Some of the unhappiest people in the world are financially secure. So what’s missing in their lives? The answer may be as simple as the lack of loving human connections.
Whenever clients tell me they seek “happiness,” I ask them one question: Have you done the work? For most people, achieving true bliss requires a dynamic shift in perspective and self-awareness. Instead of thinking of contentment as a magical and deserving prize, look at it as compensation for a job well done. Consider all the work needed to get accepted into a school of choice, start that dream business or secure a desirable position at a top-notch firm. That level of diligence must be applied to each sphere of life to attain overall balance and fulfillment apart from professional accomplishments.
My client Gary Jenkins* learned this lesson after receiving a lump sum of cash from his parents, which led to his crisis moment. Already moneyed, Jenkins’ angst had nothing to do with finances. Instead, he felt he wasn’t reaching his career potential and that his social life was limited. Insecure and feeling disconnected from loved ones, Jenkins also worried that he wasn’t capable of maintaining a healthy romantic relationship. Most upsetting for him was his belief that his bank account should have determined his satisfaction, yet it failed to.
After some work, Jenkins was ready to switch up his investment strategy and lay the groundwork to reap returns in all aspects of his life: friends, family, romance and self-care. This new focus and balancing act manifested into a more fulfilling professional and personal life.
With a little concerted effort, you can bring about life-altering change like Jenkins did. We can all rethink our life investments and upgrade how we are living; looking to claim baller status requires thinking beyond finances. Here are four additional areas of life to sow wealth:
GIVE. True camaraderie develops from more than an occasional post on social media. You have to make time to stay connected in a tangible way, such as telephone calls, in-person visits and, most significantly, showing up during awkward or challenging moments. It also requires learning to understand what your pal needs from you most.
RECEIVE. Surround yourself with a strong, encouraging village, and your return on investment is endless. Great buddies will reciprocate the love they are given, provide resources—emotional, physical and financial—in times of boom and bust, create accountability and insulate you during periods of extreme vulnerability. Healthy peer groups are also excellent for motivation.
GIVE. Spend time nurturing small rituals (e.g., Saturday morning breakfasts or monthly movie nights) and big traditions (such as graduation trips or home-cooked birthday dinners). Building authentic connections are an essential component for creating bonds that can sustain familial highs and lows. Your words, presence and absence all communicate your values.
RECEIVE. Maintaining stable and healthy attachments to family members is the ultimate goal. Everything from trading recipes to retelling old stories will strengthen connections and bring joy, pride and a sense of fulfillment to the household. Bask in what your loved ones contribute to your life—and in return, make sure they know you can be depended on even if you are not physically present.
GIVE. The ultimate objective for most couples is to sustain their relationship, and the biggest sacrifice that has to be made by both parties is vulnerability. Being emotionally open to risk makes many people uneasy, but in the end, it’s the willingness to trust a partner—despite setbacks—that creates opportunity to build confidence and intimacy.
RECEIVE. An increased sense of security boosts the sentimental, spiritual, physical and financial intimacy between parties, which create a sturdy partnership.
GIVE. The key investment you can make in yourself is to create harmony between being selfish and selfless. Understanding that you must tend to your (physical, emotional, etc.) needs before you can be of true service to loved ones is essential. It is also important to establish healthy boundaries and limits to what you are willing to share with others. Develop “me-time” rituals. Practice saying no. Explore your personal likes and dislikes.
RECEIVE. Honoring your needs allows you to achieve a healthier lifestyle full of experiences and quality relationships. Harnessing your inner caretaker or overachiever opens up a space for you to enjoy helping others without the brain-drain factor. Your legacy is based on your actions and how you make people feel, the most important person being yourself. Model true love with healthy self-love. The balance allows you to achieve this and be happy enough to enjoy it.
* Name has been changed
Instead of thinking of contentment as a magical and deserving prize, look at it as compensation for a job well done. The key investment for an individual is creating harmony between being selfish and selfless.