Recently a tweet from entrepreneur Sahil Bloom caught my attention. He examines overall wealth and explains how the sole pursuit of financial wealth can rob you of the others. I agree with him and have been living my life in a way that emphasizes non-financial wealth. If you really knew me, you would know I have not received a W-2 or 1099 since 2009 and have supported myself by teaching yoga, facilitating workshops, managing investments, and living humbly.
Financial wealth is an alluring benchmark for success. Net Worth = Assets – Liabilities and offers a simple scoreboard for success. People assume financial wealth creates happiness – but a critical point known for decades is that while net worth and income are scientifically correlated with happiness—it is only up to a baseline level that’s most likely lower than you think. In the US, that number is approximately $75,000 per year, with many variables based on geography and other factors. Read more about the famous 2010 Princeton Study here. Once you are above this baseline, you get no more incremental happiness. Sahil posits: If your goal is happiness or a good life:
(1) Focus on getting above this baseline
(2) Focus on other drivers of happiness
To summarize, there are five types of wealth:
• Financial (money)
• Social (relationships)
• Physical (health)
• Mental (health, spirituality)
• Time (freedom)
Social Wealth consists of meaningful relationships. Sahil’s advice, which I like, is to build a T-shaped web of connectivity, which is both broad and deep. This means cultivating deep relationships but also embracing weaker and more broad ties. This has been my primary focus over the past few years – and I feel incredibly wealthy. I’ve tied this wealth to my career passions (facilitating groups), so it is constantly growing.
Physical Wealth is possibly the most critical but under-appreciated type of wealth as it’s essential to enjoy the other forms of wealth fully. Exercise, sleep, and nutrition are key. I feel this is an area I neglected the past couple of years since my cancer diagnosis. This month I signed up for Orangetheory Fitness, which offers one-hour high-intensity training classes, and it feels delicious to feel strong and fit again. When asked what my fitness goal was, I said, To feel and look good naked, a line borrowed from the classic movie American Beauty.
Mental Wealth includes mental health, wisdom, mindfulness, spirituality, and faith. This is a vast category, one I may have personally separated mental and spiritual into separate wealth categories, but let’s roll with it. Mental fitness is treating your brain like a muscle, flexing it through learning, reading, writing, conversing, etc. Best to do this daily! And the spiritual component can be met in several ways – through the formal or informal practice of deepening one’s relationship to ones one spirit and the world that lies beyond the physical. This, for me, was my primary pursuit for much of the past decade, and its pursuit and accumulation of wealth is one of the main reasons I was able to get through my cancer diagnosis so quickly and psychologically unscathed.
Time Wealth is interesting – when you’re young, you’re a time billionaire, and many of us forget to realize this precious asset until it’s too late. Sahil says to Treat time as your ultimate currency—it’s all you have, and you can never get it back. So NEVER let the pursuit of financial wealth rob you of your time wealth.
I’m curious what you, dear reader, make of these distinctions. I notice Sahil does not discuss sexuality, as is the usual mainstream trend. I’ve been pondering if I would make a separate category or acknowledge it as part of mental, physical, and social wealth. Thanks for reading!