Recently I’ve been asking other business owners and friends a very specific question. The question is:
Can money buy happiness?
Every person over 30 years old has realized money doesn’t buy happiness. When they started their businesses, they had dreamt of massive wealth, beautiful homes, high-end cars and lots of toys. As they grew older, they began to realize that money what wasn’t what it was all cracked up to be.
Two years ago, I read a book titled “How to Get Rich” by Felix Dennis. Felix Dennis is a multi-millionaire and shares his journey to wealth throughout his book. It’s a fantastic book. In one of the final chapters, he wrote the following:
“Ask me what I will give you if you could wave a magic wand and give me my youth back. The answer would be everything I own and everything I will ever own.”
Here’s a man who dedicated most of his life to building wealth who is willing to trade it all to be young again. This is very powerful and has had a big impact on me over the last year or so. In real estate, we tend to work 7 days a week, week-after-week.
“Seeking substantial wealth is almost always a fool’s game. The statistics show that very few people ever succeed. Most of them should never have made the attempt in the first place….the search will take up a great deal of your waking life for many, many years….Time is finite. Which is a fancy way of saying that you only have so much of it – then it will run out.”
Felix is saying that the price he paid with his time to accumulate wealth was too high. In other words, he overpaid and is suggesting that we be careful of overpaying, too. Felix has realized that TIME IS MORE VALUABLE THAN MONEY. I’ve been fond of saying “Time is Money.” This is actually incorrect.
Back to Felix…
“If you are young and reading this, then I ask you to remember just this: you are richer than anyone older than you, and far richer than those who are much older. What you choose to do with the time that stretches out before you is entirely a matter for you. But do not say you started the journey poor. If you are young, you are infinitely richer than I can ever be again.
Money is never owned. It is only in your custody for a while. Time is always running on, and the young have more of it in their pocket than the richest man or woman alive…And yet you wish to waste your youth in the getting of money? Really? Think hard, my young cub, think hard and think long before you embark on such a quest. The time spent attempting to acquire wealth will mount up and cannot be reclaimed, whether you succeed or whether you fail.”
Here’s another great quote from Douglas Adams:
“Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.”
An incredibly wealth man has said that he would trade every dollar he owned to get his time back. Will we learn from his experiences?
I think the recession and market crash has given us the opportunity to re-evaluate what’s important in our lives. Many of us now realize that our health, friends and family are the most important of all. My concern as the economy turns around is that we will fall back into the trap of focusing entirely on selling more homes and making more money. Will these lessons we’ve learned stay with us going forward?
Consider a little more from wealthy Felix…
“Am I happy? No. Or, at least, only occasionally, when I am walking in the woods alone, or deeply ensconced in composing a difficult piece of verse, or sitting quietly with old friends over a bottle of wine. Or feeding my stray cat. I could do all of those things without wealth….”
Felix’s book, “How to Get Rich,” is 300 pages long. This little section about the price of wealth I’ve been referring to is only five pages long. I didn’t expect to find these thoughts in a book titled “How to Get Rich.” When Felix concluded these five little pages, he wrote:
“I suspect it will have little effect on you, though…. the last one thousand five hundred words was an “important bit.” In my heart of hearts, I know it was the most important bit you will read in this book.”
Felix has indicated that the most important thing he wrote in his 300-page “How to Get Rich” book is NOT to get rich. The price you must pay with your time isn’t worth it.