Last week, I read about Jeff Bezos buying a three-floor penthouse apartment in Manhattan for eighty million dollars. And when I did, I felt something.
What was it?
Maybe you can relate?
But it wasn’t the apartment, for me, no.
What does one do with twelve bedrooms and seventeen thousand square feet? I haven’t a clue.
I wanted (and am still tempted to want is) his ability to buy something like that. I envied his wealth.
Because somewhere inside of me I think that that would make me happy. There’s a part of me that believes Jeff Bezos’s kind of money is the answer to all of my problems.
But there’s one slight issue.
It’s a lie.
I know money can’t make me or you or us happy. Do you know how I know?
Because every time I’ve ever added more to my little pile, I am happy for a moment; and then it transforms into wanting more, worry about getting more, feeling like I don’t have enough; and before I know it, I am wishing I had the money to afford an eighty million dollar apartment.
I’m not saying that having a lot of money, or even Jeff Bezos’s kind of money is bad. It’s not—at all.
Being the richest man in the world certainly has its benefits: crazy big luxurious apartments, private jets, money to buy whatever you want. Those are nice perks. Having money is better than having no money, that’s for sure true.
But believing you need that to be happy isn’t.
Just because you have an easier life doesn’t mean you have a happy one.
When I worked with millionaires and billionaires in private banking, every one of my clients had what would appear to many of us as incredible lives. They didn’t need to worry about money. Most of them had more than enough for several lifetimes. Some of them were pleasant and happy people, but others always seemed miserable. No matter what I did, how much they had in the bank, what good happened to them, they just couldn’t be happy. Some even stressed and worried about money.
I guess that they reacted that way because they had envy, too. Millionaires, even billionaires, can want what others have. They can want more.
Envy robs us, leaving us bankrupt. It makes the wealthy feel poor and the poor poorer. That’s what envy does. It blinds us to what we should be grateful for and focuses our attention on what so-and-so has, stealing our joy.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t work to make more money. We all need it. It’s good. The issue is wanting what others have and believing that it will make us happy.
Our unhappiness isn’t caused by what other people have or what we don’t have. It’s caused by us failing to see and appreciate what we already have. We don’t know how rich we already are.
We have our lives; we have potential; we have time; we have today; we have loved ones and those whom we love.
And I will enjoy all of the good things I have.
Shouldn’t we all. If you have your daily bread, a roof over your head, a person you can call a friend, aren’t we rich?
If we have enough money in the bank where we don’t need to worry about tomorrow, aren’t we wealthy?
We may want more, but we don’t need it to give us joy.
I hope Mr. Bezos enjoys his palatial home in the sky. I’m happy for him.
But I also hope we know that we don’t need to be him to be happy.
Being us is more than enough.