We say things like “money cannot buy happiness“, yet secretly wonder what it would be like to have it all. To live in luxury and rub shoulders with the rich and famous. Yet the flip side of having it all is the risk of losing it all. And that is harder to live with than you think.
“There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.” – Oscar Wilde
Losing it all
Here’s a list of five multi-millionaires who committed suicide because a financial crisis saw their fortunes evaporate.
- Owner of an Irish property empire worth about €500 million, who shot himself in the head.
- Head of one of the largest property auction houses in the US, who also shot himself this month.
- Businessman worth about £6 billion who jumped in front of a train.
- Chief of private equity house Olivant also jumped in front of a train near London.
- Investor who lost his and clients’ fortunes who slashed his wrists in New York two days before Christmas.
You may have reacted the same way I did: What? Even if they lost millions or billions, they have a few million left. Surely they could live on a million? Gosh, most of us get by on a lot less!
Wealth is just a number
I realised that rich people are like the rest of us. The numbers they work with are just bigger. No matter what your current standard of living, you would probably struggle if I asked you to downsize that. Could you move to a house four times smaller, accept a 75% pay cut, or give away half your bank balance?
There is nothing wrong with having it all, and certainly nothing wrong with wanting it all. As long as you are prepared to lose it all. Because if you are not, having it all makes us prisoners to all we have.
Having it all
When you realise how easy it is to lose it all, and accept that at the end of life we are going to lose it all anyway, then we can truly appreciate what we have now. Every person, every day, every breath, is a gift to each of us.
I still want it all, of course. And when I know that I can happily lose it all, that’s when I really have it all.