Millionaires Who Don’t Feel Rich

What will you do with a million dollars?

Take a world trip? Buy you dream car, or a condo by the beach? Maybe donate for a good cause, or change the world? A million dollars can have a billion reasons.

Well, many years ago, during the dotcom wave, I was offered a “piece of paper” by my (then) employer with “Stock Options Grant” written over it in bold 16 points Verdana font. And while travelling on a bus from Palo Alto, I thought for the first time in my life that I’m going to be rich and happy! I was, juvenile, just like the first experience with champagne & caviar. Like any other human being, I had dreams, I had plans, and money seemed like an integral component to bind it all. Over the years, that “piece of paper” has become indispensable for me, because since then I’ve learned one thing about money – it doesn’t make you rich, and that learning itself changed the definition of the word “millionaire” for me.

Take for example a couple whose net worth of roughly $3.5 million places them in the top 2 percent of families in the United States. Yet each day Mr. Steger continues to toil in what a colleague calls “the Silicon Valley salt mines,” working as a marketing executive for a technology start-up company, still striving for his big strike. “I know people looking in from the outside will ask why someone like me keeps working so hard,” Mr. Steger says. “But a few million doesn’t go as far as it used to. Maybe in the ’70s, a few million bucks meant ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,’ or Richie Rich living in a big house with a butler. But not anymore.” One might ask then, are these people fools to work so hard even after all that stack of cash?

That’s a new breed of “working-class millionaires” who believe that you’re nobody here at $10 million. If you are nobody at $10 million, then what “amount” makes you a somebody? In my thinking, the “question to this answer” best lies in these opening lines from the film “The Pursuit of Happyness” (a must watch btw):

It was right then that I started thinking about Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence and the part about our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And I remember thinking how did he know to put the pursuit part in there? That maybe happiness is something that we can only pursue and maybe we can actually never have it. No matter what. How did he know that?

It's not 'H-A-P-P-I-N-E-S-S' ... Happyness is spelled with an 'Y' instead of a 'I'

Eventually, money cannot change a stubborn soul, because sooner than later we realize that not all mountains go way up high, some mountains go deep and low.

2 thoughts on “Millionaires Who Don’t Feel Rich”

  1. Hi Shantanu, thanks for your comment.

    I see your point. However, I also feel that somewhere deep down inside we all very well know what will make us happy, but we are just too scared to explore it. In a way, we are happy being partly unhappy hoping that we’ll be happy sometime.

    In a broader perspective, you can say that happiness is a subjective term, one that may vary from person to person. Although that would be true, but eventually we all experience the same feeling within us when we are happy.

  2. Great post, and thanks for the NYTImes link too. I think this is tied up to a greater truth, that no one really knows what will bring him/her happiness. BTW, have you read “Stumbling upon Happiness”?

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