When I was about 37, I had a plan. To be a millionaire! Not very original!
Our internet business was doing well enough that if I could continue to work many-many-hour days in front of the computer, and expand and grow and keep marketing etc then there was a chance that it could happen.
And what I’d learned already was that if I put a goal in front of myself, and worked and learned enough, then I could achieve it. The first goal had been to start an internet business so that my wife and I didn’t have to keep going to jobs we didn’t like, and that had worked out well. The next logical goal seemed to be to make as much money as possible – to become a millionaire by 40 would do!
But by about 38 and three quarters, I worked out that this goal was immensely unfulfilling. The word that best described it was ‘empty’. So, still far from getting anywhere near that target, though I still thought it was nearly attainable with an insane amount of work (I’d already done an insane amount of work over the last few years, so a bit more would have been OK), I decided to give up. Being a millionaire was not a satisfying life purpose.
Better, to explore being happy in simpler ways.
Recently the idea of ‘millionaire-dom’ has been on my mind again. Instead of making a million pounds or euros or whatever, what about making a million people happy? A different kind of millionaire! OK, so it’s still ‘goal based’ and I’m not convinced that’s always a good thing, but it’s a good goal, so I think it’s OK.
But how do I make a million people happy!? How do I quantify that?
I can’t, only a million people can make a million people happy! We are all responsible for our own happiness.
But what I can do is aspire to plant seeds of happiness. All of us can aspire to do that! Thinking about it, there are so many ways in which this can be done!
Here are some of the ways that occur to me to plant a million seeds of happiness:
1. Write, record and publish about things that in my direct experience have lead me to move from unhappiness to happiness. For me, hearing the direct, real experiences of others in this field has been extremely inspiring, and has planted positive seeds in me that have made my life happier. It’s worked for me.
2. Organise events that promote or provide happiness. Last year I helped organise some big mindfulness events in Spain, and a small Christmas fete at my son’s school. I like to think more about the small Christmas fete – I contributed to the fact that it happened, and 300 people came and had a great day and felt part of a community and almost certainly felt and feel happier as a result.
3. Not complaining to, but smiling at, and being friendly with, everyone I meet! Every smile and pleasant, positive interaction is planting a seed of happiness. (This is a tough one! It means saying ‘I’m fine’, which you probably are really, when someone asks you how you are, even if you feel like having a good moan! They don’t want to hear it!)
4. Being a good dad. Which hopefully will lead to a happy child. Who in turn will plant millions of seeds of happiness in his lifetime.
5. Sending some money to those who need it. This is quite indirect, but a tiny percentage of my income sent to people in extreme poverty, to help get them out of it, will doubtless lead them to be happier, and be able to pass that on.
There are myriad ways to plant seeds of happiness in the world, and it seems to me that being a ‘happiness-millionaire’ is a lot easier that being a money-millionaire! And a lot more interesting, worthwhile, purposeful and fun. And once you get started, and see how planting one seed of happiness can have an exponential ripple-effect and grow into multiple seeds of happiness in others, it would be quite easy to become a happiness-billionaire before long! What wonderful wealth that is!
Being a happiness-millionaire has only one rule: The first person to make happy is myself.
Happiness in me, happiness in the world. If I’m not happy, how can I plant real seeds of happiness in others? Impossible! So it’s vital, crucial, importantísimo, to look after my own happiness first. Get out, explore the world, go to that gallery, make that trip, eat that meal, learn that new thing, see that film… have a good time, do things that make me happy, exhilarated – live happily in the here and now – it has to be the basis of this plan. Make myself happy first, guiltlessly! I need to look after my own happiness before I can be a good dad, or husband, or a nice person to bump into in the street.
From there, planting a million seeds of happiness, being a happiness-millionaire (for want of a better term for it!) is a realistic objective for any of us.
If you’ve got more ideas about how to plant a million seeds of happiness, I’d love to hear them. If you want to join me and be a happiness-millionaire too, all the better!
Have a wonderful, happy, happy day.
9 thoughts on “Planting one million seeds of happiness”
Estoy de acuerdo.
I was so afraid, that you were going to tell us that you are giving up Notes in Spanish. I enjoy mine, Advanced with the help of the great woksheets every day!
Abrazos a ti y tu esposa! Felix Nuevo Año! Barbara
Don’t worry, Notes in Spanish will always be there! It makes lots of people happy! Abrazos for you too!
A lovely piece. Thankyou.
Great insight, Ben! I’m going to share this on facebook. C
Once again dear Ben, Thank you. Your seed has landed here on fertil ground.
Thanks for the great post, Ben! As someone who has received numerous seeds of happiness from you (I am a huge fan of Notes in Spanish, and I attended the TNH Vivir Despiertos retreat you helped coordinate in Escorial, and I follow your Being Happiness blog), I have to say that you are doing a great job sowing happiness around the world. Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart!
How wonderful it was to read such an inspirational story…of course it’s true..you have to be happy to spread happiness and that’s my wish for my future. I’ve recently started meditation and am fully committed forever..inner peace is joy and I wish joy for all
I’ve been thinking about happiness as well. I used to think that I could only be happy if I lived in Spain. I am from Los Angeles, CA, but in 1998 I got to spend two terrific years in Madrid as a student at the Complutense and as an English teacher. I was miserable when I returned to the states, and have been trying to have a happy life here. I have returned as a tourist to Spain several times, but it is not the same as having a home to return to at the end of the day. Your Spain podcasts with Marina definitely have helped me get through each day, and I actually get transported to Madrid sometimes! That is the power of audio. So, here is one of one million happy people you have reached. I am 37 years old now, and I think it is time to see that happiness is within, and know that Madrid will always be there for me to return to again one day.
It is great to hear this at the beginning of this new year. Wish you the best on your journey.
Thank you all for the new kind comments.
Jose, yes, Madrid will always be here waiting for you to visit or return to live one day!
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