(Journey’s note: The content of this post is taken from Paul McKenna’s I Can Make You Rich. I post it here out of deep appreciation and gratitude. Hope you will enjoy and benefit from it too. Please feel free to share your ideas in the comment section!)
In a fascinating study done at the University of London, a team of researchers developed a happiness scale, designed to measure people’s relative sense of wellbeing from moment to moment.
They then devised a formula to calculate how much extra money the average person would have to earn every year to get the same level of happiness as they would from the simple pleasures of a rich life.
For instance, having an active social life brought the equivalent satisfaction of a £63,844 annual salary increase, while living with a loved one was found to bring the same amount of satisfaction as being given an £82,500 annual pay rise. Good health was found to be the most valuable aspect of wellbeing – having a ‘clean bill of health’ was equated to a £304,OOO annual pay rise!
Yet, for all this, money still can’t buy happiness. As a society we are better paid, fed, educated and housed than ever before in history, yet since the 1950s we have become less and less happy. Statistics show there has never been so much depression in the world as there is right now.
The reasons for this may surprise you…
Over the years I have worked with many people who have body dysmorphia, a condition where someone distorts their view of themselves to such a degree that they cannot bear to look in the mirror because they believe themselves to be hideously ugly.
This has nothing to do with how someone really looks – it is an internal filter that searches for everything that is wrong and blocks out everything that is right. So someone with this condition will focus upon some tiny aspect of their appearance that they don’t like – say a wrinkle or a fold of skin – to the exclusion of everything else.
What’s interesting is how many people do the same thing with money – they filter out all the areas of their life where they are already rich and focus on what’s missing from their lives instead.
An exercise I often do with my clients is to ask them to imagine that, for whatever reason, money is no longer an issue in their lives. Within the realms of physical reality, they are free to pursue whatever they want to be, do or have.
I then ask them to make two lists. The first list is of all the things they would change; the second is of everything they can think of that would stay the same.
What is remarkable is how little most people would actually change their lives if they had more money.
Sure, they might switch jobs, take more holidays, get a nicer car or move to a larger house – but they wouldn’t dump their friends, stop visiting their favorite restaurants, watch different movies or laugh at different things. Here’s the payoff:
Everything you wouldn’t change if you had more money is an area of your life where you are already living rich!
True and lasting happiness never is and never will be the result of how much money you have in the bank – it’s the product of living a life rich in value, meaning and purpose.
That’s why being happy and living rich are experiences you can begin to cultivate now, regardless of how much or how little money you are already making.
The more you focus on those areas where you are already rich, the more you will realize how wealthy you already are.
I began this book by suggesting that you are already rich in ways that you do not realize. Now, I will go a step further:
There are many ways in which you are already as rich as the wealthiest billionaire on the planet.
- Any time you have a good night’s sleep, you are ‘sleeping rich’. A billionaire may be able to buy a more expensive mattress, but they can’t buy themselves a more restful night.
- Any time you go into a restaurant and can order anything on the menu, you are having the exact same experience of possibility and abundance as the wealthiest man or woman alive.
- Any time you walk down a beach or look up at a sunset, you are experiencing the same beauty and splendor as the most financially well-off person in the world.
In their book The Maui Millionaire, authors Diane Kennedy and David Finkel make this point in a very direct and somewhat shocking way:
Some people think that everything has its price. Well, if that’s true, how much would it take for you to sell your ability to see? Would you accept a million dollars in return for your ability to see? How about ten million dollars? What about your ability to move? How much would you sell your ability to walk for? How about your ability to move your arms? Would you trade them for any amount of money? What about your past? What would you sell all your memories for? Would you trade all your memories, good and bad, leaving you bereft of any past, for a million dollars?
What about the love of your friends and family? What would your price be to trade for these precious relationships? Just take a moment to reflect on the people, things, abilities, and experiences you are most grateful for in your life.
Now, how wealthy are you really? On a scale from one to ten, how wealthy are you when you stop and look at the full picture of your life?
