Ah- the American Dream! Big house, fancy cars, fat retirement account, 2 kids, a dog and a white picket fence. Is this really a dream or is it a curse? For your typical overachiever (like me) the pursuit of wealth can be all consuming. It can swallow you and ALL of your energy. Is this what life is all about? Is this really the DREAM?
If you ask any successful person about their life goals you will likely get a response that refers in some way to money. While I understand that money brings a level of security and clarity to the future, I am convinced that we place far too great an emphasis on the need to have money and possessions to feel successful.
I remember telling the lady who took my high school senior pictures that my only goal in life was to be happy. Have I really lived up to that statement?
In my mission travels and service work, I have had the pleasure to meet the most remarkable people. In many cases these folks have very little money or possessions, yet they live as though they are wealthy with an amazing attitude and a genuine zest for life. I have other friends who have abundant resources and wealth and they are simply miserable. This is an amazing paradox- Those with less are often happier than those with more. As I have examined this phenomenon, I have begun to redefine my view of what it means to be rich.
How can the poorest folks in the world be so happy? How can they have any feeling of security and peace not knowing where they will get their next meal?
Living the rich life is really about depth. The truly rich people that I have met take the time and make the effort to cultivate deep relationships and love for their families, friends and communities. This is so contrary to our modern lifestyle today. We try so hard to be everywhere and everything at once. We typically have nothing but “drive-by” relationships. Even our relationships with our families can be weak and superficial. And the worst part is that we model the behavior to our children and coworkers.
We must take the time to value others.
We must take the time to give back to our community.
We must take time to see the beauty that is all around us.
We must take to time to pour into others.
What we all have to give is truly priceless- and it cannot be duplicated. We must fight the urge to remain on the surface. We must go deep.
Yes- it is dangerous.
Yes- it is complicated.
Yes- it can be painful.
However, the rewards far outweight the risks. So here is your “get rich” plan:
Put Things In Perspective: Carve out things in your life that are consuming you only for the purpose of making money. Yes- We all need to eat. Yet, what kind of life are you living if you are killing yourself to make a living? You will not starve. You will be fine.
Slow Down: You do not need to be the fastest at everything. You are missing the world- it is passing you by! Slow down and really SEE what is going on around you. If you have conditioned your boss, friends, or spouse to expect lightspeed this may be a tough transition- but this is your life! Take control of your time and your life. We all experience stressful times but your life should not be a constant race.
Go Deep: Take your relationships deeper by asking questions and sharing your own personal struggles. To “go deep” you must be transparent and vulnerable. The root of superficiality is really self-centeredness. You must be willing to get closer to friends, family and coworkers in order to enjoy the richness that results from the deep bond of great relationships.
Get Involved: Get off of the sidelines and get involved! Give back to your community and those in need. My wife and I have been in dirt floor huts and been offered food from the poorest folks you can imagine. They get it! They want to serve us! Find a service project or get involved in your church. Find a young person and pour into them. Share your knowledge and your life experiences. Take time to train up the next generation. They want your help. They NEED your help.
The rich life is a choice. You can choose to chase money, fame, or possessions or you can choose to go deeper. You can break free of the bonds of superficiality and enter a world of true love focused on others instead of yourself. Are you ready? Would you like to be rich?