Wall Street WARZONE

Zen-Millionaire’s 14 Secrets to Happiness, Health & Wealth! Yes, You Can Still Get Rich in Spirit & in Fact!

by Paul B Farrell, JD, PhD
| | 6/6/2010

Every now and then a reader sends an email with a headline that catches me by surprise, like this one: “Time for some Enlightenment.” Ted was a nudger: “Some time ago you wrote a piece on ‘peace of mind’ and being happy. The point being that happiness is a state of mind, not a state of material wants and possessions.” Then his magic words: “It might be time to remind your readers of that.” I sat sipping from a coffee mug emblazoned with “Happy Everything” and decorated with kids in bright costumes celebrating Valentine’s Day, Easter and the 4th of July, Halloween and Christmas. All those happy kids were smiling at me … so upbeat, so positive, so optimistic. With every sip out of that cup, Ted’s suggestion “felt” more “right.” The spirit of the moment resulted in the “Zen-Millionaire’s 14 Secrets of Happiness.” And a few weeks later, the same energy sparked a column that accurately called ”A Bottom & New Bull Market,” which was at the leading edge of a 50% upturn in the market through the rest of 2009. 

So let’s take a few moments, read the “14 Secrets” below, then finish this simple sentence: “I’m the happiest (and richest) investor because …” Impossible? Can’t each one of us all be “the richest,” as well as “the happiest.” This is your life. And yes, each of us in our own unique way can be “the happiest and also the richest” … in your special way, in your world, all by yourself. You decide. Just do it.

Okay, now think about what really, really makes you happy and write: “Yes, I really am the happiest (and richest) investor in the world because …” Here are a few reminders, my “Zen-Millionaire’s 14 Secrets to being Happy, Healthy and Rich.” Maybe they’ll jar your memory, maybe bring a smile, maybe help you see that at this one moment in time, in your own unique way, you really are the happiest, richest and luckiest investor living in the whole wide world:

1. Happiness is making others happy.
Like family: My wife loves Mary Engelbrecht’s calendars. We have several around the house. My perennial favorite’s a jolly, happy, bright-colored Santa strolling along with a huge bag of gifts and a cute dog. The caption from Oscar Wilde: “Some cause happiness wherever they go.” And there’s lots of pages from Mary’s smaller calendars tacked on our frig with magnets … they all “cause happiness” with a smile.

2. Happiness is doing what you love (even if you’re not doing it).
“Success is getting what you want,” says Uncle Warren, the Sage of Omaha. “Happiness is wanting what you get.” And to University of Nebraska students he admitted: “If there is any difference between you and me, it may simply be that I get up every day and have a chance to do what I love to do, every day … I get to do what I like to do every single day of the year,” says Buffett. “I tap dance to work, and when I get there, I think I’m supposed to lie on my back and paint the ceiling. It’s tremendous fun,” moreover he’d do it even if he had “$40 instead of his $40 billion.”

3. Happiness is some cheerios and a warm puppy.
For Peanuts’ creator Charles Schultz, it’s very simple: “Happiness is a warm puppy.” And pure joy in Anna Quindlen’s A Short Guide to A Happy Life: “Get a life in which you pay attention to the baby as she scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a Cherrio with her thumb and first finger. Turn off the cell phone. Turn off your regular phone, for that matter. Keep still. Be present. Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you.” God bless Snoopy and cheery Cheerios! 

4. Happiness is getting lost in whatever you’re doing.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi looks more like Mary’s jolly St Nick than a psych prof. In Seligman’s Authentic Happiness, Mihaly says: “Isn’t it funny?—I’ve been studying happiness for at least forty years, but I still don’t have a definition of it. The closest one would be that happiness is the state of mind in which one does not desire to be in any other state. Being deeply involved in the moment, we do not have the opportunity to think about anything but the task at hand—hence, by default, we are happy.” 

5. Happiness is getting into action and doing what’s right.
In The Secret Power Within: Zen Solutions to Real Problems, Chuck Norris says: “At heart, we all want the same thing, whether we call it ‘enlightenment,’ ‘happiness,’ or ‘love.’ Too many people spend their lives waiting for that something to arrive—and that’s not the Zen way.  Zen is always on the side of action, always on the side of doing what is necessary and right.” 

