Money buys happiness in the same way drugs bring pleasure: Incredible if done right, dangerous if used to mask a weakness, and disastrous when no amount is enough. We can mistakenly assume that wealth and happiness is derived from a prestigious career, a nice home, luxury automobiles, or exotic vacations.
While there is nothing wrong with any of those, research reveals that these symbols of wealth do not lead to lasting happiness. The following excerpt summarizes the highest forms of wealth and the greatest keys to happiness.
The 7 highest forms of wealth
- Controlling your time and the ability to wake up and say, “I can do whatever I want today.”
There’s a difference between working hard because you want to and working hard because someone else said you had to, and how to do it, and when to do it. Even if you’re doing the same work, the independence of doing it on your own terms changes everything in the same way that sleeping in a tent is fun when you’re camping but miserable when you’re homeless. Therefore, the highest form of wealth is controlling your time.
It is also called Time Capital. Wealth can lead to time independence, but it’s never assured. It can be the opposite, as whatever created the wealth – whether a company or an inheritance – creates a claim on your time in equal proportion to its financial reward.
A great number of CEOs fall into this category: They have an abundance of wealth and not a moment of free time or scheduling control even when it’s desired, which is its own form of poverty.
- When you are not constantly thinking of money
True wealth is not having to think about money. Some of the wealthiest people are also the ones who think about money all the time – which is obvious, because it’s causation. But it’s an important observation because most people, despite aspiring to become one of the wealthiest, actually want something different: the ability to not have to think about money.
It’s a different skill, but it’s powerful when you make it work. A person whose expectations relative to income are calibrated so they don’t even have to think about money has a higher form of wealth than someone with more money who’s constantly thinking about making the numbers work.
- Wisdom Capital
Wisdom can’t be bought, but it can be accumulated through the application of experience and knowledge. Going to school and reading a book will give us knowledge but not wisdom. Investing in wisdom capital is about using our knowledge and experience to achieve mastery, so we can create more value for others with more insight and excellence. Visiting a foreign country, learning a new skill and practicing the skill amongst professionals, or teaching something that you already know, all build wisdom.
- Nature Capital
From the Earth we come, and to the Earth we return, and in between, the Earth sustains us. It sustains us with water and food we consume, the air we breathe, and the environment around us Nature capital represents our water and our soil, the plants and animals, and ultimately the health of us and our planet. In a consumer-culture, many of our actions are about extraction (meaning we take a lot from the environment).
The opposite is regeneration (meaning we give back to the environment), and there are more people now starting to grow their own food and reduce their carbon footprint. One simple way to start investing in nature capital, is to choose foods that are healthy even though they may not be as tasty – we can’t do a lot in life, if we do not have our health!
5. Spiritual Capital
Spiritual capital means many different things to different people. For some, it comes from a practice of religion, and for others, it comes from a connection of self to a larger purpose – through being in nature, dance, or art!
Regardless of practice, spiritual capital guides our values, gives us passion, and cultivates a level of mental and emotional resilience and peace when times are tough. Investing in spiritual capital is about deepening our practice and being of service to others.
- Social Capital
All the happiness research has found that the number one key to happiness is the quality of our relationships. When we have social capital, we develop influence and connections among people that we can trust. Investing in social capital is not about having more friends on Facebook or followers on Snapchat or Instagram, but about building deep ties by being there for our friends and helping our community.
- A career that allows for intellectual honesty.
This includes: Being able to say, “I don’t know” when you don’t know. Being able to speak critical truths about your industry without fear of retribution. The ability to make reasonable mistakes, and be open about them, without excessive worry. And not pretending to look busy to justify your salary.
Public Relations takeaway
For most PR and business people, wealth is often defined by the number of clients they have or the elitist lifestyle they live or crave.
It’s probably time PR people start rethinking wealth too and take a fresh look at self esteem, knowledge power and philanthropy as more meaningful forms of wealth.