Bill Cottringer

“If you can’t be happy poor you can’t be happy rich.” ~ The Author.

Are we all really capable of achieving great financial wealth like The Secret proponents and all the wealth books and wealth gurus profess? Are we all meant to have wealth? I appreciate Jack Canfield’s honest admission about battling his father over the evils of money because I know my mother did the same thing with me. My parental injunction was to serve people and just make enough money to pay the bills. Making a lot of money wasn’t part of the card hand I was dealt.

At this point in my life I am financially comfortable, but certainly not rich by any standards (although I have had and squandered more than my fair share). The only way rich would become part of my vocabulary is if one of my books became a best-seller or if I were to win the MegaLotto. I think it is great for people to set high financial earnings goals and achieve them, and in this country there certainly are great financial rewards for being clever, creative, determined, diligent and smart. If you want it bad enough your pot of gold is there for you.

However, something tells me I wouldn’t really be any happier than I am now being rich and I really don’t think that such a realization is a sour grapes type of rationalization. At times I don’t even think it is my destiny to have a lot of money. I do think that I would rather focus on using the few talents I have to become more successful in helping others understand how to better solve life’s problems to become happier and more at peace themselves. And, I think I would like to work on how we currently define “rich.” I don’t think we define it broadly enough. I truly think we can learn to be rich in happiness without money.

Having experienced both the ups and downs of the financial seesaw in my lifetime, I learned two valuable lessons: (1) you can't buy happiness and (2) you can't wish it into being from nothing. I wasn't any more successful in finding happiness whether I had and ocean view and flashy convertible or whether I was jobless and broke.

It took the loss of everything to make me realize that genuine happiness has to be discovered. You can't make that discovery until you take the time to find, enjoy and appreciate the simple things in life. These are inexpensive, often free things and activities that afford great pleasure and enjoyment, right under your nose.

I suppose I probably first started thinking about this notion after watching two daughters go through hundreds of dollars worth of Christmas and birthday toys and yet didn't see a real sense of enjoyment or genuine happiness. That made me think back to my childhood days and remember the hours of fun and pleasure I had being totally absorbed with the unlimited supply of free, imaginary "toys" in my backyard, basement, attic, neighbor’s trash cans, or the local dump. I had discovered lots of potential fun in those places and it didn't cost a cent. Oddly, those days made more sense.

During the last few years I have made a quest of locating, taking advantage of and cherishing moments of simple pleasure. These are activities and things that give me genuine enjoyment and a sense of real connection to life.

Several years ago, when I was thinking about this very same topic, I came up with my top ten ways to increase what I redefined as my real wealth. This list is worth resurrecting. If you are one of the folks who doesn’t necessarily buy into all the get rich hype, or don’t think it is in you or your main purpose in life, consider this list of things that can bring as much happiness as money. Here are my top ten real wealth secrets that don't require a bank loan or second mortgage to enjoy. Try some of these or discover your own list.

1. Go to Value Village, Good Will Industries or other similar dirt-cheap used clothing store. Buy some exceptionally comfortable, appealing "bumming clothes" that will wear you out before vice versa. Use these to change into when you get home from work every day.
2. Take a bike or car ride through the closest countryside and stop to appreciate the paradoxical beauty of dilapidated old barns or other aged buildings of character. If you don't have a camera, borrow one to capture the best moments and then hang the picture on your living room wall or put it on a note card to send a friend. If the owner is around, ask to take a lose board to make something with.
3. Watch a sunset from anywhere you can. I have never seen a bad sunset, unless the clouds or rain completely took over. Add a picnic basket, friend, blanket, CD player with your favorite music, and bottle of good wine (if you partake) and you have affordable ecstasy at its simplest.
4. Make sure you have the most comfortable sofa or chair that is available in which to flop, take a nap, read a great book or watch a classic TV movie. Enjoy this pleasure at least an hour every day. The bigger and softer the better.
5. Build a campfire in the woods and cook wieners and "smores." These taste every bit as good as surf and turf in an expensive posh restaurant in the big city. Then take advantage of the mesmerizing effect of a blazing fire.
6. Take a walk anywhere holding hands with your true love or child. It doesn't have to be at water's edge on a beach at sunset. It can be a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood or wandering through a shopping mall or quaint stores. Meander without a particular destination or time frame. Enjoy the closeness and scenery. Open up to the spontaneity of the situation.
7. Explore your natural creativity and tinker with an arts and crafts project. Make something like a rustic birdhouse out of old barn boards, driftwood, bark, rusted tin or the tons of free stuff hiding around the corner. Then give your finished product to a friend.
8. Engage in the art of people watching at a busy intersection, city park, local library, laundry-mat, bowling alley, or other public place. If you are adventuresome, strike up a conversation with an interesting-looking stranger. Share stories.
9. Find a private spot and listen to some of your favorite music. Close your eyes and daydream yourself into the fantasy place from which you imagine the music is coming. If you dare, engage in sensory satiation—gather all the things that titillate your senses of sight, hearing, smell, seeing and touching and then fantasize where you would most like to be doing all these things.
10. Take the time to write some thank-you notes to a few people who have influenced your life in small, but important ways. Do this on a note card with a picture you took on your countryside jaunt.

“If you want to feel rich, just count the things you have that money can't buy” ~Proverb.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is President of Puget Sound Security in Belleview, WA., along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence), The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree), and Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or