You are scrolling through Instagram. And you see yet another person living his dream life, wearing luxurious clothes, and traveling the world with beautiful women.
You are in the gym going through your standard exercise routine and you see someone with the body you want.
You scroll through Facebook on Friday night, tired and bored after a hard day’s work, and you see a friend of a friend who is having the time of his life at a party and posting pictures of it.
Comparing yourself to others does not feel good. And you know it. But you still find yourself doing it and feeling less happy than you could. What makes this worse is that there are hundreds of things you can measure yourself against where someone has you beat, the Internet bombards with you with comparison temptation, and always a higher level to get to. Even when you reach a really high level of wealth, achievement, or skill, you can still feel horrible because you are comparing yourself to those even better than you.
In this episode of Will’s Personal Development Podcast, we will discuss how to achieve mastery of comparison. A common phrase used in America is, “Keeping up with the Jones.” It refers to a constant competition to keep up with the possessions and achievements with neighbors you don’t even like. We’ll talk about conquering this.
Prepare to learn:
why people compare themselves to others.
why we should not compare ourselves with others.
why comparing yourself to others can lead to anxiety and depression.
how to have the self-confidence so you do not compare yourself to others.
Here is a summary of some of the big points in the podcast for those who are busy:
Realize it’s a never-ending comparison battle if you let it. When it comes to materialistic or superficial achievements like money, fame, sex, or trophies, there is always someone with more to compare yourself to.
The Internet and social media can be toxic for your mental health because of the constant temptations of comparison on there. Often, it is a curation of someone’s Photoshopped, artificially crafted highlights of his or her life, but we misinterpret it as their typical day-to-day life. Influencers won’t tell you about this even if they know it’s true because they want you to follow them.
Young women have a natural tendency to showcase and curate their lives on social media. It may be a genetic tendency to attract mates.
I learned a technique from Dan Sullivan, a strategic coach who has coached thousands of entrepreneurs. He found that most entrepreneurs only look forward and therefore always feel unhappy because their horizon keeps moving up. Instead, compare yourself to your past. Acknowledge and celebrate how far you have come.
As Warren Buffett says, “Live your life by an inner scorecard.” What he means is most people live by an “outer scorecard.” They would rather have others think they have achieved a lot when they really haven’t. Ask yourself if you would rather be the world’s greatest lover, but have everyone think you’re the worst… or the world’s worst lover and have everyone think you’re the best?
Here is the question of the day for you: Have you ever struggled with comparison and what has worked best with dealing with it? Please let me know in the comments.
I thought I would leave you with some useful quotes on comparing yourself to others from successful people:
“Comparison is the death of joy.” ― Mark Twain, famed writer
“How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy.” ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.” ―Lao Tzu, Chinese Philosopher
“Your Highest Self only wants you to be at peace. It does not judge, compare, or demand that you defeat anyone or be better than anyone.”
―Wayne Dyer, Self-Help Guru
“I generally find that comparison is the fast track to unhappiness. No one ever compares themselves to someone else and comes out even. Nine times out of ten, we compare ourselves to people who are somehow better than us and end up feeling more inadequate.”
―Jack Canfield, Chicken Soup Series author
“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”
―Dave Ramsey, The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness
Are you sick of people’s opinions on what brings happiness?
I talked to everyone from relatives to religious men and consumed everything I could find online.
But I just wasn’t sure if it was the truth. And it wasn’t really helping. I wanted rigorous tested research that I could trust. And I finally found it…
This is the complete, definitive guide on how to obtain happiness in life based on scientific research.
And when I say happy, I mean long-lasting, sustainable happiness rather than short-term fleeting happiness.
This topic is really dear to my heart.
For many years, I struggled with happiness. Like most people, I was told a lot of theories and beliefs on what brings happiness.
These included: getting rich makes you happy, having a girlfriend makes you happier, happiness comes from God, happiness comes from within, happiness comes from action, and just be happy!
For thousands of years, humans had to just go on guesses and try things out until something worked for them. Some of them found it through religion while others found it in their own way.
After a lot of confusion and struggle, I turned to science. I wanted the cold, hard facts.
Surely, there must have been studies down on a good sample size of thousands of people.
There must be good information out there.
It turns out I was right.
After a lot of sorting through crappy videos and books, I found some saints who had done the heavy lifting for me. There is a lot of scientific data on this, and more to come in the future.
Why should you be happy?
This is actually a great philosophical question. Why be happy at all? Why should we care to have a pleasant feeling inside that happiness brings?
Why do anything to be happier in the first place if you don’t care about that fuzzy feeling?
Great question. It’s great that you’re thinking.
According to the books The Happiness Advantage and The How of Happiness, studies have shown that being happier helps you live longer, make more money, do better at work, seem more attractive, do better in dating, be a better parent, be more likeable, be better with social skills, and a number of other things.
Increased happiness ripples through to greater levels of success in almost every other area of your life.
1. Realize Up to 60% of happiness is Genetic… But That’s A Good Thing!
Whether you win the lottery or get your legs chopped off in some accident, you might eventually come back to around a ballpark area of happiness. Dan Gilbert illustrates this in a TED Talk, citing many studies:
The key phrase is on average. Some people are happier (or unhappier) because of these events.
