Remember one thing. The aim in life is to be happy. Money is one way (yes, a big way) in which you can achieve happiness, but don’t lose sight of the fact that it is happiness you are after as a final goal, not money.
If you ever make any real money you will be so caught up in your astonishing success that you will find it very hard to quit. You will be tempted to work harder and faster to get more while the going is good. Then, if you hit a lean time, you will work harder and faster to try and get back what you have lost. In short, you will always be working harder and faster. Knowing when enough is enough is the most difficult challenge you will ever face.
Most people do not face this challenge because they rarely make enough to live on and almost never create a surplus. However, it is useful to ask yourself the question at any stage of your life, even if you’re ‘flat broke’ as I hope to prove.
This is one of life’s big questions, and I believe it would help you to try and answer it right now. In this single question I believe is embodied the spirit of the next thousand years – no small claim!
What is the question?
“Do You Have Enough?”
Strange question! Perhaps you’re thinking “enough of what?” Or even, “what is he talking about?”
I have deliberately phrased the question in this simple form. You know what I’m talking about. You know what the question means. So I would like you to close your eyes for a moment, and let the question work its magic, before I elaborate and spoil its simple power.
Now I will answer your question, “enough of what?” I mean enough money, enough material possessions, enough ‘things.’ Let me tell you some interesting facts about your current level of wealth. (I have accounted for inflation in these statistics.)
You are approximately one thousand times richer than the average ancient Egyptian, ignoring Pharaohs – you are only a mere fifty times richer than a Pharaoh. Of course you don’t have the piles of gold they had, but that’s not the point. The point is what they could and did buy with that gold, which was mainly slave-power. It has been estimated that modern inventions such as the motor car, washing machines, dishwashers, etc. are the equivalent of owning one thousand slaves, making you wealthier now (whatever your level of poverty) than the kings of the ancient world.
But…are you fifty times happier than a Pharaoh? Are you one thousand times happier than the average ancient Egyptian?
Are you even as happy as they were?
You are about three hundred times richer than the average ancient Briton living at the start of the first millennium; i.e. the year AD 1. You are an estimated thirty times richer than the wealthiest king or lord of that era. By richer, I mean your access to clean wholesome food, potable drinking water, transport, power, medicine, shelter, clothing and labour-saving devices, to mention only a few things. Stagnant piles of loot stacked up in a warehouse are not riches, any more than ten million in a Swiss bank account which is never touched is ‘money.’ Wealth is only meaningful if it is used.
You are an estimated one hundred times richer than the average Briton living at about the time of the Battle of Hastings, i.e. at around the start of the second millennium, the year AD 1066. You are ten times wealthier than the richest man on the planet one thousand years ago.
I am not including land ownership in these statistics. The mere ownership of land is not wealth: riches are measured in what the land produces. To prove this point, let me hereby grant you 100% ownership, absolute, of the planet Pluto – all ten trillion acres. You own the entire planet. Congratulations! Has it improved your level of wealth by even 1%? No, because it produces nothing.
Are you one hundred times happier than someone from 1066? Are you even as happy?
You are fifty times more wealthy than the average peasant living in the year 1500. Life was hard back then, but are you fifty times happier than they were? I doubt this very much. Are you even as happy? I wonder…
You are twenty times more wealthy than the average Victorian. Looked at another way, you have the equivalent today of twenty Victorian servants working for you. A Victorian household with twenty staff would most definitely have been owned only by the superrich.
On average you are likely to be five times richer than your granddad. Are you five times happier than he was?
On average, you are likely to be twice as wealthy as your own parents, although this depends on your age. If you are 18, it will not apply. If you are 50, it almost certainly will. For example, think back to the thirties, forties, fifties, or sixties, whichever decade is closest to when you were growing up. Did each family have two cars? Mobile telephones? Dishwashers? Microwaves? Did your mom and dad take expensive foreign vacations, sometimes even more than one in a year? Did they wear expensive designer clothes? You get the idea. In the 1930s, which surely is only ‘yesterday,’ over 25 million Americans had no income whatsoever; only 1% of homes had a telephone; only 50% had electricity and nutrition was so poor that six out of ten men who applied for the army failed their basic “if you can stagger, you’re in” medical test and could not join up.
You are already in the very top 1% of the world in terms of wealth. Most people on the planet still live on subsistence farms, carrying water from long distances, without sanitation or electricity. Are you happier than they are, on average?
“Do you have enough?”
Think about it. You are already one thousand times wealthier than an ancient Egyptian, three hundred times richer than someone living in AD1; twenty times wealthier than the average Victorian; five times wealthier than your grandfather and in the top 1% of wealthy people on the planet.
Do you have enough?
This is not a one-shot question, it is a question for life. You need to continuously ask yourself this from now until you die. If the answer is still “no,” then I want to ask you a supplementary question which you need to answer, right now: “When do you think you will have enough?” I am not asking these questions for amusement only. I believe the answers hold one of the keys to your happiness for the rest of your life.