As most of you know, in this quest for happiness, I have decided to start my own business. Since I have never owned a business before, I’m realizing a few things during this process:
1. I am going through a steep learning curve and it is much slower than I anticipated.
2. My business degree didn’t teach me anything useful.
3. Without sales, your business fails. Period. No exception.
Considering I have very little experience with selling, I thought this might be my Achilles heel. So I decided to start reading. And I read. And read. And read. Okay, I didn’t really read that much but I listened to many hours on audible and that totally counts. Now, to be perfectly honest with you, I’m getting sick of listening to all of these sales strategies. Selling products. Selling your company. Selling yourself. Negotiating. Closing the sale. Blah blah blah. What I didn’t realize was that, in one of these very books, I was going to find the most simplified answer to wealth and happiness that I had ever heard. It certainly wasn’t in the most predictable place, but I think it’s worth discussing here.
Now this may not be revolutionary, but it certainly made me stop and think. It’s a concept by MJ DeMarco called the 3F’s to wealth and they go something like this: Family, Fitness, & Freedom.
That’s it. That’s the secret to wealth and happiness according to MJ. While this may be overly simplified, I really think he’s on to something. I have read dozens of psychology books, skimmed hundreds of articles, and worked with thousands of patients and I couldn’t help but think, “Could it really be that simple?”
We all want success in family. What does that mean? It means strong interpersonal relationships. It means true friendships, love, family bonds, and being able to spend time with the people that matter to us most. Relationships give us connection and meaning to the world around us. Don’t underestimate them. They’re important.
This symbolizes health. Let’s say today you are diagnosed with terminal cancer. I imagine it’s not going to be the happiest moment of your life. Now, I know what you are thinking “So and so had cancer and they are happy.” Sure, I know cancer survivors that are happy too. Hell, they are happier than most of us because they have fought a battle and have come out on the other end: alive. They live life to the fullest and they see the reality of what is important in their lives because they know what it’s like to fight death.
But dying or chronically ill people have a really hard time with happiness, especially in the moment (hence why a life changing diagnosis usually comes with a prompt prescription for an anti-depressant). Having your health taken away from you is a big factor in many people’s unhappiness. In fact, in my current practice, this is the main reason why I see older people become depressed: they loose their health. With a new diagnoses, the loss of independent functioning or an increase in pain levels can suck their mental health right down the drain. What’s the 2nd most common reason my elderly patients get depressed? They loose their loved ones (from distance, death, or strained relationships). This further justifies why MJ’s concepts of “Fitness” and “Family” are included in the foundation of happiness. We should value our health and make it a priority. So the next time you are tempted to skip a workout remember this: being our best physically can also help us be our best mentally. Plus you produce endorphins (aka “a morphine-like substance originating from the body”). So yea. There’s that.
This is a big one. Freedom is being able to do what we want, when we want. It means we aren’t slaves to jobs we hate, we can afford that $6 latte we love, we can travel to the places we want to go. It means we get to choose how we work and when we work. We get to choose how we live and where we live. Sometimes, when we make more money it means that we have to sacrifice this freedom. That $25,000 raise comes with extra responsibilities. Long hours at the office. Or maybe a long commute home. We might loose time to workout, prepare healthy meals or spend time with our loved ones. Our health and our relationships might suffer.
On the flip side, sometimes more money can offer us the flexibility and freedom to do the things we love. Taking an exotic vacation. Investing in a hobby. Or giving back to our local community. For me, having the financial freedom to finally be able to afford to keep my 2 horses in my backyard is priceless. I find immense joy from this. If we have a job we love with the flexibility we crave, we can increase our income and our freedom. And remember, more freedom = more happiness. So it really depends on how you get the money and the sacrifices you have to make to get it.
Sometimes income is not the problem. Over-consumerism is the problem. We buy big houses we can’t afford so we are indentured to a job we hate. Then we buy new cars so we can “keep up with the Joneses” when we are secretly swimming in debt. We are living in a modern day slavery and we are an epidemic of undisciplined spenders and consumers. Most of us are 1 crisis away from bankruptcy. 1 cancer diagnoses away from being broke. It’s true, money has the power to increase personal freedom, but only if consumerism and our obligations to “stuff” don’t condemn us first. Yet, somehow we find ourselves working more, just to buy more, and then we don’t even have time to enjoy the stuff we just bought. It’s crazy. Sometimes we have to stop and think about the things that matter to us most and ask ourselves, “Do I have the freedom to live the life I desire?” And if the answer is no, figure out what you have to do to get there.
You might be asking, “Okay, I get it. But where do I start?”
I would start with this: Value your family and friends, prioritize your health and stop buying bullshit you don’t need.
It might not be everything. And it might be overly simplified. But it’s a damn good start.