Living a Rich Life

Man overlooking lake in mountains

Living a “Rich Life”
By David Strother, CFP®, AIF, AIFA

“Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” – Henry David Thoreau

Let’s face it. Money is like a sugar high. It makes you happy in the short term but will leave you unsatisfied without a greater purpose.

To most people, wealth is defined as the ability to purchase whatever they want, whenever they want and they think that with enough money, they can buy happiness. I believe true wealth is having the ability to fully experience life. Money is one of the tools that can help with the goal of having a joyful life. Nothing puts money in its appropriate place more than recognizing it is only a tool for a full life.

Wealth is having the freedom to give your time and treasure towards the people and things you love without being constrained by financial worries. Maybe you dream of changing jobs or going back to school for another degree. Or maybe your passion is donating to a non-profit near and dear to your heart. Or perhaps, it is taking your family on an unforgettable European vacation. One of my dreams has been to create financial opportunities for children and grandchildren. We see this as the proverbial planting of the acorn to produce shade for those we might actually never meet. We both work very hard to accomplish this dream. It is the dream that drives us, not the money.

Your investments and goals go hand in hand with living life fully, but our main goal in life shouldn’t be to “accrue wealth.” Instead, it should be to enjoy the journey and understand that money can provide people with more opportunities to experience all that life has to offer. Money is the tool, not the end goal. A joyful and richer life should be the end goal.

How Can You Start Living a Richer Life?
Regardless of your income level or total net worth, there are several ways to live a richer, fuller life.

Make the Time
Whether it is spending time with your grandkids, taking a walk in the park, learning to play an instrument, or reading a new book, set aside time to do what matters most to you. You won’t reach the end of your life wishing you would have spent more time at the office.

Be Present
Stop and smell the roses. Focus on memories and experiences. Invest in opportunities that will enrich your life. Travel to new and exciting places, try new foods, and be open to new experiences, and you will make memories that last a lifetime. We are always tempted to live for the future. The present is taken for granted, and the consequence is that we have lost this present time forever. Do not fall into this trap.

Be Generous with Your Resources
Volunteering your time, donating to charities, and helping those who need it most will give you a sense of purpose and increase your overall well-being. The old adage is “it is better to give than to receive,” which is proven by extensive research that shows the brain registers the act of giving as a pleasurable experience. When we do good for others, we almost always have a side effect of doing good for ourselves.

Thoreau is completely correct that wealth allows you to experience life more fully. But a “wealthy” life does not mean you have to have more zeros in your bank account. You can start experiencing a richer life with these few simple steps today. Let the money be an added bonus. I want to repeat a powerful takeaway… Money is only a tool and should never be the end goal.