For the subsequent three and a half years, I, the founder of BoM, has been living in one of the most affluent areas in the ENTIRE world with more millionaires living in the vicinity than anywhere else. Having graduated with high hopes of maybe making it as a successful architect myself until the economic recession of 2008 had other ideas.
Living in this location may well have rubbed salt into the wound for many in my particular circumstance, having less than the majority of the people I now lived close to in order to earn a living but something occurred to me that may be something many people don’t realise… we don’t really need material objects to feel valuable or have high self-worth.
Living so close to affluent people has made me realise my main goal of valuing myself and my perceived success and worth through money, materialism, possessions and my working position may be an inadvertent false sense of wealth and instead there is something I (and others) can choose to weigh success by and it is much more difficult to achieve a high level of it than traditional economic and material success.
Read on if you want to know what it is and if you want to, how you can also start practising this new measure of human ‘success’.
Desire for ‘things’ to make life valued starts young from advertising
It is a scary thought to suggest but as youngsters we are conditioned into thinking that material things will make us happy. Our festivities such as Christmas that rather than being about the birth of Christ now have a tendency to focus on materialism, toys and movies. Due to this, many people now celebrate Christmas who are not even Christian, many people celebrate it for the idea of sharing gifts with loved ones.
Father Christmas a man who used to give gifts to orphans, now has been ‘rebranded’ as the symbol of Christmas in the aim of corporations making as much cash from us that they can. You may not realise but he used to wear a green suit until Coca-Cola ‘rebranded’ him to wear the same colour red as the coca-cola brand.
It seems that we have started to step away from our true nature of what matters most in our human nature such as helping others, being spiritual, forgiving others and offering kindness to being much more about ‘what we own’ and ‘what gift we get from the man in the big red suit, we have lost our way in the pursuit of material wealth and financial power.
Focus on money and materialism can be the root cause of unhappiness
With a heading such as this it may sound new age but by valuing ourselves through money and materialism can lead us to ‘unhappiness’ rather than contentment.
For many, having untold riches and wealth is difficult to attain, even with a good education, unless you are from a family background that already has money or live in a location that offers the opportunity to amass wealth. Achieving that level of comfort is much more difficult to realise but is still possible with a great idea, hard work and determination. Saying this, I have found it to be incredibly important to first value what you can do to help or improve the lives of others that you come into contact with.
As this goal of money and ‘things’ is difficult to achieve from a lower to middle-class background having it as the most important life goal, or one of the top ones, is likely to bring a sense of being unfilled and failure.
Money, and the opportunity to possess it, is one reason I had a breakdown myself as the ability to achieve the wealth was more difficult in my hometown than others due to less jobs and less wealth creation than in the likes of London and also the economic recesson of 2008 which co-incided with my graudation.
Living in the richest part of the world can make money as the ultimate life goal can make that target feel shallow
Having lived in the south of England now for four years I have met people who have lots of wealth, over a million in money and assets but it is STILL not enough for them…they desire even MORE wealth and MORE possessions I can’t help but feel this is the only way they can feel they have value and rate themselves as ‘successful’ people.
I often think back to my recent trip to the Valley of the Kings and the Temple of Hatshepsut in Luxor, Egypt, the ancient capital of the first civilization of the world when the well off start talking about how much they haven’t got or still need.
Heartfelt gratitude from North African locals
I may have told this story before but it is one of the things that redeveloped my view on ‘the worth of money’ in my life.
It was a dream of mine to always visit Egypt since I was very young and to see the final ancient wonders of the world and I was extremely fortunate enough to visit Luxor when there wasn’t another traveller in the entire valley of the kings.
It was an incredible experience and made the visit incredibly special as I began my descent into Ramises III tomb.
As I walked down into the darkness of the crypt I was accompanied by a local Egyptian man, green traditional clothing, white beard, dark wrinkled skin due to the hot weather of the country and also turban included. He was very smiley and pointing out pictures on the wall with great enthusiasm and an obvious lack of ability to speak English fluently.
It was amazing to think I was walking in the footsteps of ancient Egyptians that would have walked the same path thousands of years earlier and the stories that were behind these pictures that led to the afterlife.
On arrival at the base of the tomb, it was just me, my wife and the local standing a the foot of a barrier. He asked me, would I like to stand where the Pharaoh would have had his corpse laid to rest to begin his journey into their perceived heaven and so, I crossed the barrier to stand in the place few are ever allowed to. Simply incredible as I looked at the ceiling and saw many stars painted on the ceiling of the carved out mountain!
On return to the correct side of the barrier I offered the man a small tip of 20 Egyptian Pounds ($2) for thanks in showing me the wonders and in return I received a ‘genuine’ gratitude for this small amount of money with the largest smile, warm kind eyes, a strong embrace and a kiss on the arm and a shake of my hand.
I of course, was taken aback by the forwardness but his act showed me the power and purpose of money in the right hands and how the feeling of giving it to those who truly need it gives more reward than aiming to possess lots of it and if I am very fortunate enough to become successful you can hold me to my word that the majority of my wealth will be in trying to help others. I have never felt huge satisfaction from owning something in comparison to seeing when I really helped someone feel happiness, the value cannot compare.
The real value of money is not to make ourselves feel powerful and comfortable in our own lives, although a nice extra if possible, money, when shared and put into the right areas and with the right people, can really make the world a better and happier place for so many.
Don’t value how much money you have, value how many people’s lives you can make better.