While this can be an uncomfortable exercise for some people, the point is clear – what we take for granted in our lives is invariably priceless. In this sense, the reason so many people feel poor is because they are already so rich. They have stopped paying attention to all the good that is a constant in their lives, and are only noticing the situations where unexpected problems break through into their consciousness.
So why don’t we usually appreciate what we already have? Surprisingly, the problem isn’t with our values, or even with our society – it’s with the hard-wiring of our brains.
The process of habituation
Our brains are designed to ‘habituate’ repeated experience. What that means is that once any behavior or experience has been repeated a certain number of times, our conscious mind will stop paying attention to it. This is an efficient system in some respects, because it allows the limited attention of the conscious mind to be available for spotting difference, which is a harbinger of danger. Where it works against us is that when much of our daily life is made up of the same types of stimuli, our lives can appear mundane no matter how wonderful they actually are.
The good news is that this ‘trick of the mind’ is not one we are stuck with. In contrast, everything we have done in this book so far has been designed to reset your patterns of habituation so you can live a richer and richer life.
In one study of habituation, three Zen masters were placed in a room with their eyes closed and a clicking sound was made 20 times in a row at precise 15 second intervals.
When this study had been attempted with ‘ordinary’ people, the monitoring of their brainwave patterns revealed that by the fifth click, habituation had set in and the control subjects no longer noticed the clicking noise.
In sharp contrast, the Zen masters responded to each repeated stimulus as fully as they had to the first. It was as if their openness to the experience of each moment resulted in their perceiving the world anew in each moment.
That openness to the moment is one that can be cultivated, simply by taking time each day to rejuvenate our senses to the fullness and possibility of the ‘now’. We can reset the equilibrium and begin once again to notice the richness of our lives.
Here’s an exercise that will help you to interrupt your patterns by changing the habitual questions you ask yourself. Be sure to take the time not only to ask these questions, but also to answer them.
1. Who or what in my life makes me feel happiest?
2. Who or what in my life brings me the greatest pleasure?
3. Who or what in my life makes me feel most loved?
4. What is it in my life that brings me the greatest feeling of satisfaction?
5. What is it in my life that makes it feel meaningful?
6. Who or what am I most grateful for in my life?
7. Who or what in my life makes me feel richest?
If you ask and answer these questions at least three times a day for the next three weeks, you will be amazed at the transformation you will experience in your life!
The Pareto Principle
The 19th-century economist Wilfred Pareto was the first to discover that approximately 80% of the world’s wealth was concentrated in the hands of only 20% of the world’s population. While this was startling in and of itself, what was even more remarkable to him was that this ’80/20′ rule seemed to hold true in nearly every area of our lives.
Although the numbers are rarely this exact, here are some of the ways statisticians have recorded the impact of the Pareto Principle in our society today:
- 80% of the loss value of all crimes comes from 20% of the criminals.
- 80% of all car accidents are caused by 20% of the drivers.
- 80% of divorces involve only 20% of married people (many people divorce multiple times.)
In the 1960s, IBM ‘re-discovered’ the Pareto Principle when they realized that 80% of their computers’ operating time was spent executing 20% of their programming.
By focusing their efforts exclusively on that 20%, they were able to create massive upgrades in the effectiveness and usability of their computers in a remarkably short period of time. Today, many of the world’s leading corporations are using this principle to increase efficiency, maximize profits and produce more with less. Check to see how many of these 80/20 patterns are present in your own life:
– 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.
– 80% of your job satisfaction comes from 20% of your work.
– 80% of the wear on your carpets takes place on 20% of the area.
– 80% of the time you wear 20% of your clothes.
– 80% of your rich feelings come from 20% of your experiences.
What is so amazing about this principle is that once you begin noticing it, you will see it everywhere. And once you begin acting on it, you will be able to sort for where the moneymaking and happiness opportunities are in your life with an almost scientific precision.
In my own life, this simple idea has had a most profound impact. I first used it to analyse my business and discovered that approximately 80% of my profits came from 20% of my projects. Over the next six months, I redoubled my efforts on that all-important 20% and increased my profits by nearly 2,000% over the course of that year.