And that still leaves a healthy chunk of at least 40% you can control!
I’ve seen it myself. I’m a naturally negative person but I’ve been able to control the 40% I do have to be happier on a regular basis. I’ve seen other successful people do this even better than me.
Use this as encouragement. Even if something really bad happens to you, you can still jump back to your normal level of happiness before that.
2. Realize Money and Materialistic Pleasures Don’t Bring Much Extra Happiness After A Middle Class Income
This is the most important message I want to share with you. Studies have shown that you can buy happiness… until you hit a first-world middle-class income. From there, the extra happiness you can get with more money is less and less. The level of income you need ranges from $40,000 a year to $70,000 a year, depending on the study, before you get most of what you can out of happiness.
That is shocking, because it is much less than the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars a year society tells us we need. Why do we need so little? Because that income covers the basic survival needs that cause unhappiness. It’s awesome when you don’t have to worry about starvation, retirement, or unexpected medical bills. And that’s why increasing most third-world family incomes will help with their happiness: money, on average, does increase happiness for them.
Another reason is because science has discovered that we take for granted any expensive possessions or sexual pleasure we get. The scientific term is called thehedonic treadmill.
Most middle-income families are a great example. Hundreds of thousands of these people live better than the richest billionaire did 100 years ago. They have better possessions and access in every way: entertainment, transportation, housing, choice of food, choice of clothing, choice of goods, and so on.
Yet I bet you many of them aren’t much happier than that billionaire.
Every year, I see celebrities come forth to share how they finally achieved their dreams of wealth and fame to realize it didn’t make them any happier.
We’ve been taught by commercials, ads, society, and the influencers who buy into this that making millions of dollars, buying expensive things, and having a great reputation is what makes us happy. But that’s just not the case.
Some people can’t believe this. But you don’t have to look far to see that this is true. There are many millionaires who I listen to in podcast interviews, which you can too for free, who reveal they are unhappy.
My favorite story about this is from the billionaire Ted Leonsis’s book The Business of Happiness. He was “living the life” with millions in the bank when he found himself in a crashing airplane. Right before he thought he’d die, he realized he was never happy. He survived and spent the second half of his life finding out why he wasn’t happy and doing everything on his “bucket list.”
3. Do Gratitude Exercises
One constant theme you’ll find with all these exercises is that they don’t require much money.
Thank someone you should’ve thanked years ago you didn’t.
Go somewhere you can marvel or savor. Marvel and be grateful. Scenic locations work great.
4. Help People Out by Giving Your Time or Money (Even A Small Amount and Even To Strangers)
According to the book Social by Matt Lieberman, we get a lot of well-being and happiness from social interactions and relationships with a community.
According to the studies mentioned in the TED Talk by Michael Norton, spending even a small amount of money on others creates a long-lasting boost in happiness, while spending the same amount on yourself creates a small amount of delight that fades quickly.
If you do not have a lot to give, that’s fine. Giving a small amount to someone, even a stranger, who really needs it can do the trick. A cup of coffee for yourself creates a “happiness” that fades quickly, for example, but a meal for someone else who is starving creates something you can hold with you for weeks. Try to buy something for someone rather than just give them money if you can.
If you don’t have money, give your time. Volunteer somewhere or fund-raise for charity.
5. Stay in the moment. Find work that puts you in a state of flow.
Matt Killingsworth designed an app that tracked people’s happiness. Through a lot of data, he found that no matter the task, people were more happy when they were focused on the task rather than drifting off or day dreaming.
After studying thousands of the world’s most successful people, I found that most of them perfected their craft in a state of flow. Time flew by because they were so engrossed in their work.
You simply have to spend several more seconds enjoying and appreciating an awesome moment that occurred. It can be something that always happens everyday that you usually pass over quickly, like a girl smiling at you, you making her laugh, or enjoying an ice cream. Instead, savor it. Prolong it. Stay with it.
Also, you can find things that you enjoy doing and spend more time enjoying them in that moment. These can be very simple things that are easily accessible.
For example, I really love food and nature. I take my time to chew slower. I take my time to marvel at the leaves on a tree or the colors of a setting sun.
Rick Hanson goes into great detail in his book on ways over prolonging and properly savoring a positive moment. One of my favorite suggestions is looking at a common experience in a different or new way.
Let’s say you really appreciate the detail of a flower. How about appreciating it in a new way? Appreciate how it is a core component to the ecosystem and the geometric or biological structure. Or just how the colors work together.
I recommend the book Hardwiring Happiness if you want more detail on different exercises.
Mindfulness meditation is a great way of improving your ability to stay present. It can take over a year to see the effects of consistent meditation, but it’s worth it. Just 5 minutes a day can get you going.
7. Develop Great Social Relationships and Keep In Touch At Least Once A Week
Develop great friendships with your local community.
In Matt Lieberman’s book Social, studies showed that meeting with a good friend at least once a week, staying healthy, and volunteering at least once lead to increases in well-being equivalent to significant increases in salary.
