Have you ever experienced something that is counter-intuitive but actually worked very well?
There are many “social paradoxes” where common sense goes right out the window. Two that you might be familiar with are:
- You need to slow down to speed up (when rushing through a big project)
- You need to take breaks to be more productive (instead of plowing through a big task)
I’m fascinated by these.
For those people who know me well, I’m a deep thinker and very logical. I enjoy piecing together thoughts and weaving ideas together. So social paradoxes naturally get me thinking!
What if I were to tell you there’s one money-related paradox that’s my favorite. Ready for it?
You experience true wealth by giving money away.
Now I know what you’re thinking… Shaun, have you lost it? That doesn’t make any sense!
Like the other ones, at first glance, it appears counter-intuitive, but trust me, it works!
Let me break it down for you…
A feeling of being wealthy stems from a sense of contentment. Only when you feel like you have enough will you be wealthy in your own eyes.
You see, a sense of being wealthy isn’t defined by what you have. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. A sense of feeling wealthy comes from what’s inside you – namely how much you value money and how much you appreciate what you have. Giving away money helps you develop a positive perspective on both of these things.
Giving away money changes how much you value it
I’ve seen an exercise done once before that I found interesting…
Fill in the blank for me: “________ is the root of all evil.”
I’m guessing most of you said “Money”?
Nope! It’s actually “The love of money.” This small difference has a significant impact on the overall meaning. This quote is taken from the Bible (1 Timothy 6:10), written over 2000 years ago and is just applicable to us today.
You see money itself isn’t bad. It’s a requirement to have the necessities of life! But the idea of loving money is different. It’s a heart issue that can be a vicious downward spiral.
The reality is that some of us struggle with a sense of always craving more.
We set goals for ourselves, but they’re moving targets. We say after I’ve saved $25K I’ll be OK, only to find ourselves trying to save $50K or even $100K. For some of us, there’s no such thing as “enough.”
We might continue pushing for more money as we feel it gives us a sense of security or maybe we’re naturally over-ambitious people.
Are your eyes always set on acquiring more or better things? Do you ever feel that your bank account is never high enough? None of these things bring lasting happiness or a sense of contentment.
If in your heart you always crave more, you’ll never find yourself feeling wealthy.
Oddly enough, giving away money is a great practice for those who wrestle with this.
By letting go of money, you prove to yourself that it doesn’t control you, and you don’t place your sense of worth in it. That’s huge.
If you do this, over time, you won’t help but notice your sense of contentment will improve. You might even get more excited to give rather than receive.
I can speak from first-hand experience.
Now I can’t say I was ever a greedy, ruthless businessman. I’d like to think I’ve been “grounded” for most of my career. But I will say increasing how much I’ve given over the past couple of years has changed how wealthy I feel. I feel more content with what I have by giving away more (note: the idea of “giving” is precisely why I started this blog too!)
This one is pretty straightforward. The more you give to the less fortunate, the more you gain a perspective on how much you really have.
Those in developed countries are privileged relative to the rest of the world. Take a look at the chart below – in it BBC (and data from Credit Suisse) shows where the 1% live globally.
We might not feel wealthy every day, but that’s because we often suffer from a “keeping up with the Jones'” complex.
The majority of us have the basics covered: food, shelter, and clothing often aren’t a problem. If they are, we have public systems in place to help us. We live in countries where we can create our own opportunities. We can build our own businesses, and we have the freedom to try new things and speak freely. There’s lots to be thankful for!
That being said, there are less fortunate people out there – both overseas and right in our backyard. Poverty is a reality in most countries but we can get so consumed in acquiring more and more that we don’t see the need that’s all around us. By giving away money to those who need it, it’s hard not to gain an appreciation for what you have.
A sense of feeling wealthy isn’t strictly tied to dollars and cents. If you’re not feeling as wealthy as you want to be, start by looking “inside” first.
Are you in pursuit of money? Have you taken inventory recently of all the things you do have?
Sure, there are times where we need to improve how much we earn and save (a lot of my posts talk about this!), but it’s equally important not lose sight on how fortunate we really are.
If you haven’t already, I will encourage you to find a charity or organization you have a real passion for that helps others. Commit to supporting them on a regular basis. Not only will you be making a difference, but you’ll also build a stronger appreciation for what you do have.
Think it through
- Has this perspective changed how “wealthy” you feel? How so?
- Do you feel you’re in pursuit of money? If so, what’s driving it?
- What can you do to help show money has less “control” on you?
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