One of the first that I remember was concocted after I found a rusty old file while playing out in my Grandpa’s shed. Years later, I found the hand painted sign for “Andrew’s Sharpening Service…5 cents.” On the back, I had some math, figuring out how many blades I’d have to sharpen at 5 cents each to be able to buy a bench grinder and a sharpening stone so I could sharpen more quickly to make money faster.
When I was old enough to get a job I’d work as many hours as I could to make as much money as possible. I knew that if I worked more, I made more. I’d even try to find ways to make the places I worked more profitable in hopes of earning a raise.
Finally, in my sophomore year of college, I discovered commission sales, working for a Chevy dealership. Finally, I thought, I could make a higher income based on my own efforts, not just by working more hours.
This mindset, making the highest income possible, led me through dozens of jobs in just a decade and a half, until I landed in my current profession. This step moved me beyond the pay for commission setup to a passive income setup, where I could now earn an income forever based on a one time effort.
But, once I got into my current career, I realized something. I had spent more than half of my life thinking that the next money making idea was going to get me to happy, and it still hadn’t happened. Even though I had achieved what I thought I wanted many times now, I still wasn’t happy.
I always thought that the “money can’t buy you happiness” phrase was bullshit. If I had enough money, I could go to Fiji, sleep in until noon, and have a arsenal of the world’s nicest guitars. Life would be a party if I had enough money. That MUST make a person happy.
As a concept that might work, but it hinges on one key word. Enough. It was never enough.
Luckily, the place where my career had landed taught me something. Helping people get through the worst moments in their life feels really, really good. That’s a kind of happy that no amount of money can buy.
As an insurance agent, I get to see someone almost every day who has had a major catastrophe with something extremely important to them. A nasty car crash. A fire in their home. Theft of valuable or sentimental items. And guess what? Every one of them comes out of it okay. This taught me that life isn’t about stuff.
Sure, I could have made millions of dollars sharpening lawnmower blades with a rusty file and a bench grinder, or in one of my other pursuits, but that would have never made me happy. I would have kept buying more grinders, sharpening stones, hiring people, buying warehouses in an attempt to sharpen more and more and more blades. I might have had plenty of money to do things that would make me happy, but would I have slowed down long enough to do them?
These days, I count myself among those who call themselves “purpose driven.” When I discovered my purpose and started living it, focusing on others’ needs instead of my own, I realized two more important lessons. That you can be totally happy and fulfilled regardless of money, and that when you live on purpose (and with the right attitude), money comes even more easily.
You might be thinking that it’s awfully easy to realize that you don’t need money once you already make a good living, and I wouldn’t disagree with you. But I can also say very confidently that if I had started writing, speaking, and focusing on using my talents to improve the lives of others earlier on in life, I’d already be a very wealthy man, both spiritually and financially. Much more so than I am now.
Instead, I spent years chasing a slightly larger paycheck.
So, can money buy you happiness? Not a chance, because you get too focused on the money that way. However, if you stay focused on the happiness, the money usually takes care of itself. And that, my friends, is a beautifully fulfilling way to live. Will you join me?
Have a joyful day!
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