Ironically, people spend their whole lives trying to get rich overnight. From potions in medieval times to Bernie Madoff’s money schemes, people have never stopped looking for ways to get rich quickly. If you go to Forbes.com or Entrepreneur.com you will get many formulas to be successful and ways to become rich. I will put three words together that essentially mean the same thing to people – money, success, happiness. The problem is that people define the latter two by the amount of the former. If you want to become rich overnight in a monetary sense, I would typically tell you to move on to another article. However, this is exactly for you. If you can follow these 5 simple steps, not only will you be truly rich but you will find monetary success as well.
1. Appreciate your very existence.
If you filled a room with a thousand people and ask them how many of them consider themselves lucky, most likely, only a few would raise their hands. Maybe because they recently got a promotion, had a baby or maybe because they already have taken these steps. But for the most part, people don’t consider themselves lucky. Maybe your tire went flat today, maybe you got yelled at by your boss or maybe you’re just inexplicably miserable.
However, these same people hope to turn it around for themselves and to do it quickly without effort. How do we know this? Let’s take the most obvious example, the lottery. Being killed by a vending machine, struck by lightning, becoming the president of United States – what do these things have in common? The chances of having these things happen in your lifetime are extremely higher than those of winning a lottery. 1 in 259,000,000. Those were the odds of winning the second largest Mega Millions jackpot. It seems that many people will quickly give up the hope of becoming a president or even following their own passion, but they will gladly take these odds in becoming rich overnight. As a matter of fact, those earning less than $13,000 per year spend 9% of their income on lottery tickets.
My point being, if you win the lottery, and you were in the same room when the question was asked, now you would raise your hand, right? What if I told you, you already hit the lottery? Again, again, again and again… The fact that you are here reading this very post and breathing means you are already a product of trillions of “coincidences” that combined at the exact right time and produced you. The odds that your parents met, found each other attractive, continued to stay together, decided to have you is 1 in 2,000. Not too bad. Now, the odds of being exactly who you are (one particular egg, meeting the particular sperm) is 1 in 4 quadrillion. Try typing that number out. This also means that every single one of your ancestors had also had to have similar odds, making your odds of existence even worse. So taking all these factors into consideration, take a guess what your chances are of just existing. Zero. Or as close to zero as it’s possible to get. These mathematical odds tell us that you should not exist in this little universe of ours, yet there you are, sitting and breathing. You’ve hit the lottery. You’ve hit it many times.
2. Change your perspective.
But I don’t feel lucky. I don’t have possessions that many other people have. If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep you have more than 75% of the world. We mentioned people who earn $13,000, most people in the US would consider that poor. However, according to Global Rich List someone earning this income is among the 11% of the richest people in the world by income. It would take an average of 81 years for a laborer in Ghana to earn what you earn in one year. In Azerbaijan, your monthly income could pay the salaries of 56 doctors. It’s all about perspective.
If you are hungry, and you find yourself with a plate of food, you are happy. Until you see someone with two. Meanwhile, maybe you even have enough to feed two people. But you will become so preoccupied with the fact that someone else has more on their plate that you will forget to enjoy your own meal, and you certainly won’t help someone else to not feel hungry. Instead of the joy that you initially felt, you feel greed, anger and maybe even disappointment in yourself. It’s a simple example but that is how our world turns.
A lot of parents spend their entire lives working hard so maybe one day their kids wouldn’t have to. Three jobs, maybe a babysitter at home, high stress but it’s all worth it. Or is it? What is the most important thing to a kid? Their parents. Anything missing in the first scenario? You. You are working hard to get a better job, so you can pay for a better car or a better home, but it will never be enough. Meanwhile, the child is growing up without the love, support, and attention that they need. Suddenly, a new perspective comes in. Your most precious commodity in the world, your time, is being spent on things that don’t even matter. Yes, we need basic things like food, a safe home and we need to work to get them. However, success is not what media defines it to be.
3. Define what being rich is.
To become rich, whether you have millions in your name or nothing, you need to define what success is to you. Media portrays success as living in a huge house, throwing extravagant parties, driving a million dollar car, or being in the spotlight. To me, all those things are just compensation for NOT being happy. They invested their most precious and finite commodity into collecting an enormous amount of… paper. To get to this point, many had to give up their childhoods, step over their friends and co-workers. Instead of growing as human beings, becoming more compassionate they developed a sense of self-importance, greed and developed an indifference to the rest of the world. They may know how to work hard, but their efforts are not spent into making the world a better place.
I believe success is a lot simpler. It’s about being happy and making others happy. That’s it. I don’t think any single person needs a yacht or a $2000 purse to be happy. The whole “I’d rather sleep in a Ferrari, than on the street” is nonsense. Yes, no one wants to live on the street. But no one would have to if we placed our needs on the same level as everyone else’s. What if you gave that portion of your plate that we talked about and fed another, instead of looking at someone else’s plate? What if we defined success by being happy and making others happy? If you base your whole life trying to achieve someone else’s definition of success, you will never achieve your own.
So what is rich? Rich is being in the moment. Rich is knowing you are making the world a better place. Rich is being healthy. Rich is knowing you spent your days doing things that matter. Rich is knowing if you fall, someone will pick you up. Rich is picking up someone else who is down. Rich is taking one but giving two. But being rich is not a number. If this is how Forbes defined rich, how many of the same people would actually be on the world’s richest list? Could you suddenly be a candidate?
But I don’t have enough myself, how can I give? It’s often those who have least, that give the most. If you thought you could become rich by just taking, you were wrong. If a tree falls and no one is around to hear it, will it make a sound? It seems that most people don’t think so. Our solution to world’s big problems is to either ignore it until it goes away or goes to war. Take prisons, for example, if a person does something against the law, we punish them by locking them away somewhere. Give it 10 years; they will be as good as new. It would be the same as taking a rotting fruit, putting it in a box for 10 days and then throwing it with the rest of the fruit, hoping that now it is fresh. However, we are not addressing the underlying issue or even fixing the current problem. What about the environment that those people grow up in? What about working with their current issues and trying to address them and rehabilitate them? By using our “ignore until it goes away” theory, are we not making it worse?
This is why we need to give. 99% of giving doesn’t have to involve money. Haven’t we heard stories where a simple smile in school at someone stopped them from committing suicide? How a pair of shoes kept someone from getting frost bite in the winter? How a compliment made someone’s day? If you help or be nice to someone, chances are they will do the same to others. There were many times where someone paid for a toll or a meal for the person behind them, and instead of just taking this nice gesture, the receiver did the same for the person behind. And even if they didn’t, they were happier at that point than they were minutes before. So you made a difference. Now take the opposite, if you don’t give or you add something negative, will it not spread like a disease?
To be rich, give. Does the world seem like a mean place? Add some love, chances are, you will get the same back. Whether it is a smile, a laugh or a hug. It doesn’t cost a thing but it makes a big difference. Without other’s happiness, you will not have your own.
5. Surround yourself with the best.
Now, this point has been made over and over again. You’ve probably heard this so many times, but you still have not done it. Surround yourself with good people. Whether you want to launch an idea or simply be happier, there’s no bigger obstacle than your environment. That includes your “friends”. We defined what it is to be rich, so surround yourself with “rich” people. It’s up to you to reach your goals, but sometimes you need a boost. But friends are not just there for when you need them, friends are there to laugh together, learn, and make each other grow as human beings. If someone is bringing out the worst qualities out of you, they are not a friend.
Surround yourself with kindness, even if you are not kind. It’s contagious.