Years ago, I was fortunate to have a very wise mentor in my life. Among the many things he taught me was how to be a rich man and as you can imagine I was very interested in learning that. I remember sitting on the deck in back of his house listening as he lectured. “I’m the richest man I know,” he said, as he pointed around his yard. He told me that he built the old swing set and sand box in the far corner of the yard for his kids 30 years ago and that now his grandkids play on them. He had me listen to the sounds of Wheeling Creek running over the rocks just beyond his privacy fence out back. He showed me where one of his dogs used to dig under the fence to go to the creek to chase ducks. All these memories he pointed out, and then told me that none of these had anything to do with money. They were about building personal capitol, buying stock in family, friends and life. “I am rich beyond measure,” he said. “Because I am a happy man. I have all that I want and money can’t buy any of it.” Of course this guy was very well off financially, too, but I got his point.
It didn’t take me long to put this wisdom to practice in my daily life. I had recently made the decision to quit my job and go into business full-time for myself. The work was hard, but early on there wasn’t a whole lot of it. I used to go days and sometimes weeks without any paying jobs. I fretted about this constantly and whined about it to my wife when things were slow. Then the phone would ring and I’d be busy again for a couple of weeks. Finally, one day, my wife told me that it didn’t matter that sometimes I was busy and other times things were slow. The bills were still all getting paid. The only bad or scary thing was the way I got depressed when I didn’t have business. She suggested that I do the things that I always wanted to do, but didn’t have time for. Things like going to the movies in the middle of the week, going fishing, fixing things around the house and taking day trips with my bride to places we’d like to see. After only a few weeks of taking her advice, I realized that I felt better, I was happier and yes, I started to understand what my mentor meant when he said he was rich.
Now here’s the funny part about allowing yourself to be rich, not rich in money, but rich in experiences, rich in life. This type of wealth, this kind of richness actually attracts financial wealth, too. I’m not 100 percent sure how this works, but I think it has a lot to do with being happy. When you’re happy you are willing to do things that you normally wouldn’t do. When you are happy you don’t mind driving around in a 10-year-old truck or wearing the same jacket for several years. You realize that you don’t have to go shopping for new stuff every payday just to make yourself feel good. You already feel good. You stop trying to keep up with the Joneses because you realize that they don’t have what you want, you do. You have happiness and that is much more valuable then the latest iPhone. Before I became rich, we used to eat out at restaurants two-to-three times a week, and order pizza at least once a week. This cost a lot of cash. When I became rich, we started taking the time to fix our own food. I discovered that not only do I love to cook, I’m also pretty good at it. Then we started growing our own food. Then we bought a farm and started raising our own meat and I learned to butcher, process and prepare gourmet hams and sausages and other fine dishes. All of this allowed us to save money and saved money is easily converted into investments and investments eventually grant you returns.
Now you don’t have to take my word for it. You can visit my Facebook page. Seems seldom a month goes by that one or more of my friends doesn’t tell me how rich I am, how I live the life they wish they could live. I am a very rich man, the richest I know, but don’t let that cause you to think you can rob me. Were you to try you would be sorely disappointed because I live a very simple life. I have nothing worth your effort to steal. Were you to break into my house you would think I was poor, so poor that you would be tempted to leave something behind to help me out. My wealth is inside, and it is outside. It is in the views around my farm. It is present when I pet my donkeys or run with my dogs. I won’t get all sanctimonious here, but I will tell you about one piece of scripture that has made all the difference in my life. “Be content with such as you have…” Hebrews, Chapter 13 Verse 5. I am content and that translates to rich.
Money isn’t everything and it sure can’t buy you happiness. I feel it’s only fair to point out that I am very aware that not everyone is as fortunate as I am. I have a career that I love. Not sure how happy I’d be if I had to work a job that I didn’t love. I’ll also point out that I had to work real hard to build my business, and it wasn’t always easy. I’ll end this with one of my all time favorite quotes from Abraham Lincoln. “And in the end it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”