8. Make Sure You Exercise
A 1999 study was done on groups of people who suffered from depression. There were three groups who were studied: one group that exercised, a group that took anti-depressants, a group that exercised and took anti-depressants, and a control group (that did nothing).
The group that exercised took longer for the people to get out of depression than the other groups. But when they checked back on the groups 6 months and a year later, the group that exercised had the lowest amount of people relapse into depression.
This is not to say that anti-depressants are not useful. It simply says that exercise can also be quite useful.
The Harvard lecturer Tal Ben-Shahar said in a lecture that exercise is not just a substitute for an anti-depressant. It’s the lack of exercises that depresses us. We are genetically wired to be active and moving in the fields like our ancestors, but many of us do not get a chance to do that in modern society.
The reason for this wiring dates back to prehistoric times. For our survival, we evolved the tendency to overemphasize negative events because overlooking them could cause us death.
A jealous rival’s comment could mean he was going to attempt to kill you in the tribe soon. A patch of grass that had the shape of a dangerous animal could spell death if not emphasized.
In modern society however, it’s toxic to overemphasize the negative because the thoughts are more potent than the actual potential consequences. A negative comment from a random stranger online has very little real possible result.
In the book Hardwiring Happiness, neuropsychologist Rick Hanson states that you should do your best to avoid exposure to negative news, comments, and influences from media, the internet, Youtube, TV, and other people.
We are wired to dramatically overemphasize these because we had to in order to survive in our prehistoric past. It can take 3 to 10 positive influences to match the weight of a single negative influence.
Turn off your phone from time to time. Take some time off of social media (especially Instagram and Facebook). These platforms are filled with people showing off how they’re better than you, which really screws with your happiness.
Only make friends with positive, happy people.
Avoiding or hiding from negative things is only a temporary fix. The most successful people I’ve met do shield themselves partially. But they’re really good at being able to stay happy and positive no matter what negative events or influences occur.
Often, what holds us back from happiness is memories of a bad past, such as childhood neglect, lack of validation, or abuse. You can and should get past it. Forgive those who have wronged you or else you can not move forward. They will chain you down.
The past has happened and cannot be changed. Therefore, there is no use dwelling on it. One of the only uses for the past is to learn from it to make better decisions in the present. Otherwise, move on.
12. Move Closer To Your Job
A study by Frey and Stutzer found that the farther you had to commute to work, the lower your well-being (happiness). For a man who makes $1,283 Euros a month ($1,389 a month), it requires 242 Euros (18.86% of monthly wage) to make up for 23 extra minutes of commute and 515 Euros (40% of the monthly wage) to make up for an hours worth of commute.
13. Try Religion (Optional)
Studies have shown a positive correlation between long-term happiness and religion. One possible reason why this exists is because a lot of religions naturally have a lot of gratitude-practicing exercises in it.
If you are not religious or you don’t want to, that’s O.K. As you’ll see in the next point, you don’t need to do use every happiness-boosting factor listed to achieve optimal levels of happiness…
14. Realize People Are Different. Do What Suits You Best.
There are a dozen foundational principles that can increase your long-term, sustainable happiness. Having said that, you don’t need to do them all to achieve peak happiness.
Religion is a great example. Some people are not religious and choose not to be. Therefore, it would not be a fit to use that to increase happiness if they do want to.
By combining as many of these as you can (that fit your lifestyle and interests) into a consistent habit, you can dramatically boost your happiness forever.
15. Realize These Practices Take Time to Build Into A Habit.
These exercises aren’t easy. It takes time and effort to maintain them. But if you do, the rewards will be greater than ever.
Neuropsychologist and author of Hardwiring Happiness, Rick Hanson, says that you can literally change the physiology and structure of your brain through consistent practice.
The brain is a very malleable and plastic thing. It’s amazing. When I read Hardwiring Happiness, I found that taxi drivers that memorized different routes and meditation practitioners increased the density and size of different areas of their brain.
Just like when a dog that salivates when a bell is rung because he knows it’s time for food, you are wired to feel things when certain triggers ring, such as a song that reminds you of an ex-girlfriend.
Here’s exactly how Rick suggests you get over negative experiences: Think of a positive experience like someone who loves you.
Have his or her love in your mind. Close your eyes.
Enrich and prolong that experience for at least 20 seconds so that it moves from short-term to long-term memory.
Absorb the love.
Link it. Associate it with a negative memory or event you’re struggling with. These will wire these two events together if you do it enough. The good will wash over the bad.
You can use this to heal old pain, neglect, or new struggles.
16. Spend on Experiences Rather than Events or Possessions
Studies have shown that if you spend money on a great experience with another person, or people, you will be happier than if you spend it on a possession or event. For example, you could remember it better and have more fun if you choose to go to Chuck-E-Cheese and goof off with your adult friends rather than go to a boring expensive restaurant or buy a fancy car.
17. Have More Sex and Conversations?
In this lecture below, Professor Dan Gilbert shows a study that discover people are most happy when having sex and talking to others. I will have to be more investigation on the actual study because this study may be measuring short-term delight rather than long-term contentment or happiness.
