In a previous column, we discussed setting unlimited goals and following specific exercises to achieve them. One challenge you may not have considered is how you will handle life if you should end up getting all the things you have dreamed about for so long.
Have you ever read about a famous movie star committing suicide or a super-successful physician being hooked on drugs, and said to yourself, “What a waste!” Have you wondered why someone who had it all let it go up in smoke?
Getting everything you want presents a real danger. In our daydreams, when we are sailing on that yacht or driving that fancy car, we feel fantastic and are having the time of our lives. When we daydream and see ourselves experiencing something we really want, we always associate that with feeling good.
There is an old saying that “Money won’t buy you happiness.” I personally know that this is true. One of the most miserable periods of my life came when I was at the end of my building process and had everything. This was the most volatile situation I have ever experienced because life had suddenly lost a lot of its meaning.
If you are thinking, “Yeah, I know, but just a few million and I’ll show you how to do it,” let us try a little experiment. Suppose you are married and you and your spouse just won a one-month all-expense-paid trip to Europe with $25,000 a day spending allowance, tax-free. You and your spouse arrive in Europe with $750,000 to spend. However, something happens at the airport and you get into the worst fight of your lives. You both say horrendous things, and by the time you reach the hotel, you will not say another word to each other.
By nightfall you still haven’t spoken and all night in bed you are extra careful not to accidentally touch one another for fear the other might mistake this for trying to concede guilt and as an effort to make up. The next day, all you hear is this screaming little voice in your head telling you how your spouse has ruined the most important vacation of your life. This gets worse each day for the remaining 29 days of the trip.
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How much fun would this vacation be? It would probably be the most miserable experience of your life!
What about all the money? Money will not buy happiness if you are not already happy. If you are unhappy and fantasizing about how happy you would be if only you had this or that, stop that now! It just does not work that way.
I have seen several people I know, including my wife and myself, who suddenly found themselves without monetary boundaries. They made a fortune very quickly and could buy anything they ever wanted.
As much of a dream as this sounds; it can quickly turn into a full-fledged nightmare. As we discussed in a previous column, boundaries create security. You can push hard against the walls; which are strong and will not yield. This creates a kind of safe zone that says, “It’s all right to bounce around here.”
When the walls do come tumbling down; at first it is sheer excitement. You can buy this and get that and get everything you ever wanted. However, pretty soon it becomes a test. How far can you go before you have to stop? What happens if you do not reach that point? You might decide to reverse directions and run another way trying to find the safety of a nice firm wall. But when there are truly no limits and you can have all the clothes, jewelry, cars, home and travel you want, then you begin to think, “What’s next?”
The most dangerous part is that when you were driving in your Rolls-Royce in your daydream, you were ecstatically happy. Now, when this is happening for real, after the initial excitement wears off, it is just a car. Your jewelry was supposed to make you sparkle like the diamonds, but you do not. Then a little voice inside you starts saying:
“You have everything you’ve ever dreamed of, and you are still not happy.”
“What is wrong with you?”
“You’re just never satisfied.”
“Boy, are you a mess; anybody would be thrilled to have everything you own.”
From this unhappiness, you can quickly grow little seeds of discontent and disgust into a huge negative field full of poison in which to live.
No doubt, some of the success suicides and drug addictions we hear about are an outgrowth of this exact problem. In your dreams, all you needed was money to buy your happiness; but then it did not.
If you are not happy with yourself, more money will only make it worse. Do not forget that being a success with your family, friends, charities, church and community is what life is really all about.