6. Happiness is also “doing nothing,” just whistling.
In The Art of Doing Nothing Veronique Vienne relates this little de-stressing trick: “You know how to whistle, don’t you?” said Bacall to Bogart. “Just purse your lips and blow.”  Vienne says if you “want to take some pressure off yourself or let the air out of a tense situation? Try whistling a few notes. …. You feel pretty sexy and carefree with your puckered lips, don’t you? Hold on to that feeling.”

7. Happiness is faking it so good you really are happy.
In The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Socrates tells his young disciple: “A fool is ‘happy’ when his cravings are satisfied. A warrior is happy without reason. That’s what makes happiness the ultimate discipline … This is the final task I will ever give you, and it goes on forever. Act happy, feel happy, be happy, without a reason in the world. Then you can love, and do what you will.”

8. Happiness is more a bunch of little moments than big deals.
I love Roger Rosenblatt’s The Rules of Aging: “Rule 40. A long, happy life lasts five minutes.” And forever! In poet Hugh Prather’s poetic Little Book of Letting Go a tennis pro talks about a frustrated 12-year-old: “Her problem is that she thinks she should be happy. She hasn’t yet learned that happiness is an occasional good meal and, if you’re lucky, a good TV program now and then.” Hugh concluded, that’s “an apt description of the surprisingly limited role happiness plays in most adult lives.” Five minutes is forever.

9. Happiness is knowing when “enough is enough.”
Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, peace activist and was a close friend of the popular Trappist monk Thomas Merton. In Stepping Into Freedom Thich says: “Your notions of happiness may be very dangerous. The Buddha says happiness can only be possible in the here and now, so go back and examine deeply your notions and ideas of happiness. You may recognize that the conditions of happiness that are already there in your life are enough. Then happiness will be instantly yours.”            

10. Happiness is not being attached to money and stuff.
Remember Henry Miller’s famous opening line in the Tropic of Cancer: “I have no money, no resources, no hopes, I am the happiest man alive.” Sounds similar to Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh vows: “The Tenth Precept: On Not Accumulating Money or Possessions for Personal Use. Aware that the happiness of a monk or nun is found in solidity and freedom, I vow not to allow money or possessions to become a preoccupation in my life.  … We are happy just by being aware of what is in front of us.” My mentor Joseph Campbell adds: “My life course is totally indifferent to money. As a result a lot of money has come in by doing what I feel I want to do from the inside.”

11. Happiness is spending less than you earn.
Americans know this truth, from Charles Dickens’ famous formula: “Annual income, 20 pounds; annual expenditure, 19 pounds; result happiness. Annual income, 20 pounds; annual expenditure, 21 pounds; result misery.” Money guru Andy Tobias included it in Parade’s “10 Smartest Things About Money.” Dan Millman echoes message in The Way of the Peaceful Warrior. “The secret of happiness,” says the ol’ garage mechanic, Socrates, “is not found in seeking more, but in the capacity to enjoy less.”

12. Happiness is doing what you really love.
“Why is it that only a minority of our population love their work? …. If you make one major decision correctly,” says Thomas Stanley in The Millionaire Mind, “if you are creative enough to select the ideal vocation, you can win, win big-time. The really brilliant multi-millionaires are those who selected a vocation they love.”

13. Happiness is being of service … to your world.
In The 7 Spiritual Laws of Success Chopra says: “Everyone has a purpose in life, a unique gift of special talent to give others … ask yourself, ‘How am I best suited to serve humanity?’ Answer that question and put it into practice.  Discover your divinity, find your unique talent, serve humanity with it, and you can generate all the wealth you want.”

14. Happiness is about being “rich in spirit.”
“Instead of focusing almost exclusively on our finances,” says Ralph Warner in Get A Life—You Don’t Need A Million To Retire Well, we “should be thinking about the things that truly make a difference in our later years; our health, spiritual life, relationships with family and friends, and having a plate full of interesting things to do.”

Now complete this sentence: “I am the happiest (and richest) investor because …” The prize? It comes from within, an investment that will continue growing, making you are richer in “spirit and in fact” as “you cause happiness wherever you go” today, and every day. When you’re, go share a hug, a laugh and a conversation with a loved one, family or dear friend.

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