How Wealthy Are You…?(Part III)

…Continued from Part IITo become wealthy requires one to effectively invest their time and money into the most fulfilling experiences possible. Eventually all money is spent on some form of experience. The important question is, if our money buys experience, then which experiences have the highest return on investment in terms of life, happiness and fulfillment? Obviously, this is a really subjective question as everyone has different passions, needs and interests. If you have lost your hair and it makes you feel bad, spending thousands on a hair transplant may be the best investment of the year for you; but not for those who are comfortable with their baldness or have a full head of hair.

First of all our fundamental needs take precedence: health, food, shelter. If these three needs are not met, then nothing else is going to make you happy and not having them is going to make you miserable. But assuming you have those needs met, then research indicates that the experiences which create the most happiness are:New and unique activities.Shared experiences with others and building relationships.Passion activities.When we spend money on experiences for others, it makes us happier. This is regardless of who it is, whether we know them or not, what the reason is, or even how much we spend.When I began my teaching career I was very young. I started with nothing, not even a relevant, educational degree. I stayed with a friend for some time, struggled to find a job and was broke for years. All of my money went into my fundamental needs. As hard as that time was, it was good for me and I remember it with great fondness. I lived with little to no possessions. I had no recreation other than spending time with my friends. It forced me to disconnect from owning stuff and instead find enrichment and value in experiences.Yes, I was alone then and did not have a lot of responsibilities in terms of a family etc, so it was easier, I guess. Now that I earn more and I have a family, my priority is to meet their basic needs but after that I prefer to invest my money in experiences along with my family.

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I have a job that gives me the time I need to make that happen. I left medical school after two years to become a teacher. I have teacher friends who spend the whole day after work giving private tuitions, returning home at 9 pm, exhausted, irritable and ready to drop. Yes, all of them have property, houses, land plots and fat bank accounts. All geared to make their future secure but their present boring, dull and tedious. Reminds one of the Leo Tolstoy story, doesn’t it. Why make Rs 150,000 a month and hate your job if you could make Rs 75,000 a month and love your job?

In my opinion most people invest all of their time and energy to make as much money as possible first, without paying attention to what they spend it on. And they earn it holding jobs they hate. They spend their lives living for the elusive time when they will get to enjoy it. Ironically the time seldom comes. Makes me think of the John Lennon line; ‘Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans!’

 We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we’re frustrated that the kids aren’t old enough and we’ll be more content when they are. After that, we’re frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We’ll certainly be happy when they’re out of that stage.We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice vacation, when we retire. The truth is, there’s no better time to be happy than right now. If not now, when? Your life will always be filled with challenges. It’s best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway.

There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So, treasure every moment that you have and treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time with… and remember that time waits for no one.This brings us to the importance of living in the present…‘The power of now!’Happiness is found by living in the now, according to a major study into mental well being. But the study also found that people spend nearly half their time (46.7%) thinking about something other than what they are actually doing. The benefits of living in the moment are extolled by many philosophical and religious traditions, but until now there has been scant scientific evidence to support the advice. Psychologists at Harvard University collected information on the daily activities, thoughts and feelings of 2,250 volunteers to find out how often they were focused on what they were doing, and what made them most happy.

They found that people were happiest when having sex, exercising or in conversation, and least happy when working, resting or using a home computer. And although subjects’ minds were wandering nearly half of the time, this consistently made them less happy. The team concludes that reminiscing, thinking ahead or daydreaming tends to make people more miserable, even when they are thinking about something pleasant.”Human beings have this unique ability to focus on things that aren’t happening right now. That allows them to reflect on the past and learn from it; it allows them to anticipate and plan for the future; and it allows them to imagine things that might never occur,” said Matthew Killingsworth, a doctoral student in psychology and lead author of the study. “At the same time, it seems that human beings often use this ability in ways that are not productive and furthermore can be destructive to our happiness,” he added.Dale Carnegie says: ‘One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living.  We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon – instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.Eckhart Tolle, is known worldwide for his teachings on spiritual enlightenment through the power of the present moment. His first book, The Power of Now, is an international bestseller, and has been translated into 17 languages. In answer to a question on how to maintain awareness of the present moment says: ‘Although the old consciousness or rather unconsciousness still has considerable momentum and to a large extent still runs this world, the newly awakened consciousness – presence – has already begun to emerge in many human beings. The main thing is to allow this new state of consciousness to emerge rather than believe that you have to try hard to make it happen. How do you allow it to emerge? Simply by allowing this moment to be as it is. This means to relinquish inner resistance to what is – the suchness of now. This allows life to unfold beautifully. There is no greater spiritual practice than this.’Then there is the story of a man who, fleeing from a tiger, jumped over a cliff to save his life. While falling into the abyss below he managed to grab a vine growing out of the cliff face. As he hung suspended, he saw another tiger eying him hungrily from below.In a moment of surrender, the man noticed a solitary flower growing near him. ‘Splendid!’ He exclaimed!So, ‘Be here now!’

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