Happiness can be changed. No more theories. No more opinions from random people.
If you want further reading on this, I suggest the book The How of Happiness which walks through all the things I say in a more comprehensive, but easy-to-read manner.
It is the best book I have read on the topic. And I went through a lot of bad books on happiness to get to it. It’s one of the few books that doesn’t just use random cherry-picked studies to support random ideas about happiness.
In the United States, we celebrate a holiday called Thanksgiving. It is arguably the best holiday of the year to make you happier. And that’s science-backed.
Some people think the holiday is about eating massive piles of food.
You see, Thanksgiving started as a holiday to remind ourselves to give thanks for what we have. And gratitude has been scientifically proven to be one of the best exercises you can do for long term happiness.
Rich people know this better than anyone. Almost every week, I stumble across another successful entrepreneur admitting in a podcast how he feels sad even though he’s rich. It is because they never appreciate what they already have. Sometimes, you need to look backwards rather than forward.
In this video, I want to share with you a story I recently experienced to inspire you to be more grateful for what we have. Gratitude is honestly appreciating what you have, big and small. It can be the limbs or eyes you have. It could be the food on your table. Or, as you will see, it could be what country you were born into.
Now, it’s your turn.
Take a quick second to list at least three things you are grateful for. Make some effort to put some detail into why you are grateful for these things and go beyond the obvious. You will get more benefit from doing that than just listing what I already said.
Try to evoke emotion. Get out of your intellectual head. Be thankful for something that sparks some emotion because it will have a stronger effect.
If you are a helpful person, share this with someone who would appreciate it.
Imagine hitting all your life and financial goals. Sounds great, right?
But many people who get there hit a funk. Questions like, “Is this all there is to it?”, “What do I do now?” and “I don’t feel any happier” pop up.
This is an extra special episode of Will’s Personal Development Podcast because it is a theme that I see is a problem for billions of people who are told by mainstream entertainment that money or fame will make them happy… when it does not. And I will prove it to you, with science.
In this episode, I dive into what to do if you are rich and successful but not happy. I will use science backed answers to explain why this happens and how to fix this. Be prepared to learn:
why you do not need to give all your money to charity to feel happy.
why people who have nothing can have so much fun and be so happy.
what rigorous, unbiased scientific research reveals about the relationship between money and happiness (it’s shocking).
If you are an ambitious person and want free updates to value-packed self-help podcast episodes, please subscribe:
Here is a summary of some of the big points I brought up in the podcast for those who are busy:
Some entrepreneurs, like Jeff Walker, turn to a higher purpose after they have hit their money goals. For Jeff, this was to impact and make a difference on entrepreneurs who change the world.
Practice happiness-building practices that science shows actually brings happiness (exercise, gratitude, savoring the good, avoiding dwelling on the bad and comparison, and/or religion). See the link below to the 13 principles for more details.
If you are ever struggling with not feeling accomplished or happy with what you have achieved, even if you have achieved a lot, try this:
Compare yourself to where you were in the past rather than to others better than you or your future potential. You may be constantly beating yourself up by always comparing yourself to someone who is better. This creates an endless cycle of disappointment. I learned this technique from the strategic coach, Dan Sullivan, who has coached over a thousand entrepreneurs.
If you are feeling unfulfilled despite being successful by society’s standards, try out a new career, business, or form of work.
Here is the question of the day for you: What is the #1 lesson you learned from listening to this episode and how will you put it into action immediately? Please let me know in the comments below.
The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason is a timeless classic book that has stood the test of time. I have known about it since the very early days when I first got into the world of self-help and wealth creation world.
If you are not familiar, it is a must-read if you want the essential truths of wealth creation. They first appeared as financial management pamphlets and were eventually compiled into a book. Even to this day, the book is still well known because of its timeless principles on wealth creation. These laws will not change now, nor will it 500 years from now. It’s a short read of 144 pages so it’s not too bad. Here is my book summary and book review of the book:
The book tells a story set in Babylon during ancient times. It’s a parable (a story with lessons in it, like the Bible). Basically, a young man asks a rich person to mentor him. This wealthy man slowly teaches him the rules to wealth, which are timeless and that anyone can apply. He scolds the young man when he makes mistakes, but eventually the boy gets rich.
Here are the top lessons I learned from the book:
1. Spend Less Than You Make. Save and Invest The Difference.
Sounds so obvious but common sense isn’t so common. Most young people I meet have openly admitted that they spend every bit of what they make every paycheck.
This is one of my pet peeves that annoys me most. I know secretly that they will not get rich if they make more money (like they often complain and wish for) because they will just spend more and return down to zero in the bank account.
2. Use Saved Money To Make More Money
“Make thy gold multiply.”
This is probably one of the golden truths of wealth creation that is voiced in many classics like Rich Dad Poor Dad. Kevin O’Leary of Shark Tank explains this well. He imagines every dollar like little soldiers. Everyday, his mission is to capture more soldiers and get those soldiers to work to capture even more soldiers.