Even if we have no money we can still help others
Rather than valuing life by how much one can own, which I thought about when I chose to train as an architect, how I now value my worth is by how kind I can be and trying to focus on it and hopefully make a positive contribution to other people’s lives and whoever I meet be genuinely kind, tolerant and understanding.
I am quite convinced if any of us spent the amount of time and determination needed to work on a business idea I am sure we could all achieve great material wealth but how much time is needed to create that wealth?
Before Egypt, I also visited the Sistine Chapel a year earlier in Rome and stood gazing up at the painting by Michelangelo only to hear that upon his death he has the equivalent in todays money of £45 million if not more in his bank.
What was the use of this money to him once he was dead? It became valueless. He had no children, he had now wife but yet he was wealthy beyond most people’s imagination.
What’s the point in that?!?
The three true values of wealth
The following three aspects are what we should be valuing how wealthy a person is as not everyone can possess these things.
If we just work, work, work and work and maybe watch some television and then grow old and die what was the point in that? Seeeeeeeeriously!!! Get out! See the world! Travel! Life is to be lived not just exist :).
People that just work so hard, amass lots of money but forget to live, it is something I don’t understand.
My wife once worked for an Indian businessman who never gave a single weekend off ALL month for 9 months.
I never saw her and we never did anything together for that period other than a 2 week holiday.
Fortunately, she has left now but this is what I mean, if we constantly work and forget to enjoy ourselves in between, before we know it, our bodies will age and we will be pensioners and not experienced anything in between (by the way if you are a pensioner, it is never too late to start NOW!).
So I guess the message is rather than just value how much we earn or possess I believe we should value how much time we are able to spend doing the things we love to do as that is where real wealth is found, enjoying life. When you look back at life at the age of 70+ do you want lots of photo albums or a lot of things and numbers on your bank account ? I am not saying you can’t have both but we should always first enjoy life before the money arrives.
Kindness and compassion
Not everyone has the ability to put themselves in the shoes of others. It is great when you see something on the news and can acknowledge what a terrible thing happened but remain tolerant and understanding of people of that society you come into contact.
What about the people suffering in poverty in Africa or the thousands upon thousands of people dying in the middle east or even that arrogant boss that really you’d like to put them straight but you instead try to see the other person’s point of view and try to understand why they are acting in the way they do? If you can do this and offer kindness to everyone you meet and want the best for ALL people then you are reaching an incredible level of human integrity and a wealth that cannot be measured.
You can’t buy love. Consider the story about the genie in the bottle, he CAN grant you untold riches but he CANNOT grant you the ability to force anyone to fall in love with you. Finding true love or someone to share life with is priceless. It may not be a partner it may be a few good friends , love comes in many forms.
Some may think that there is no one out there for them, no one who understands them, share the same interests as them or has the same way of thinking. It is true, to find the person who is exactly you in the opposite sex is damn hard but I think we are missing the point if we look for our perfect person who is just like us as I believe the key to a happy relationship is not in just our similarities or what we think we want our partner to look like but in our differences and discovering, learning and appreciating those things, even the things that might annoy us can also be loved.
I know I have been lucky to find my Tibetan wife when I had to move away from all I knew for work and although we have some different interests and also different cultures, we are bonded by something more than just similar interests but by a will and genuine care for each other, I can honestly say I am a very happy person in this area right now and you can be too. Get on match.com or another dating website and start meeting people for coffee and a chat, someone to share lif with is waiting out there for you, I can guarantee!! If you don’t want a partner then find a website to make some friends instead.
Money has limited worth
So I guess to conclude, having untold riches may make us feel powerful, bring some sense of comfort knowing you have nice things and don’t have to worry about making ends meet, in fact, I am certain for a short while being rich can feel good but likewise, I am also aware being rich must also have its own stresses and strains as being poor does.
‘Keeping up’ with those living across the street from you. The more money you get, the more careful you need to be when you choose friends, a partner and I am not sure how much you could trust others. How can you honestly know for sure people are respecting you and enjoying being with you just because they like you and don’t particularly benefit from knowing you? They may only love you for your money and position rather than the person you are and that must be a stress too.
I have also noticed a lot of affluent places such as the one I live in generally tend to have less compassion and empathy for people that struggle.
I don’t know why this is the case, maybe they have never struggled in life in an economic sense that they are unable to emphasis and have no need to care for other human beings because ‘they are ok’. To me, there seems to be an essence that wealth can make us colder towards the pain of another or maybe possessing it you truly see the nature of a person.
As already mentioned, having almost lost everything and now living amongst the very wealthy, viewing those that are very financially comfortable makes me realise that I have something priceless in that I don’t need to own a lot to feel I am of worth and that having little I can still be rich, rich in heart.
Money makes the world go round…or does it?
Finally, ask yourself these questions next time you are thinking if you had money your life would be better and understand having money is fine but we shouldn’t make it our main life goal…
Once you have lots of money and material objects will you have enough time to enjoy it?
When you come to the day you are about to die what use is money then?
Do you want to look back towards your life and say you created a vast amount of wealth and purchased many objects or do you want to say you experienced many wonders and tried to leave the world a better place for others?
What do you want to with your life if you could do anything? Would you want to paint more? Would you want to create a photography exhibition? Would you want to skydive? Whatever it is, make it a goal and set out a way of making it happen, it will bring your more contentment than money is likely to and lastly…remember the three real values of how to measure your worth.
How we really value a successful human is not from the pocket but from the wealth someone has in their heart.