A few years ago, I read The 4-Hour Workweek, by Tim Ferris. Every business book I had read before it talked about how to increase revenues and make more money. The 4-Hour Workweek was different. It talked about making ENOUGH money to live the kind of life you want. Interesting, isn’t it? I never thought there was such thing as enough money. I mean, if you can have more, why would you settle for less, right?
About two weeks later I read an interview in which one of the founders of PayPal -a guy worth tens of millions of dollars- was telling how he sold his Porsche Boxster and replaced it with a much more affordable Toyota Prius. He said that when you have a Boxster, you want a Porsche 911, and once you have the 911, you want a Ferrari. Our minds get used to what we have quickly and, all too soon, what we have isn’t enough. He said he wanted to be a Prius guy, not a Ferrari guy.
Think about it: when you’re a Ferrari person, people have huge expectations about you and you have a lot more pressure on your shoulders than a Prius person. If you’re thinking: “that might be true, but a Ferrari will make me much happier than a Prius”, let me share the results of a research performed by Dan Gilbert, the author of Stumbling on Happiness.
He measured the happiness levels of two groups of people:

  • Recent lottery winners
  • Folks who recently lost both legs

A week after the events (winning the lottery or losing their legs), the lottery group was a lot happier than the other group. But, six months after the events, both groups had equal levels of happiness. This is because, after a while, you get used to your new situation, you accept it and it becomes part of your life. In fact, during periods of my life when I was pretty broke, I wasn’t less happy than I am now.
This doesn’t mean that I didn’t work hard to get out of my financial problems. I saw them as a challenge that I wanted to overcome (and I did). But, I learned a few lessons:

  • Happiness doesn’t depend on how much money I make. I know countless happy, poor people and unhappy, rich folks. I bet you do, too.
  • There are periods in our life when we feel like getting to the next level, and we should. But, there are also periods when we feel happy where we are and we shouldn’t try to get to the next level just because we can. Enjoying the place we are is a very important part of the equation. If you’re not moving forward, it doesn’t mean you’re moving backward; you’re just in one place and having a good time, and this is a great thing to do.
  • Make a list of what you want, figure out how much money you need to get it all. You’ll discover that to live the life of your dreams you need a lot less than you thought.
  • Don’t wait until you have a lot of money to do what you want. I wanted to have a lot of money to retire for five years and travel around the world. Once I put together a big pile of cash, I started my trip. I discovered two things: 1) traveling was a lot cheaper than I thought. I could have started my trip a few years before. 2) Being retired is boring! After traveling for six months I couldn’t help myself and I started a new business.

Making money can be a lot of fun, but you can be happy no matter how big your bank account is. (Yeah, I know this is corny, but it’s also very true.)