Living the Good Life is not a matter of winning the lottery. People who have come into a lot of money often end up more miserable–and destitute–than before the “lucky” event. Still, our fantasies are about having life suddenly become wonderful because we have all the money we could ever hope to require.
Remember the adage “You can never get enough of what you don’t really need”? Well, that applies to money as a resource for “livin’ large”–in capital letters!
It’s not about “being able to have the money to do whatever I want.” Money isn’t what’s stopping most of us. We don’t put our priorities where our hearts are and then blame not having enough money for the disappointment.
Let’s try an experiment. If you could do anything you chose with the day you are currently living, what would it be? How many of you said “Buy a Ferrari”? How many said “Buy a huge house with a massive pool and hire ten servants”?
It’s not the stuff that money can buy that makes the biggest difference. Perhaps you said “Take my family on a cruise.” Yes, that does take money, and you may not have it. But what you want is some special time with your loved ones. A cruise would be nice, but not doing anything because you can’t afford that keeps you from “livin’ large.”
There are all kinds of affordable directions to go with your fantasy of taking the family on a cruise. You could do a “virtual cruise” where every family member chooses a port of call and then provides the images and information so everyone else feels a bit like they’ve been there. (That means you would not be limited to a real route either. On the web, going from Paris to Phuket, Thailand is just as fast as going from Minneapolis to St. Paul.)
Or you could invite everyone to your place for an overnight and do the “shipboard” things yourself–midnight buffet or elaborate dinner (with friends as staff), elegant clothes expected of the “cruisers”, ballroom dancing–or whatever parody of it you want to invent.
What you need is fun with your family. Don’t wait around for someone to drop a wad of cash in your lap so you can do something someone else is trying to tell you and sell you as fun.
One of the most distressing aspects of our high-tech, buy-it-right-now culture is that we’ve forgotten how to invent fun. We can chose any movie we want “on demand.” We can buy clothes at midnight sitting at the computer in our underwear. That progress may give us a lot of things “instantly” that we had to wait days or weeks and mount multiple shopping trips for before. But it has left us a bit short in terms of creative success at coming up with an alternative when what we “want” is something we know we can’t afford–or find. (It’s also whacked the daylights out of our ability to say “no” more often when “affording it” is a stretch.)
Livin’ large is about doing what you really want to do. If your values and your actions are not in sync, no amount of money is going to make you happy. If you are doing what you believe is the most important thing to do, most–if not all–of time, you are most likely grinning from ear to ear far more often than those more affluent and more rudderless.
If you want to feel rich, start with what you do with your time. Annie Dillard said it well: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
Do what you believe in. Focus your time and energy on the people and things you enjoy. Publisher’s Clearinghouse may come along anyway. If so, you will find that a lot of money is nice, but a lot of meaning is better.