Next, I looked at those areas of the business I particularly enjoyed and those I didn’t. Sure enough, about 80% of my stress was coming from 20% of my customers.
I began phasing out my work with those customers immediately. Once again, the return in energy and happiness was dramatic.
Finally, I began to apply the Pareto Principle in my personal life. By continually focusing on the 20% of activities and friends that brought me 80% of my pleasure, satisfaction and meaning, I was able to experience far more happiness in far less time than ever before.
While the numbers will not always work out in these exact proportions, the thing to realize is that not all opportunities are equally valuable and not all activities are equally worthwhile.
By removing high-effort and low-reward activities and people from your life and focusing your energy instead on those things that require less effort but bring in a far greater reward, you can continually refocus your priorities with a laser-like intensity.
You will find yourself moving forward with less effort and more income, less busy work and more time, and perhaps best of all less stress and more freedom than ever before.
For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? And whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. –Steve Jobs
DOING MORE WITH LESS
1. Do an ’80/20 audit’ on each of the most important areas of your life. Ask yourself these questions now:
- What are the 20% of your customers and work efforts that are leading to 80% of your profits?
- What are the 20% of your customers and work efforts that give you 80% of your problems?
- What are the 20% of activities and areas of your life in which you experience 80% of your happiness?
2. Based on what you’ve learned, what should you be doing less of? What would be worth doing more of?
3. What are the one, two or three activities you engage in which create results out of all proportion to the amount of time and energy you invest in them?
4. If you only had one month to live, how would you spend your time? How many of those activities can you bring into your life this week?
5. Ask yourself Steve Jobs’s question:
If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?
The more you can answer ‘yes’ to this question, the richer your life will become!
As you complete this exercise and begin to experience its implications in your own life, you will realize that doing more with less is one of the absolute keys to living rich, as it gives you the luxury of more energy and the luxury of more time to apply that energy to doing those things that truly bring you joy. And figuring out how to spend your money and how to spend your time can be one of the most rewarding activities of all.
The joy of living rich
Having worked as a therapist for over twenty years, I am continually struck by the general lack of joy in people’s lives. Some people experience hardly any good feelings during the course of a day. Because that’s what they are used to, they think it’s natural. What I point out to them is that a lack of joy in life isn’t natural- human beings are designed for happiness. Because feeling rich, joyful and happy are neurophysiological states, they operate according to our basic principle from chapter one:
What you focus on, you get more of.
Your mind learns through the process of generalization. As a child, you learned how a door opens; you then generalized that information and instantly understood how most doors open. If it wasn’t for your ability to generalize, you would spend time each day relearning how to go in and out of a room.
Happiness works the same way. Like any other emotional state, the more you think about abundance, wellbeing and joy, the more you get to feel them. Better still, you can amplify each one of these feelings and make them much more intense than you usually experience them.
In our final exercise together, we’re going to increase your daily levels of joy. We’re going to transform the ‘background stress’ so many people live with day after day into ‘background happiness’. You will automatically experience more and more states of rich, joyful happiness more of the time and throughout the day.
As we crank up your ‘happiness thermostat’, you will still be able to feel a full dynamic range of emotions, but the base line, the default settings of your happiness, will be much higher. You will have this overwhelming feeling that everything is really working out for the best – you are already rich in so many ways.
You can then use the hypnosis CD to ‘lock in’ these changes for good. In order to get maximum value from this exercise, you may want to first review the list of your highest values you created in Chapter 6.
CREATING A RICH FUTURE
Read through this exercise in its entirety before you begin.
1. Squeeze your thumb and middle finger together on each hand and fire off your rich anchor. When you have at least a taste of your richest feelings, let the anchor go for now.
2. One by one, go through each of your highest values. Vividly imagine experiencing each one. If it’s ‘love’, remember times you have felt deeply loving and truly loved. If it’s ‘freedom’, remember or imagine experiences of being incredibly alive and free.
