I used to have it all — cars, motorcycles, thousands of dollars in a night, always surrounded by girls, friends, parties, a nice house, awesome neighborhood, three stores and another company…and yet I wanted more, always more.
Nowadays I wonder, why did I want more? I worked my butt off to have all that by the age of 21. I worked so hard that I died from heart attack resulting from burnout syndrome.
Why did I feel like I needed so much more?
I have a simpler life now. Even with all those things I used to have, I never felt as happy and satisfied as I feel now when I when I walk in the park with my girlfriend and my dog.
Since my teenage years I was always driven by monetary interests. Being rich was always a must for me.
At the age of 14 I started working and saving every penny; I skipped lunches and school snacks just to save the money that my parents used to give me.
At 16 I used to buy supplements in bulk so I could re-sell at my gym and martial arts training center.
At 18 I was able to start my own company, and after 4 years of sacrificing many childhood things, I achieved my first dream. I opened an e-commerce, a store and an independent salesman based distribution center.
At 19 I had my own dream motorcycle.
At 20 I traveled overseas more times than I could count.
At 21 I had my dream car.
At 22 I had three stores, a sports consulting company and much more.
And at 23 I lost it all.
I didn’t just lose my financial assets; my father cut all support that I had and kicked me out of his place. I hadn’t talked to my mom since I was 19. I had a dog, a thousand dollars and nowhere to go.
Some friends helped me, but my dog is huge and it was hard to find someone who would be THAT nice, since I used to live in a city of 20 million and there are no such things as big yards.
People that I lent money to didn’t want to pay me back, even though they were aware of the gravity of the situation. I felt in my very bones that old saying that you only know your true friends when you’re going through hard times.
Have you ever tried to get a job with only self-employment on your resume? I didn’t even have college, since I was only halfway through my law and computer engineering degrees and couldn’t afford to continue paying for them.
I couldn’t find anything, and even when I could my bad luck was endless and nothing worked out. I couldn’t even come close to making enough to pay rent, bills, food, transportation and to feed my dog.
I went through starvation.
When you find yourself in a situation where the most basic needs are unreachable, everything takes on a whole new perspective.
By telling you all this I’m not trying to brag about how awful my life was, but to make you seize the loss I had, and therefore to feel what I’ve felt.
My father used to say two things that still haunt me somehow, and the first was, “You don’t know what hard times are really like.” Yes, different from me he had a poor upbringing, but he didn’t suffer what ended up happening to me, and he never went through starvation. He also used to say, “You can think about how fire feels like, but you will only know when you feel it in your skin.”
Honestly, I wish that people never went through what I had to, but somehow it’s a life-changing experience that will have only two outcomes: either you crack and end up losing it or you come out of it a completely stronger and better person, more invincible than ever.
I’ve experienced both; after a depression and six months stuck in a bed, my current girlfriend was there to help me out of that hell.
When you lose everything, even the will to live, opening the window and feeling the sun in your skin feels entirely new. You start to value things like they were sacred, because indeed they are.
You start to realize that life itself is sacred; it is miracle every second that we are alive.
You realize that happiness is a state of mind that can be reached by allowing yourself, no matter what troubles or hells you’ve been through, to start living positively.
It becomes hard to understand complaining, to hear people complain about the weather, about their job, about their life, about their friends, about their cars, about their clothes, about their body. You start to realize that the things we complain about are trivial in the grand scheme of things.
Once a Buddhist monk told me that gratefulness is only experienced when you really acknowledge that you have received something.
People are ignorant to the fact that every second of breathing is magical. I see people every single day complaining about stuff they have while the majority of the planet doesn’t, like love, kids, food, friends, shelter, peace.
When I hear “my love life is awful,” it hurts me to the bone; it is only awful because you experience it like that. Someone could look at the very same situation and say “wow, you’re so lucky!”
If you can’t stand your partner, remember that there is someone out there who would love to be with him/her. When you complain about your kids, remember that there are couples who can’t have kids.
Feeling fulfilled is by all means a perspective; you already have everything that you need to succeed in your next step.
A friend of mine said, “Life’s a bitch,” and I replied, “If Life gave you breath, gave you eyes, gave you family, and your car and a lot of other things, and you’re always complaining—even if those were bad gifts, which I don’t think so—why should Life keep giving gifts to an ungrateful person like you?”
Be grateful, to Life, to your friends, to yourself, and to your beliefs.
I’ve also discovered the power of belief. Whether you’re Christian or Atheist, it doesn’t matter as long as you believe in something. Believing is one of the most powerful things I’ve discovered; it gives you an invisible support to grasp on to when you have nothing. It gives you that inner strength when you think you’re depleted.
Humans are immensely strong and they don’t even know. Call it god, call it Buddha, call it Allah, call it hope; it’s all the same. Put your skepticism aside and experience the power of your belief.
Now every day I smile like never before, because when I wake up and I open my eyes and I see my girl here, by my side, safe, cozy, healthy and alive it feels like the ultimate fulfillment; when I go to the gym and I work out, I feel exhausted and content; when I go anywhere to do anything and I feel ok, alive, and I breathe really deeply and feel the sun in my skin, I am completely satisfied.
Yes money can buy happiness, but so can breathing, hugging, loving, walking, working, writing, and living.
Live like you would die tomorrow.
Live like you lost it all.
Live like you want to conquer everything life presents to you.
Live like you believe that you can do anything and you will.
I only achieved this state of constant fulfillment and joy after I lost everything, and I’ve heard once that “people make mistakes, smart people learn from mistakes, and genius people learn from others mistakes.”
So who do you want to be?