Many people confuse wealth with money. To be wealthy to many people means to have more money than you need to accommodate your lifestyle. Often, people feel that financial wealth brings comfort, happiness and the ability to do what you really want.
Here’s the irony: Almost all of us sacrifice comfort and happiness to make money. The old story of the Mexican fisherman and the American tourist illustrates this irony.
An American tourist was at the pier of a coastal Mexican village when a small fishing boat with just one fisherman docked. In the little boat were several large yellow-fin tuna.
The tourist complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked him how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied, "Only a little while."
"Well, why didn't you stay out longer and catch some more fish?" asked the tourist.
"With this I have more than enough for my family," said the fisherman.
"But what on earth could you possibly do with the rest of your time?" asked the tourist.
"I sleep late, fish a little, have fun with my children and take a siesta with my wife," said the fisherman. "I stroll into the village each evening where have some beers and play guitar with my amigos. I have quite a full and busy life."
"You need help and I can help you," said the tourist. "You should spend more time fishing. With the money you make from fishing, buy a bigger boat, a better boat—maybe even a yacht. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy a boatload of boats.
"Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you would sell directly to the processor. You could eventually open your own cannery and control the product, the processing and the distribution.
"You could leave this boring coastal village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles and eventually New York, where you could run your ever-expanding fish enterprise."
"But, how long will this all take?" asked the fisherman.
"Fifteen to 20 years, maybe a few more," said the tourist.
"But what would I do then?" asked the fisherman.
"That's the best part," said the tourist. "When the time is right, you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions."
"Millions? Then what?"
"Then you could sleep late, fish a little, have fun with your children, take a siesta with your wife. You could stroll into the village each evening where you’d throw back some beers and play guitar with your amigos."
Remember how most people feel that having plenty of money equates to doing what you really want?
We put our lives on hold for 20 or even 30 years. Some do that for their entire lives. All of this effort goes into the quest to make enough money to give us the freedom to be comfortable and happy.
The true definition of wealth translates to a wealthy life. To be happy, secure, comfortable, safe and appreciative of one's own life experience.
I have had the good fortune of experiencing the lowest of financial lows, as well as boatloads of cash. And I wasn’t happier or more comfortable during any of those cycles.
Money didn’t bring happiness. My wealth and yours has always been the direct result of my happiness, my security, my comfort and, most importantly, my appreciation for my own life experience. When you experience a wealthy life and you have financial wealth, the combination gives you the freedom to do even more with your wealthy life.
You may think that the article title misled you—the article is not about how to get rich.
I felt the same way for years, until one day it finally clicked. A dollar richer, a dollar poorer, a million dollars richer and a million poorer does not make a wealthy life.
If you want a wealthy life, do everything to be truly yourself. Follow your calling. If you don’t know what your calling is, make it your calling to find your calling.
Do everything you can to find happiness for yourself (without hurting anyone else, of course). Be the Mexican fisherman. Living as he did will bring you unlimited wealth. And, in some strange way, people who live an unlimited wealthy life often seem to create enough financial wealth in their life, too.
Photo credit: Anna Cervova