3. As you imagine experiencing each value in turn, add them in to your rich anchor. Squeeze your thumb and finger together on both hands and reinforce the link between the good feelings of your values and the squeeze of your thumb and fingers.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you are almost overwhelmed by good feelings. Allow yourself to feel even more wonderful than you are used to doing.
5. Now, as you continue to hold your rich anchor, imagine taking these good feelings into all of the major areas of your life – home, family, career, community and the world at large. Imagine feeling this good even in difficult situations, and how much better things will turn out when you go into them feeling this way.
6. Imagine what it would be like to wake up each day, feeling this good. What would it be like tomorrow? Next week? Next month? Next year? Five years from now? Ten years from now?
7. Look at your timeline and make sure it’s filled with pictures of you looking healthy, happy and truly rich now and on into the future. Make sure that you are always in the pictures, looking good and feeling great
8. Finally, float into the most appealing pictures on your timeline and vividly imagine what it will be like to live your values while adding value to the world, doing good and feeling amazing!
Each time you do this exercise, you are not only flooding your body with good feelings, you are increasing your capacity for joy. And when you think joyfully about your future, you are programming your mind for a lifetime of happiness and riches beyond measure.
Frequently asked questions about ‘The Secrets of Living Rich’:
Q. I’m terrified that if I really allow myself to feel rich before I have a lot of money, I’ll wind up not doing what it takes to actually make the money. What do you suggest?
Before you do anything else, review the material in Chapter 5 and tap away the fear. Nothing clouds our ability to think clearly and make good decisions like fear, anger or greed.
Then, when you’re feeling better in yourself, review your rich vision. If you’ve created goals for yourself that really inspire you, they’ll pull you forward and keep you in action without the constant threat of fear of poverty nipping at your heels. If not, go back and create goals that will!
Q. I’ve realized that 80% of my stress in life comes from 1% of the people – my partner! Do I need to leave them in order to live rich?
There are very few people I know who would say their life has been enriched by divorce or the break-up of a long-term romantic relationship. In fact, most of the rich thinkers I studied for this book have been with the same partner for most of their adult lives. Obviously, if you are in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship, it is important to seek outside help. But before you go running off into the sunset with someone else, take the time to explore these other 80/20 questions:
- What are the 20% of the issues that cause 80% of our arguments? How could we most easily resolve them?
- What are the 20% of the shared activities that lead to 80% of our positive experiences? How can we make the time to do even more of them?
- As you explore your relationship in this way, you may find that you are able to transform even the most difficult of relationships and reconnect with the love that originally brought you together.
Q. Why is it always the people with money who say ‘the best things in life are free’?
It’s because the people who already have money know that money really can’t buy happiness, whereas people who don’t yet have much money still believe that it can. Part of my purpose in writing this book is to give you a chance to find that out for yourself. In the end, I will be delighted if you write to tell me how much money you have made as a result of using this system, but I will be even more delighted when you share how much richer your life has become!
A FINAL NOTE FROM PAUL
A few years ago, the renowned scientist and researcher Rupert Sheldrake came to my house to conduct a series of experiments into the power of human thoughts to influence the thoughts and feelings of others. Sceptical as I was when we began, the results of the experiments were so conclusively positive that I had to begin opening my mind to new possibilities.
I then came across some research into the effects of focused intention on an even more dramatic scale. In 1993, a group of 4,000 experienced meditators came together in Washington DC for a period of three weeks. All 4,000 people spent an hour twice a day focused on sending peaceful thoughts out into the city. The results, while controversial, were astounding. The rate of violent crime in the city fell by over 20%.
It seems that our collective thoughts really do have an impact upon our physical reality. As Gandhi said, ‘You must be the change you want to see in the world.’
May your search for the riches within you make the world around you a richer place!
God bless you
(The end of this book. Thank you Paul! You help make this world a richer place!)
P.S. The text has been edited slightly from the original book. This website is NOT associated to Paul McKenna at the time of posting. If you like what you see here, and wish to support his marvelous work, please purchase I Can Make You Rich at Amazon. Thank you.
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