Most people are using that money on things that rust, rot, or deteriorate to a net worth of zero. These include houses, cars, boats, clothing, watches, jewelry, or any merchandise. You’re making someone else rich by doing that.
What are the smart people doing? They’re taking every dollar they save and spending that on something that will make them MORE money. Usually, it’s on something that they’re skilled at or can understand: a basketball player might spend it on basketball lessons, a programmer might spend it on an exclusive programming in-person training, a businessman might spend it on a small business that will make him more money.
Warren Buffett did this ever since he was a baby. He bought soda in a store and sold it to people in the summer for multiple times the price. He eventually worked his way up to buying pinball machines and setting them up in restaurants. He split the profits 50/50 with the restaurant owners. He slowly worked up to bigger and bigger businesses until he became the richest man in the world.
3. Only Take Advice From People Skilled In That Field
“Gold clingeth to the protection of the cautious owner who invests it under the advice of men wise in its handling.”
This law is a less frequently voiced law of wealth and business but so crucial. Why? Because if you invest in investments that sound too good to be true, they usually are. If you invest with people who tell you what you want to hear but know close to nothing about the industry, they will lose the money. If you invest foolishly, your money is as good as gone.
Only take advice from the best people in a field. Be careful of any other advice that comes your way. Everyone loves giving advice. The book illustrates this with a story of the main character investing his money with foreign jewel traders that promised to bring back rare jewels for cheap. He was scammed and brought back fake jewels. He also tried investing his money in the shield business with a man who worked as a cloth maker (and clearly didn’t know a thing about the shield industry). Guess what happened? Need I say more?
An example would be listening to advice from the tailor on jewelry or business. What does this guy know about either of these things? NOTHING! That’s why he’s a tailor. Find an expert at business or jewelry who has made a lot of money (and can prove it).
Sounds simple but you’d be surprised how many people listen to anyone’s advice. A lot of successful people do listen to advice, but it’s not as stringent as it should. They will listen to anyone who sounds successful or looks rich or is on a fairly famous podcast or has made at least 6 figures.
Lately, I’ve become more and more stringent with who’s advice I listen to. I apply a test of high relevancy, credibility, and results to who I listen to. A millionaire who made his money in real estate should not be giving me advice about the shoe industry.
4. Only Invest Your Money In Industries and Skills You Are Very Familiar With Or You’ll Lose Your Money
“Gold slippeth away from the man who invests it in businesses or purposes with which he is not familiar or which are not approved by those who are skilled in its keep.”
Along a similar theme as the last point, you only want to invest in industries that you are familiar with. For example, let’s say you don’t know much about real estate. Investing money in it is like throwing it out the window because it’s easy for people to mislead you or for factors you didn’t consider to deplete your investment.
Just like you shouldn’t try to do heart surgery with no knowledge or experience with surgery, you should not waste your hard earned money on areas you aren’t familiar with.
5. Don’t Wish For A Lump Sum of Cash. Work To Achieve A Consistent Cash Flow Instead.
People wish that they get lucky and win a lottery. But any lump sum of cash you win will eventually go to zero and you’ll be broke again. In fact, many lottery winners go through their whole winnings within a year. And their happiness levels go back down to zero.
The craziest part is that usually, they’re no better of than when they started: their fashion, standard of living, and everything else is surprisingly the same. They weren’t smart with their money or have a money-mindset and therefore they bought things that will depreciate to zero value.
Let’s say you win $1 million. A couple cars and 1 house can blow through half or most of it. People overestimate their winnings and start buying everything their friends and family asked of them.
Rather than this, you want to work towards having a consistent and growing system that constantly makes you more money. It’s not how much you have, it’s how much you keep and how much you keep making in the future.
“Gold laboreth diligently and contentedly for the wise owner who finds for it profitable employment, multiplying even as the flocks of the field.”
If you still have doubt that something someone said decades ago still applies, I have a perfect example for you:
I was watching Shark Tank and one of the millionaire businessmen on there, Kevin O’Leary started yelling. Another foolish wantrepreneur had admitted to how he had lost all of his money. Kevin starts explaining how he thinks of money. He says that he treats every dollar as a soldier. He sends his soldiers out to war to “bring back prisoners” (more dollars). Every night he wants to have more soldiers than he had the night before.
It sounds so simple but most people never consider to do this. They spend their money on stuff that will never bring them more money, like clothes, candy, or food. Instead, invest in yourself, your skills, or worthwhile business or income generating opportunities.
6. You Will Lose Money If You Put It To Foolish Use
Here’s the actual quote for this Law:
“Gold flees the man who would force it to impossible earnings or who followeth the alluring advice of tricksters and schemers or who trusts it to his own inexperience and romantic desires in investment”
What this basically means is that if you invest or use money in businesses you aren’t familiar or people who aren’t good at a task, you will lose it. If you push it too hard to earn money in a near-impossible way, you will lose it. If you buy into scammers, you will lose the money. If you spend or use money based on your own inexperience or emotional urges, you will lose it.
7. Put Away 10% of your Earnings and You Won’t Even Notice A Difference in Quality of Living
Pay yourself first. This means that before you spend any of your earnings, put aside 10% for saving and investing.
