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Wealth Is the Ability to Fully Experience Life

by | Jul 19, 2021 | Money

Making money feels like a hamster wheel.

What’s the point of it all? I’ve been riffing on this idea for a while. These are the ideas that have shaped my thinking so far:

  • Wealth is quiet. Rich is loud. Poor is flashy.
  • Money buys back your time.
  • Having time makes you a billionaire.
  • Having multiple income streams reduces stress. Stress reduction improves your quality of life.
  • When you don’t need to work so hard for money, the meaning of your life quietly shifts. You become outwardly focused, not inwardly selfish.

Now, I’m no poet lover, but Henry Thoreau nailed it with this line: Wealth Is the ability to fully experience life.

The thing is, there’s more to money than you may realize.

The typical experience of life

You go to work. You earn money. Money pays bills and helps you buy stuff. Making money becomes an addiction. You put the experience of living your life off for a date in the future.

It’s so easy to mortgage our dreams to a bank in the hope four walls will enhance the experience of life. It doesn’t.

Once you’re stuck in the debt trap, the experience of life has to get dialed down. You’ve got to prioritize working hard for the man, keeping your boss happy so your debt payments don’t stop, or paying off the car that could have been forfeited for public transport or a bicycle.

Subscriptions then cause further lifestyle creep. Everything is a subscription now because no business wants to make money off you once.

Why charge a customer once when a business can charge a customer every month without them blinking an eye? None of this is a nightmare at first glance, of course. Netflix is fun. Power windows in the car sound cool when you’re cruising with friends. It’s what happens subtly without you realizing it.

You come home slightly later. You take less holidays to earn more money. It’s common to take second and third jobs to keep up with all the things money can buy. A side hustle, which I obviously love, has its downsides too. You can become so fixated on side hustle life that you once again trade time in pursuit of more money.

Who suffers? Parents who want to see their children. Friends who want to hang out. Colleagues from previous jobs. High school buddies who want to revisit history.

We don’t purposely blow people off for money. We do it without even realizing it. If we simply had time, we’d see all types of people more.

Money keeps us from those we care about. Over time this downgrades the experience of life. Life is best enjoyed with other people who also have an expiry date called death.

The experience of life turned up to its fullest

True wealth isn’t having millions of dollars. True wealth is having the time to fully experience life without money becoming scarce.

Experiencing life is traveling to foreign countries. It’s slowing your day down to ignore the little things because you do not have to run to a series of back-to-back meetings to impress those who wear penguin suits every day.

It’s ordering the gelato and enjoying every bite, rather than stuffing it into the hole referred to as a mouth as fast as you can, because you’ve got to get home to wake up and appear at an office circus the next morning.

It’s having time to learn. To study ancient history. To understand where you came from. To read lots of books or do online courses from great educators. It’s having the time to properly work on your physical wellbeing.

It’s also having time to think. I discovered ‘think walks.’ It’s where you walk to an unknown destination without a phone or headphone rubber ducks in your ears that won’t stop making noise.

What if having time to walk made you the real billionaire? Wouldn’t it be cool if instead of worshipping the latest piece of metal with four wheels, we high-fived someone truly living life and reading hundreds of books? Imagine swapping walking stats, or reading stats. All paid for by money that buys time instead of been sacrificed as a deposit towards debt.

Excess time makes life better

Running around being busy all day is exhausting. That’s what being dragged down by the burden of money causes us to do.

Busy is saying no like a jerk. Busy becomes endless excuses for being late. Busy is missing the important moments of your family’s life. For what? To earn money and stay stuck in busy quicksand?

If you want to fully experience life, live one day with an empty calendar. Nowhere to be. Just you and your thoughts. An empty calendar quickly becomes a portal to a different reality. You feel like you’re standing on top of the Matrix and getting a look at life from a heavenly place.

Time lets you create your version of art

Typical work focused around KPIs and money is like that art form known as ads. Nobody wants ads. Ads are low-quality art we look away from and fast-forward through when given the option.

Ads are such poor art we simply scroll past them on Instagram without even realizing it. A badly taken photo is real art. Real art takes time. You can’t slap art together properly in between emails and notifications from an app requiring you to fill up their Silicon Valley bank account with more money.

When you have time to make good art, it adds meaning to your life. You feel like you’ve built something that matters. There’s no critic or gatekeeper to give you unsolicited feedback. It’s possible to sit at home and simply admire your creation. There’s even an opportunity to dare to create for creation’s sake. Art that has no point is glorious. Art you make for yourself is glorious.

Art can be anything when you have the time to fully experience it. Art can be watching a dog wrestle a ball in the middle of a muddy patch of grass. Art can be noticing the breaks in traffic when the noise dies down for a few seconds. Art can be closing your eyes and noticing the magic of darkness while being fully in the moment without anywhere to be.

Art amplifies the experience of life, and money can buy time to create more art.

Buy back time to experience life by doing this

  • Lower expenses.
  • Stop buying dumb stuff.
  • Develop a distaste for luxury because you don’t need it.
  • Switch off all subscriptions to apps. See what happens. (We didn’t have software subscriptions in the 90s and humanity still lived happily.)
  • Use savings you have and money you will make to buy financial assets. Let those financial assets eventually make you money on their own.
  • Create assets that make money while you sleep like NFTs, courses, blog posts, videos, member-only communities, etc.

What if the we weren’t meant to wake up and make money every day on a hamster wheel? What if wealth isn’t owning a bunch of stuff you can flash in front of strangers and take photos of thanks to a phone addiction?

I wasted so many years not fully experiencing life. I feel like I have wasted so much time on dumb stuff I will never remember, such as watching Fast N Furious movies. Maybe you can relate.

Use money to buy time that allows you to fully experience life. It’s the best investment we can make.

Experiences are far better dreams to have than debt nightmares.

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