David “DHH” Heinemeier Hansson is a millionaire several times over. Does that kind of success not come with its own problems? Of course it does. The Stoics almost seem to talk more about the problems of luxury and abundance more than they talk about the hard times of poverty or exile. Which is why David says that the philosophy has been instrumental in coping with the success he’s been fortunate enough to have. His thoughts are worth considering this morning, whether you’re currently experiencing success, aspiring to it, or wrestling with financial difficulties (and thinking that solving them will magically make everything better):
The old adage of “I’ve never seen an unhappy person in a Lamborghini” is something plenty of people truly believe, but boy are they wrong. I’ve known miserable people with hundreds of millions to their net worth and carefree, happy people living paycheck to paycheck.
Now, don’t get me wrong: Wealth and success absolutely can help to raise your baseline. Not having to worry about money for groceries, health care, education, and other basics is a real benefit. But there’s a large underbelly of new and largely unexplored problems and challenges that come with that. Seneca and Aurelius were both fantastically wealthy and successful people, and they show that such trappings do not absolve the mind from the burden of learning to live a good life.I used negative visualization every week to imagine what life would look like if it all went POOF!, as it frequently does for wealthy people. I actively search to tie my happiness to something more durable than fame or accomplishments or material things. One of the worst things that can happen to people who seem to have it all is that they start fearing losing it all. I mentally embrace losing it all, such that if it does happen, I’ll be able to cope just fine.
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