Are You Rich? We Are, and It’s Great
That’s right, we have it all — everything we could ever want.
Nope, we’re not rich in money, we’re rich in love. Did you just throw up in your mouth a little bit? Before you stop reading because that sounds so ridiculously corny, let me explain.
This all sprung from a conversation I was having with a few of our neighbors this weekend at a BBQ. As we were outside watching the eight kids playing in a huge water slide, one of us remarked on how fortunate we were.
We have a great neighborhood filled with some awesome neighbors who we are lucky to call friends. If we’re in a bind and don’t have anyone to get our son on the bus, there’s usually a line of people willing to help out. If we are going away for a few days, somebody is there to collect the mail for us. It’s just that type of neighborhood.
Even better, all of our kids are under the age of 8 and all SEVENTEEN of them seem to play well together all of the time. Go for a walk around the block and we are bound to see at least one other family. Before we know it, the kids are in someone’s backyard on the swings or riding bikes along the street.
“At Least We’re Rich in Love”
At the BBQ, we all talked about how none of us had the biggest house or the best car. We probably can’t take that trip to Bali or purchase a boat. But even without these “things”, we really couldn’t ask for more. We are all living in a great community, and make enough money to live comfortably.
It was at this point that one of the dads came up with the comment, “my wife always says, ‘At least we’re rich in love.'” The comment stuck with me over the weekend. The more I thought about it and talked about it, the more I realized that’s everything in life. That’s what it’s all about. Who cares if you’re rich with money? Are you rich in love?
Another one of the fathers at the BBQ is an accountant. His company works with some very affluent individuals and companies. He explained that a few of his clients live here in Massachusetts and have kids, but travel to other parts of the country each week for work. The money is great, and they surely have the big house and the boat, but being away from their family for five out of seven days each week seems like a lot to give up. Everyone is different, but I would have a hard time feeling like I was rich in love if I were that dedicated to becoming rich in money.
What Does Rich in Love Mean?
Rich in love can mean different things to different people, but I define it as being surrounded by family and friends that make you happy and doing things that you enjoy and give your life meaning. Rich in love could include but isn’t limited to: a spouse, children, family members, friends, faith, activities, adventures, a career, community service, and pets.
For me, I’m so fortunate to have Ashley. She’s a best friend and an amazing mother. She’s caring, compassionate, funny and kind. The list really does go on and on. I have two fun, healthy kids that make me laugh every day and continually impress me with their kindness at such a young age. (There are some significant exceptions to that last statement – there have been some pretty epic wrestling matches already between the two of them!). We have our neighborhood gang as well as a great group of friends outside our neighborhood. Both of our incredible families have done so much for us over the years, and we love spending time with them. We have jobs we enjoy, we have enough money to buy what we need and live comfortably, we get to travel a pretty good amount each year. We are, in fact, rich in love.
Money, however, is important of course. It’s easy to talk about being rich in love and being so happy with our lives because we do have enough money to do so. As educators, we don’t make tons of money, but we do bring home modest paychecks and our job security is much better than most. We are fairly frugal and stick to a conscious approach to budgeting our money. As a result, we certainly have enough.
Not everyone is in the same boat. For many people, money is much tighter and that makes things much more difficult.
So can money buy happiness? Yes and no. A 2010 study by Princeton researchers found that people who made under $75,000/year did become happier when they earned more money. Money did, in fact, buy happiness in many of those cases. However, those over the $75,000 threshold found no significant uptick in joy as they made additional money. Money can buy happiness, but only to a point.
In a separate conversation at a different BBQ party this weekend (gotta love Memorial Day Weekend), I was talking to the dad of one of my best friends. He was asking if I was still coaching any high school sports. I told him I wasn’t, mostly because I wanted to be spending more time with my own kids. I told him the extra money was nice, but it wasn’t worth it to be away every day after school and for half the day on Saturdays.
He told me that throughout his career, there were multiple opportunities to change companies when he was younger. Had he switched jobs or been willing to travel more, he may have made a lot more money throughout his career. He left money on the table, and while that meant living with less and more years working for him, it also meant that he got to spend lots of time with his three kids as they grew up. He was able to help out coaching soccer and he made it to all of their baseball games.
To me, this is what it’s all about.
He was, and is, rich in love.
Focusing on What’s Important
The weekend conversations reminded me of what’s important in my life:
I need to take in these moments when my kids are young and to soak in this time in their lives because it does go by so quickly.
I should appreciate how fortunate we are to have time in our schedules to spend with family and friends.
I’m reminded that money is important, and earning it is one of my priorities, but it’s not my top priority.
Instead of becoming rich in money, I will focus on what is most important: Being rich in love.