Your money is not truly yours to keep because you immediately give it away by spending it on rent, food, or items you don’t need.
The book makes a profound point:
If you start with 10% tucked away, you will not even notice the difference. Your quality of life will have no noticeable difference. You surprisingly will learn to live without it.
8. Invest in Your Ability To Earn More
What the heck does that mean?
It means you should spend your time (or money) to improve your skills, knowledge, and ability to earn more money. I truly think is a golden truth to wealth that is most important, yet overlooked constantly, so pay attention:
Most people quit learning at the age of 21 when they finish school. Others are lifelong learned. Until they die at 90 years old, they keep learning and improving. This gives them a huge advantage over time. While the average worker, goes home after work to watch TV, does nothing to improve himself, and rots his or her brain, you can get ahead by improving yourself a little each day.
I read a book called 21 Secrets of Success and Happiness by John Templeton, one of the greatest investors in history, and this was one of his secrets as well.
9. You Will Lose Money If You Let Greed Cloud Your Judgement
There is a difference between having big dreams versus letting your greed influence your decisions. You can build a multi-billion dollar business with a small $1000 investment. It’s been done before. Crazier things have been accomplished.
But that does not mean you buy into a promise of someone offering you a “magic return of millions with a one time investment.” That’s a scam. Often, a lot of billionaires I have studied, like Sam Walton and Warren Buffett, were always very conservative with their investments. They would rather build slowly versus rushing into an opportunity with risky down-side.
“Gold flees the man who would force it to impossible earnings or who followeth the alluring advice of tricksters and schemers or who trusts it to his own inexperience and romantic desires in investment.”
Be cautious when someone promises you something with absurdly good returns that seem too good to be true. It’s not always a scam, but it often is.
10. What You Earn Is Not Yours To Keep Until You Invest It Properly
The book mentions a concept called “what you earn is not yours to keep.” It basically means that just because you earned $100 bucks doesn’t mean it’s really yours because you immediately turn and spend it on items (rent, toys, clothes, etc.). So in reality, it’s their’s to keep.
Instead, immediately take 10% off the top and set it aside into a income-generating system (like a Lemonade stand or McDonald’s) that you own forever and keeps generating you money for you to keep.
11. People Who Take Action Get Luckier Because They Make Their Own Luck
Don’t interpret this to mean, “if you gamble more, you will make more money.” What he’s actually saying here is that people who actually take what they learn and use it (rather than keep it in their head), tend to be more “lucky.” If you are doing everything you can to bend all your odds in your favor, you will have more chances and appear to others to be more lucky.
There is a great quote from one of the world’s best golfers I found that fits well with this. He said:
“The harder I practice, the luckier I get.” -Gary Player
The Book Summarized in Two Sentences
Save and invest 10% of what you earn with people and businesses that are skilled at their craft so you earn more money. Think of every dollar you make as a worker that works for you; make sure it works to earn you more money, not less.
The book was written in the style of olden times. Therefore, some of the words and phrases used are a bit confusing, old-sounding, and feel like they came out of the Bible. Despite the strange words, it’s pretty easy to tell what the main message is in the story and it does work together with the story to set the mood and setting. You sometimes have to read between the lines to get the lesson from the fable.
I can understand why this book as stood the test of time: because the principles are spot-on. Well, at least most of them are…
What I Did Not Like
I do not agree with his advice that “real estate is the best investment of all time” because it’s not. There are plenty of investors and businessmen who made more money focused on businesses other than real estate. Plus, it conflicts with his other point on not investing in something you don’t know. And even if you do know real estate like the back of your hand, I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s the best investment. It really depends on if you have a talent for it, found a niche in real estate that is overlooked, or found a way to be better than everyone else at it. There are thousands of different industries and skills out there to succeed on.
This raises the question of why should I trust George Clason, the author? What makes him credible to give advice? Upon research, it turns out the book was not actually written during the old era displayed in the book. In fact, George wrote it in 1926, a couple years before The Great Depression.
There is not much information on George Clason other than he lived to 82, divorced twice, started two businesses, served in the Army, and wrote financial success pamphlets (this book being his most famous one). This brings up a bit of healthy skepticism as to how much I can trust his advice. What I do know is that he was not one of the richest people during his time because business tycoons like Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller lived during those times, and I know how wealthy they were.
What I Did Like
That does not mean his principles are wrong though. Based on what I have seen a lot of other millionaires and billionaires say about wealth, most of his principles are right on-point.
The only other recommendation I have is that you should probably start to increase the amount you put away and invest from the 10% the book tells you to if you can. You can get there a lot faster by saving and investing more than 10% of your earnings. 10% is a good starting point though because psychologically, it can be too hard to stay consistent saving more.
Many of his points about setting up systems to earn more and improving your ability and knowledge are timeless pillars of wealth that most millionaires echo.
It’s day 1 of the “Less Things, More Happiness” challenge. The guidelines are outlined in my previous post.
I set a timer for 10 minutes and went out to enjoy nature. It was just me with my clothes and the air. It did not cost any money.
