Much of what you read in ETR is directed at helping you earn more money and achieve financial independence. But what many people mistake for wealth is pure junk: the oversized plasma TV, the 2010 Ferrari, the custom-built estate home.
In fact, a big part of living rich is getting rid of most of that stuff. The truly rich don’t clutter their lives with overpriced baubles. They prefer to lead their lives with fewer but more valuable things. They spend their days doing what pleases them and shunning what doesn’t.
That’s what we all want, isn’t it? Yet how few of us succeed! Still, it’s perfectly possible for people on an ordinary income to live as the really rich (balance-sheet rich rather than income-statement rich) do.
We’ve talked about many practical strategies to do that in past issues of Early to Rise. You can make a great start by following what I call the “simplicity imperative.”
By that I mean getting rid of the junk experiences and possessions that crowd your life and give you stress and replacing them with quality experiences and possessions that bring you enduring pleasure.
Let me give you a few examples:
- Trade in that oversized house you can’t afford. Move into something modest that you can gradually fix up and fill with furniture and art that mean something to you. Make it your own little paradise. Make it the kind of house that will make friends feel welcome and comfortable.
- Instead of buying the hottest, most expensive new car on the market, buy a slightly used high-quality car that you can enjoy driving for 10 years or more.
- Give away two-thirds of your clothes and wear only those that make you feel great. You know which ones they are already. Do it and see how quickly you feel richer.
And that is just the beginning. You can apply this simplification strategy to your work, and even your relationships.
Simplifying your life is not an option if you want to live rich. It is an absolute necessity.
Having two beautifully tailored suits or dresses that fit you perfectly makes you feel infinitely classier than having two dozen that will look dated in a matter of months. Having one small home that is well maintained and contains a treasure trove of little artifacts that say something good about you – your character, your values, your interests – is a hundred times more impressive than living in a 10,000-square-foot McMansion that somebody else decorated for you.
And when it comes to how you spend your time, clearing out the junk activities will make you richer too. Turn off the TV, the computer, and the video games and you’ll turn on your spirit to a world full of gratifying experiences.
Less in your life will give you more. More productivity. More passion. More meaning, love, friendship, serenity, etc.
This isn’t a new idea – but though most of us acknowledge that it’s true, we need to be reminded of it from time to time. I’ve been recently reminded of it by a wonderful new book written by Alex Green.
In The Secret of Shelter Island, Alex explains how you can employ the simplicity imperative to start living a truly rich life.
“I’m not a moon-eyed idealist who believes that money does not matter,” Alex says. “It does. But an individual who is driven by his lust for ‘more’ is hardly different than the donkey who is propelled onward by a carrot dangling at the end of a stick.”
Drawing on some of today’s best minds and many of history’s greatest thinkers, The Secret of Shelter Island is both a much-needed source of inspiration and an illuminating look at the pursuit of the good life.
The book is organized around four central themes that you, as an ETR reader, are familiar with.
In Part I, “A Rich Mind,” Alex takes a look at the main “disease” affecting Americans – affluenza. He explores the importance of money in your life – including what it gives you and what it costs you. He discusses the difference between getting rich and being rich. And he addresses the true meaning of success.
In Part II, “What Matters Most,” he explains how to calculate your real net worth – without using a financial statement. He helps you recognize the most valuable thing you own. And he reveals how to live a better, more relaxed life.
In Part III, “Attitudes and Gratitude,” Alex offers powerful insights based on a deceptively simple philosophy of life. He delves into the importance of gratitude, the destructiveness of greed and envy, and the transformative power of adversity.
In the final section of the book – “The Search for Meaning” – he delivers a refreshing take on the universal principles that guide us all – or should.
The Secret of Shelter Island is full of practical wisdom and thought-provoking commentary on what it means to be truly wealthy.
In difficult financial times, we are prompted to reexamine what really matters in our lives – a process that can open up amazing opportunities. The Secret of Shelter Islandprovides fresh perspectives, compelling ideas, and a profound understanding of how to lead a richer life. And the writing is shockingly good.Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]