Change The World, Make Money, Or Be Happy
Nov 13 2011

Buddha Stone Statue in China

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How often can people do/experience all of the above?  There are people who have changed the world (e.g., Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, etc.) who didn’t make a lot of money and we won’t ever know if they were truly happy, healthy or content.  There are people who changed the world and made a lot of money (e.g., Oprah, Steve Jobs, Madonna, Lady Ga Ga, Michael Dell, Bill Gates, etc.) but we don’t know how happy or content they are or were.  Oprah has been the most open about her struggles with personal satisfaction and her weight…the businessmen, not so much.

Do we have to deal with having one or two out of three?  I think I can count on one hand the people who appeared to have all three but if you dig a little further…  Check out a recent post on TechCrunch called 10 Things Entrepreneurs Don’t Learn in College.  All very true, the second being “How To Be Betrayed,” which happens all of the time in business (and politics) whether you are a man, woman, or a duck.  I clicked over to the authors (James Altucher) post on how to be lucky and it made me wonder if he had kids because he advises getting up at 4 or 5 a.m. every day and to bed by 9:30 pm with exercising and eating right in between.  Maybe I’ll figure out how to do that when I’m 50 and the kids are gone.  I guess that’s why some are more monetary successful than others…early bird gets the worm!

The saying “you can have it all, but just not all at the same time” must be true.  So it seems the thing we have the most control over is how we feel: happy, sad, content, angry, etc.  We can try to change the world but there’s no telling what numerous things will be thrown in our path.  We can try to make tons of money, but a lot of shit happens (e.g., kids, health issues, the economy, marriage, divorce, love, hate, indifference, parents) trying to do that.  But we will usually find ways to make enough to get by or we become comfortable with a lot of debt.

I was reminded during my recent trip to China that Buddha, who was born and originally spread his philosophy in India before his teachings were embraced by the Chinese, taught that at the root of all suffering was desire (for a person, place, thing, success, money, etc.).  As I understand it, he said that if you gave up the desire for earthly things or status that would be the only way you could eventually achieve enlightenment.  He certainly changed the world and was arguably content/enlightened but was not rich by American standards.

I guess it depends on what age you are, your genetic disposition, and what cards life has dealt you as to whether you believe you can achieve all three at the same time for a substantial length of time…

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