One of the most pivotal moments of my life occurred from reading a Tweet.
I was routinely scrolling Twitter one day when someone that I follow Retweeted a post from Naval Ravikant (@naval). It read, “How to Get Rich (without getting lucky)”. I was intrigued. I followed the thread, only to realize it was actually a series of about 30 Tweets, and not about money but about a broader definition of wealth. I thought that Naval’s concept of wealth was incredibly simple and I was curious about what he had to say about happiness. My revelation in two words: HOLY SHIT.
If you don’t know who Naval Ravikant is, please look him up. His Tweetstorm on “How to Get Rich (without getting lucky)” has amassed over 58,000 Retweets and more than 186,000 likes. He has 1.5 million followers on Twitter, yet he follows zero. His Tweet was the hook that sent me down a path of what I will refer to as my “Enlightenment Period”.
I began to consume any and all Naval content I could find. The Almanack of Naval Ravikant, written by Eric Jorgenson, is a collection of Naval's wisdom and experience from the last ten years. It starts by discussing the three major things we pursue in life: weath, health, and happiness. He explains that though we pursue them in that order, their importance is actually in reverse.
I thought to myself, “Here we go again, another rich guy telling me that money won’t make me happy…...yada, yada, yada.” We all know the saying, “Money doesn’t buy happiness”. Says who? Rich people? Listen – just because your miserable rich ass isn’t happy doesn't mean that my rich ass wouldn’t be. AMIRITE?!?
Naval understood that this is how many people respond to advice from the wealthy, and he takes a very different approach. We constantly convince ourselves that at some point in the future we will be “happier” because we will finally have the house of our dreams, or the career we want, or [insert any desire here]. Naval calls this “The Fundamental Delusion” — that there is something out there that will make us happy and fulfilled forever. There’s always something. A perpetual desire. Naval describes desire as “a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.”
I was spending so much time imagining how great my future “happiness” would be that I completely forgot about the present. As Naval eplains, “There is actually nothing but this moment. No one has ever gone back in time, and no one has ever been able to successfully predict the future in any way that matters. Literally, the only thing that exists is this exact point where you are in space at the exact time you happen to be here.” I realized that carefully selecting my desires would transform the way I prioritize my values in life, and subsequently, my happiness.
My Enlightenment Period
I began to embrace the concepts of health, happiness, and wealth as my own “Pillars of Success”. Emphasis on the and; by this I mean it’s not an either/or, but a constant state of prioritizing all three in a way that is mindful and manageable. For me, health became the most important, followed by happiness, and then wealth (who am I?).
I started to put more energy into my physical and mental health than I had ever consciously done before. Through meditation, I learned to become more aware of all the thoughts that run through my mind. The ability to process, categorize, and debug my thoughts is like a super power. Reading has also transformed the way I spend my time. I fucking love books. So much so that I once traveled with an entire suitcase full of them (then I bought a Kindle).
The idea of “happiness” was no longer an endpoint, or desire achieved, or goal met. Happiness became a state of being. Happiness, I’ve realized, is how I spend my time – either learning, earning, or relaxing. In fact, the idea of “happiness” has been such a transformational concept for me that it deserves it’s own blog post (stay tuned).
For most of my life, “wealth” was equatable to how much someone had in their bank account. Like Scrooge McDuck diving into a pile of money, I have always strived for that monetary measurement of success. And while there will always be a dollar sign attached to financial wealth, I now see it as the ability to earn passively. Take away the constructs of “business hours” – can you still make money? Jeff Bezos seemed to think so.
“Peace is happiness at rest; happiness is peace in motion.”
- Naval Ravikant
Many people spend their whole lives in pursuit of wealth and status. By the time they find it, they have lost their health and their time. I’ve decided to choose happiness. I’ve decided to have peace from mind, not just peace of mind. Like a busy day at work that seems to fly by, a busy mind accelerates the passage of subjective time. When asked: “What’s the biggest mistake we make in life?” The Buddha replied, “The biggest mistake is you think you have time.”
Naval hooked me with thoughts of getting rich and changed my life with his view on happiness.
I challenge you to ask yourself, what makes you happy? How do you balance and prioritize your values? Are your pursuits of desires working for you or are they getting in the way of what you really want in life?
Getting better isn’t optional.