Rolex because you’ve always wanted one and every time you look at it you feel proud of your achievement, then fine. Just think about why you want the things you currently do. If it’s for your enjoyment then carry on. If you feel it’s about showing others what you’re worth, then maybe reconsider what’s important to you.
With the money for the Rolex could you take your family, friends or partner away and have a memorable time or two (three or four)? That might actually feel better than the watch. I will strongly suggest that good relationships with those around you are priceless. You can have all the things in the world, but if you feel lonely you’re very unlikely to feel content. If you’re looking around you, and wonder what you have, then don’t under-estimate the “mundane”. If you have a nice place to live, good people in your life, love, affection, a comfortable life without struggle, then you’re doing pretty well. I suspect the things or experiences your think you’re missing can be added into your existing life, as it’ll be a case of making time to do things and finding the money needed to fund them. When you realise these things are just additions to the good life you already have, it’ll make your present feel a lot better.
Of course, if you realise lots of your “mundane” parts of your life aren’t where you want them, then you need to see what can be done to change and alter them. Don’t like where you live, look to move. Your friends, family & partner don’t make you feel good and you don’t enjoy their company. Then see if you can later those relationships, if that doesn’t work, then find new people to resonate with. Just realise what you really crave is unlikely to be more things, but how your everyday experienced life feels. If the things you do everyday feel good, then life will feel good and you won’t feel the need to chase the perceived “Millionaires Lifestyle”. Trust me, I’ve worked with a range of unhappy Millionaires, money doesn’t mean happiness…