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I happen to be “well-off”. Retired in 1990 with a lot of bucks. I can do what I want, when I want, and buy what I want. I know a LOT of people much richer than me. Here’s what we found: It’s true, money does not make you happy. It gives you pleasure, but pleasure disappears after a time and you have to recharge it. A new car is pleasure. A hot woman is pleasure. A luxury trip around the world is pleasure. Buying six or seven custom-made 3-piece suits is pleasure.

But none of that is being happy. Look at any of the popular magazine covers and they are filled with rich unhappy people. I remember taking a motorhome to Cabo San Luca in 1992 with my kids. This was a top-of-the-line motorhome and we had reservations at a 3-star condo in Cabo. My home life was the pits. My wife didn’t like me and I didn’t like her. She had different friends than me. I was being screwed in some corporations I still owned pieces of and was going to court. I drove past a little house along the road. The place had a dirt floor. There was a guy and his wife outside laughing and playing with their three kids.

They LOOKED happy. They had nothing, but they sure seemed happy. When people are truly happy, you can tell. They were truly happy. I finally knew the difference between pleasure and happiness. It took 15 more years to finally be happy. I drive a 2000 Toyota 4Runner. I can buy a new Ferrari for cash, but my 4Runner gets me where I want to go. I wear jeans and tee-shirts and a Timex watch. I tossed my smartphone five years ago. I read. I had three boats and sold them all. Now I fish from the beach. I’ve cut off all the crap that gave me temporary pleasure. Oh, and married an Asian woman 27 years younger than me 14 years ago and we are together 24/7.

Only six disagreements in 14 years. She understands happiness too. My kids keep trying to get her to have me buy new cars, a bigger house on the beach, new clothes, fancy food (my favorite is spaghetti), and all that, but she knows how I want to live. Happiness doesn’t come from “stuff”. It comes from being free. I think rich people discover that or they end up miserable. Poor people think having big bucks will make them happy. Not true.

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