Literally, all I had on were basic clothes: a t-shirt, shorts, socks, underwear, and shoes. I noticed I had brand name clothing on, like most people.
Remember, this is not about capitalism being bad or being a hippy. Nike (and many businesses) are there for a reason. They provided better stuff that is more affordable, more convenient, or higher quality.
Now, you can argue until the end of time on if they are truly doing this or ripping you off. Some companies can start doing this and arguably Nike’s shoe prices are getting a bit inflated for the extra value they truly provide. But overall, I still think they have done a great service. Read the founder’s book Shoe Dog for a better picture.
And if you are interested in better understanding why capitalism and business isn’t all evil, there are two easy-to-read books I recommend: #GirlBoss and The Education of a Millionaire. Both are written by people who used to be anti-capitalist hippies until they stumbled into businesses that changed their eyes and made them rich.
The point is that I am not a minimalist hippie nor do I think you should become one. I have adopted some minimalist-type traits because I see the value in them. There is a lot of happiness and efficiency you can achieve by simplifying.
Now, on with the story.
I walked around the block, feeling the toes in my feet and the well-knit fabric of my shoes. I appreciated, marveled, and reminded myself that I could be happy right now right here, with just me and my clothes. I did not need to spend $100 or $1,000,000 to have a blissful time.
And anyone is capable of this. Air is free to us all. And everyone has clothes, even homeless people.
But I realized that I was not truly minimalist. There were a bunch of possessions in my home that tie me to the location.
Matthew Santoro’s teeth video explains this well. He is a famous YouTuber and he released a video showing how he brushed his teeth.He literally had a bottle of listerine, floss, an expensive electric toothbrush, a gizmo that he lights up his teeth with to make them brighter, and white strips.
This is the stuff that can chain someone to a location. I do not have as many stuff as Matthew or any of those super-Americanized girls with suitcases of stuff…
But I do have enough possessions that when I think about traveling the world one day, I wonder, “How am I going to take my electric shaver, toe nail clipper, toothpaste, toothbrush, and heater with me?”
The truth is that you can buy what you need on your journey.
But the immediate excuse I had (that maybe you have too) is: “I don’t want to waste my stuff or pollute the environment by throwing away something that can still be used just to travel to a new place to buy it again.”
Some of us can’t afford to do that.
I thought about it and I came to a (temporary) conclusion. We can buy what we want as long as we are still free enough from our possessions to do what we want.
A recent interview I saw by the billionaire John Paul DeJoria said it best. You own your possessions if you can give it away whenever you want. Otherwise, your possessions own you.
This is profound and really important because a lot of rich people have their possessions own them. Warren Buffett has said in many interviews that he knows a ton of rich people who are owned by their possessions. And that’s one of the reasons he live in his modest, tiny house.
Some people don’t care about traveling and want to stay in one location for the reason of their lives. For these people, their freedom can be limited and they won’t care.
But others want to travel the world but they are stopped from doing so because they can’t leave their stuff (their dog, their cat, their hair curlers, etc.). If they do travel, it is limited to a 1 or 2 week visit of an over-saturated tourist spot before they have to return.
Money can help. (Like I said, I’m not a minimalist when it comes to money) You can pay for a babysitter. You can buy a new hair dryer.
But money alone cannot grow your inner independence.
I am grateful to have four working limbs (my knees started hurting when I said this – I have knee pains. But I am still grateful).
I am grateful for my educational opportunities.
I am grateful for a lack of illness and pain.
These may seem generic or dry if you don’t think about them in the right way. I have read a lot of stories of people with horrible lives. I have met people without limbs, health, lack of illness, or educational opportunities. I have experienced horrendous pain before. I kept these experiences in my mind to remind myself of the weight of the awesome stuff we take for granted.
I try to read about a lot of cool stories of successful people overcoming incredibly horrible odds and bad childhood conditions to inspire me and keep me grateful. But I still think I am just a bit above average in my experiences of people with tough times.
The sun in the sky making all sorts of cool reflections on the trees.
The awesome weird shapes and sizes of the trees.
The clouds in a light-blue sky.
But not everything on my walk was awesome. This won’t be a typical “mindful love and purity” woo-woo story. I want to be honest.
I ran into at least twenty mosquitoes and flies. The place was infested with them.
I started itching everywhere. They bit me everywhere. There flew around everywhere that I could see them one by one.
But here’s the lesson:
I was reminded that not all possessions are bad. We evolved as a community to create objects to solve our problems. It’s just that business, marketing, capitalism, and modern society can sometimes make us over-consume and get wrapped up in having too much.
For example, at that moment, I realized mosquito spray and shelter was good. I was itching so badly that I wanted to sprint inside.
As the timer was about to ring, I savored the different size of trees I could see one last time. I savored the incredible setting sun that rippled different shades of orange across a canopy of treetops.
All of a sudden, I remembered that the area I was in used to be a brand new area open to the public 10 years ago. I used to come here as a kid and there was a sense of newness, open fields, and excitement.
