My mentor Josh smiled when he heard my words.
He was perhaps amused by my naivety and lack of life experience- after all I was just in my twenties working on my first job.
We were chatting about lottery winners and I told Josh that I would be the happiest person on earth if I won a million dollar lottery.
He thought for a few seconds and said, "I guess that's what you would think, but you'll be surprised how little money affects happiness beyond a certain point."
I replied, "Are you kidding me? Are you telling me, you wouldn't be happy if you won the lottery? If you had a million dollars, would you even be doing this job?"
Josh again gave it a thought, "Maybe not, but I think I will be bored very soon and I will start looking for a new job or perhaps start my own business."
I asked him, puzzled, "Look for a new job? Why would you ever want to work again if you had so much money you could retire."
Josh thought for a moment and asked, "What would you do if you had that much money?"
I replied without hesitation, "I would quit my job, invest that money and relax on the beach."
Josh smiled again, "That's what we think we would do, but life doesn't work that way. Pretty soon, you will be bored and will be looking for a new challenge."
I declared, "I don't need any challenge. I want a problem-free life."
Josh laughed, "A problem free life? That doesn't exist. We'll always have problems and we always need a challenge, else the mind will go crazy.
Why do you think even the most successful sportsmen still practice everyday, why do the top musicians, singers, artists continue to hone their skills, why do millionaires want to further increase their wealth and why do businessmen want to grow their already successful business?
It's because they genuinely love what they do, they always want to grow and face new challenges."
Josh was right and I was so naive to think that if only I had a million dollars, all my life problems would disappear.
That's simply not true.
Joyce Meyer said, "New level, new devil" meaning no matter how successful you are in life, you will always have new problems and challenges in your life.
When you are first running a startup, your problem may be lack of seed funding and if you are successful in getting investors, you create a new problem
- how to spend the funding wisely - do you allocate the money to hire and expand your team, do you spend the funds on Research and Development or do you dedicate the dollars for Sales and Marketing?
When you are single and lonely, your problem is not being able to attract the right person to date and if you are able to attract someone, you create a new problem
- how to pace your relationship, how to set expectations and boundaries and how to accept rejection if the other person doesn't like you or how to gently reject him or her if you don't like them.
When you are obese and lethargic, your problem is not having the energy and stamina to do things you want to do - run, play and engage in physical activity but when you start eating healthy or exercising, your create a new problem
- breaking bad habits, dealing with food cravings, spending money to join a gym membership or buying an exercise equipment or paying for the personal trainer.
When you are in a non-managerial position, your problem is being stuck low in the corporate ladder with mediocre pay and if you are promoted as the manager,
your new problem is learning to delegate and manage the team effectively and dealing with more pressure and stress that comes with increased responsibility.
When you are growing, you'll still have problems, but they are usually "better problems" - problems nonetheless.
Mark Manson reinforces the same in his book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and so does Tony Robbins in his audio program Personal Power.
Jim Rohn said, “Don't wish it was easier, wish you were better. Don't wish for less problems, wish for more skills. Don't wish for less challenge, wish for more wisdom.”
Solving "better problems" will help you grow, improve and pursue greater challenges in life while avoiding them will keep you terrified, stuck and unfulfilled.
Going back to the lottery winners, research studies have been done to study their happiness and the results are kind of mixed. There are some studies that claim winning a lottery doesn't improve your happiness while others argue otherwise.
Whatever the case may be, one thing is for sure.
As Dan Gilbert points out, the combined net worth of Sergey Brin, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg is about 500 billion dollars but they are NOT always happy and they are definitely not billions of times happier than an average person with average wealth.
Now that I have learned about money and happiness, I am off to putting my wisdom into practice - heading out to buy a lottery ticket and putting my happiness on hold till I become a million dollar lottery winner 🙂