Wealth vs happiness

A message from our CEO & Founder, Joseph Chou

This month, as many of you probably know, we have begun a new lunar year: the ‘Year of the Pig,’ according to the Chinese Zodiac. In China, the pig is a symbol of wealth and abundance. At Chinese New Year, we give out red packets filled with ‘lucky money’ as gifts and would wish others “Gong xi fa cai” – literally, a wish for wealth and prosperity for the year ahead.

In Chinese tradition, as you can see, we do not shy away from the idea of ‘wealth’ – in fact, we proactively wish it for our friends, family and colleagues as part of living a happy and successful life.

There are a lot of Australians, in our experience, who also would wish for more wealth in life, but simply don’t know how to make it happen or don’t believe they can – because they’ve been told for so long that it’s impossible or have never learned how.

It strikes me that in Australia, wealth is considered a taboo topic. We don’t talk about money, we don’t teach wealth at school, and we certainly don’t wish others good wealth or fortune at Christmas or on birthdays!

But I believe that everyone deserves more wealth. I also believe that most people, in their heart of hearts, would probably want a bit more wealth too – even if they may not voice it out loud.

Imagine if you’d been taught at a young age or at school how to save, use credit cards properly, look into your super, invest in income-producing assets – how different life might be today?

Wealth vs materialism

Historically, wealth has had a negative connotation; centuries ago, most wealthy people made their money through feudalism, war and violence. While in today’s society, we see materialism and excess flaunted in all aspects of the media and celebrity culture.

While there may be a section of wealthy people who fit this stereotype, it’s certainly not a wholistic picture.

what is important money happiness

In his book, ‘The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy,’ author Thomas J Stanley interviewed a number of American millionaires. He ultimately drew the conclusion that 95% of millionaires in the US actually live a relatively simple and modest life.

In my own experience, I have noticed the same. The wealthy people amongst my acquaintance live relatively simply and are very humble and generous in nature. Those with kids tend to be even more disciplined with them, very careful not to spoil them and ensure they learn the importance of working hard towards their goals.

They also see their wealth as a responsibility to build opportunities for others – through business and through contributions to charities. This is certainly how I see it for myself as well.

The universal formula for happiness

Wealth doesn’t have to be a negative thing, or something to reject. In fact, wealth is an essential part of living a happy life.

We do many things to find happiness in life. Love is a major one; we will pursue happiness through love, only to find that love can fade, and love on its own doesn’t make us happy.

Good health and wellbeing are also important – exercise, eating well, taking care of yourself – all of this makes us feel good. But again, on its own, it’s not enough.

The last factor that tends to get overlooked is wealth. Like health or love, wealth on its own will not equate to happiness, but it can certainly contribute in a big way.

For example, if you hate your job, but you need your job to pay the bills, then you might bring that stress home, where it will start to affect your relationship or your mental health. If you had a bit more money it would make it easier to change jobs and find something else that you may find more fulfilling.

There are many everyday things can be solved by having a little bit more money – to take any financial pressure off your relationships, to help you access resources – good, nutritious food, or exercise facilities – to live a healthier life. Or the flexibility to have more time to spend doing what makes you happy and spend more time with your kids or loved ones.

The universal formula for happiness, therefore, is the combination of these three elements: health + love + wealth.

Thinking beyond ‘me’

While there’s no doubt that wealth can remove your own worries or struggles, and enable you to live your own dreams, it also has the potential to do something much greater.

The more wealth you have, the greater your ability to look at the bigger picture. Your family will likely be first in mind; I myself felt good to be able to look after my parents, and my siblings as well and my friends. But beyond your own circle, you also have the capability to help many, many more people.

I had a friend who had some acquaintances working very hard to raise funds to improve a community park and playground. They had been working at it for months, and my friend, once he found out about it was so glad to be able to just write a cheque and solve the problem.

wealth millionaire happiness ironfish

On the top end of that scale, you have something like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It holds $50 billion in assets and through investments in health, agriculture, education, and other sectors has helped innumerable people – including the most vulnerable people in the world. For example, since 1990, 122 million children’s lives have been saved – due mostly to getting more vaccines out to kids who need them but can’t afford them.

There’s no doubt that wealth can be a very important resource to bring about the positive change you want to see in the world.

Pay the price

With wealth also comes knowledge and experience – and that too, feels good to give away. This is one of our great passions at Ironfish; to remove the veil of secrecy that often shrouds wealthy people. We want to share our knowledge and experience of investing, so others can benefit too.

But whether you want to build more wealth is a personal decision; not everyone is going to want to and not everyone is going to succeed at it if they try. There is no certainty in life; it would be great if someone could just offer you a guarantee that if you did these 10 things – all of which are legal, ethical, doable, but hard work – then you will 100% become a millionaire. But it’s not going to happen that way. And without that certainty, it’s hard to push past your comfort zone to give it a try.

But if you decide that you do want it, then the next steps are relatively simple: find out what the price is i.e. find out what you need to do to achieve it, and then pay that price.

If that sounds like you, and 2019 is going to be the year you start focusing on your own wealth: know that we at Ironfish are here to help. To those who are already Ironfish investors, we thank you for choosing to build your dreams – and your wealth – with us.

And on behalf of Ironfish, we wish everyone wealth, good fortune and happiness in abundance in the Year of the Pig!

Ironfish property investment seminars, events & workshops

Ironfish CEO & Founder Joseph Chou regularly travels around Australia presenting at a range of events on the topics of entrepreneurship, mindset, success and investment. Many of these events are free to attend; take a look at our events page to see where he is speaking next. 


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