Now, a ton of houses had been built here and the trees had grown much bigger, crowding out there area. I marveled at how this area was now considered “old and worn out” in my eyes. But then…
I reminded myself that it was always old. The earth and older trees had been here for hundreds of years, the rocks for thousands. It was just my perspective.
I finished by thinking of what I had overheard before I started this walk. I overheard someone watching a ton of YouTube videos. She had a short attention span so she went to a new video every 20 seconds.
Why did I bring this up and why is it useful to you? You’ll see soon enough…
Here is some of what I overheard:
A gossip YouTube channel talking about how Justin Bieber deleted his Instagram after some more drama with Selena Gomez. She tweeted some vague but pointed comments about him, then went on Snapchat to apologize for how selfish that impulse tweet was.
A YouTube vlogger just bought a big house at the age of 18 and was vlogging the whole thing. She said it was an investment.
I realized I was reacting to what was happening. I was disappointed at the arrogance of Selena because I thought she was more mature than that, I thinking about how the vlogger made a bad financial choice but will learn from it (even though I don’t know much about real estate), and I was getting jealous of this vlogger’s house.
The point is that this stuff sucks you into small-minded thinking and makes you less happy. So avoid it. It also reminded me that I need to work a lot more on thinking so much and reacting, which meditation to solve.
Social media is not all good. There are things that I like about it (how it teaches people things they don’t know and how it inspires people).
But there is bad too. Even if social media gurus like Gary Vaynerchuk won’t admit it. (He may be too caught up running a business to really see the ins and outs of it.)
Social media causes a lot of toxic, unhealthy social comparison.
It has caused unhealthy thinking that has caused suicide and murder.
It can encourage gossip, negative thinking, and bad influences.
It can force you to live up unto unhealthy beauty standards.
I recently saw Gary have two girls on his show who were social media stars of a new social platform called Musically, where you lip sync to songs. They had several million followers.
What Gary doesn’t know is that these girls (and the other 11 year old’s on there) sing a lot of inappropriate songs for their age on there, like:
Drunk texting a one night stand.
Cursing up a storm and bragging about sex.
You don’t have to look far to find these. And you can tell by their faces that they think it’s so cool. I don’t think it’s a good lesson to be teaching but hey, tell it to the musicians singing these songs.
My only problem is this is that science has shown that social comparison (comparing your accomplishments to others) is the worst thing you can do to your happiness because it prolongs and worsens sadness. And social media feeds are one of the worst inventions for that since a lot of your friends (a.k.a. people you know who aren’t really your friends) love to show off their better lives on there.
I’ve seen a lot of people fall for this comparison trap. I have caught them talking and dwelling about how one guy bought a car or something else that they can’t afford themselves (even if that guy went into debt to buy that car).
This Is What I Have Committed To Do To Solve This
I do not know if I can help someone else. But I can help myself.
This is what I will do to improve my experience of life:
Use free site blockers to stay away from social media feeds, especially Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook. I doubt anyone else will tell you this because they want you to watch their content.
Do more of these “Happiness walks” (maybe indoors next time) where you remind yourself you can be happy with just the basic clothes on your back and the air that you breathe.
Hopefully, you can use the takeaways I have discovered to better your own success in your life.
Also, remember these things:
You don’t have to cut out all your possessions. Some of them are there to help you.
Money and wealth are not bad. They can make your life much easier. But money alone will not help you become free from your possessions or reach your highest levels of happiness.
Thanks so much for reading this whole thing. I am sorry if I rambled and went off topic. I would have focused on just gratitude and savoring for this walk but I let it flow because my thoughts related to the topic at hand. And it seemed to have lead to some interesting ideas.
Perhaps this will also show that you are not the only person struggling with meditation. All of our minds naturally wander along.
For Day Two of this challenge, I want to spend less time thinking about random stuff and more time practicing happiness exercises.
Quiet the constant urge to create more, produce more, and do more when you don’t have to (I don’t have as much a problem with this, but I realize a lot of successful people do).
Do less and be content.
Here are a few questions that will most likely be asked about this challenge:
Why 7 days and not 30?
I think challenges are gimmicky. Having said that, I can see the fun in doing them and the value they provide. People love challenges because they follow along and it helps them relate so I’ll do one.
As for 7 days, it is because all stats show that few people finish a 30 day challenge (the most common length). See the graph below:
Even though I have talked about how to keep consistent , most people haven’t read that and still don’t. So I want to make this easy for everyone.
Plus, I want to make this a “minimum viable product.” I believe in Tim Ferriss’s model of starting with something simple, non-overwhelming, and fun.
A “30 day of Happiness” challenge would be too long. And it would stop being fun.
How long will each session take per day?
My goal is 10 minutes or less. The reason is what I mentioned earlier about Tim Ferriss’s model.
I have other related techniques for it like “Baby Steps” or “The Nibble Technique.” The basic idea is I want to start off simple and non-overwhelming.
Stay tuned and get excited for Day 1…
Stay tuned for Day 1 of the challenge. Each day, I will do some practices, show my experiences, and explain why I did them. Prepare to start feeling happier and better without the need for more possessions or activity.