On the first episode of When Would You Want to Know, I share the pivotal moment that lead me to question how I approached life and defined happiness.
The tipping point:
In early 2009, I had already achieved what most people would consider several lifetimes worth of wealth. I was lucky, I worked hard, and I got into the right sort of environment where I had quite a lot of success. I founded three companies, started building a home because the prices were right and I was listening to my financial advisor, who I thought I should trust. On the balance sheet, I had really good assets with little debt. But what I didn’t have was enough cash flow, because I was self-funding these startups and paying a construction loan. All of a sudden, I realized I had forgotten the number one thing I had advise every business client, cash is your blood flow. It’s the oxygen of a business.
I came to the realization that I was giving all this advice to other companies and getting paid a lot to do it, but I was not following my own advice. On a personal basis, I had let myself into a situation where I had a liquidity crisis.
The financial stress had overcome me and one day I saw a bridge overpass and thought, “I’ve got a lot of life insurance, my family would be so much better off if I just hit the pylon.” I pulled over to the side, cried, and realized that I had been so focused on building stuff, creating more wealth, and chasing after my dreams that I had not stopped to figure out what happiness really was – I realized I was quite unhappy.
I later learned, as I studied health, that the stress was having a chemical impact on who and what I was and it made me rethink everything. Happiness became this focus and I just went deep dive. Where does happiness come from? How can we get it?
Connecting with an outward mindset:
For a year, I rebuilt my thinking. Most were working on how to be successful in business and I was working on how to be successful in life. Up until my tipping point, I had only been living with an inward mindset: How does this impact me?
The unhappiest people I know are completely self-absorbed and malcontent about the things they don’t have.
I ask myself everyday, who am I going to be? I remind myself of this outward mindset through daily meditation about gratitude.
Searching for happiness:
One of the greatest gift on my journey, was meeting Digvijay Chauhan. We have the privilege of having him on our next episode to talk more about his story but I recently took a trip to his home town in India. It was so insightful. What I noticed is that they are falling for the same trick we fall for, the Madison Avenue disease.
People are moving away from their families and their family traditions. They are working long hours to get more money, to get a bigger house, to get a nicer car, and to go on a nicer vacation. We are getting onto the rat race of fear. Humans survived for millions of years through fear. It is a really powerful thing but when would want to know, your fear is being used against you to make you do things that really don’t make any sense? We are all looking for that sense of happiness and fulfillment but we are not necessarily chasing the right things to get there.
Connection is the key:
If you are in a hole, like I was, and you do not want to go deeper, stop digging. Get close to people, open yourself up, and make yourself vulnerable. When you start connecting to people, you will start to see the light. Because if you have an outward mindset and care about what people think, what they feel, what they want, what they fear, you start to get a deep insight into them and the chance to help them. What are we here for? To connect and seek more.
On the next #WWYWTK episode:
Digvijay Chauhan will share insights on things we thought to be true about charities, big givers, and foundation giving in Ep 02: When Would You Want to Know – The Joy of Giving.