How to become the richest man on the planet

Topic: What wealth is actually for, how to avoid wasting wealth to acquire money

TIP: Sleep, exercise and eat well – and the rest will follow. Start working on any one of the three magic pillars of true wealth and the others will rise with it.

Conclusion: Strive for real wealth; don’t be fooled by the money illusion. Nobody actually wants money, fame and status. Those are at best tools, and at worst unintended side effects.

Reading time: 10 minutes (times the 4x obligatory re-reads)


Rich but not happy…, then what does ‘rich’ really mean?

The super wealthy have a problem.

They have no reason not to be happy, content, fulfilled satisfied… (I’ll use “happy” as shorthand for whatever state it is you are ultimately trying to attain). With extreme wealth comes the potential to buy, to give, to experience, to research, to explore, to learn, and not least to feel accomplished, happy… “rich”.

Anecdotally, however, despite all the resources in the world, it seems many of the money-fat fail at being 100 per cent fulfilled.

In contrast, there are a lot of people that struggle to put food on the table, but nevertheless are happy, thankful and, somewhat paradoxically, feel richer than many millionaires.

Yours truly actually seem to be one of very few wealthy people that feel truly happy, not to mention rich. I’ve come across several articles and surveys, where objectively wealthy people still put “being rich” at somewhere between 2-5 times their current net worth. I’m the anomaly here, in considering the “rich” bar being set somewhere below half my current level. So, I don’t have the most money in the world, but I am definitely rich (point being: after having enough to live comfortably, the rest is all in your head).

For all I know, I may well be the richest (read: happiest and most rich-aware*) wealthy person on the planet.

* I think I am, but feel free to challenge me. Nothing would make me happier than to learn about somebody with an even better experience and appreciation for their station in life


The richness formula explained

So, how did I get here? Is it my humble beginnings, genetics, physical and mental health, friends, or what? Most important, is it replicable? Could you feel rich? Yes, “feel”, since being rich apparently isn’t strongly dependent on your financial resources (again, after a point where you can eat, sleep and live safely and comfortably enough).

The following eight or so magic pills, that all fit in nicely with each other in a joyful and synergistic bundle, taken together is all you need to become very, very rich. How rich? As rich as you have the capacity to experience.


My 8 magic happiness pills that could (should) work for you too

I use my body, I work out; I push myself to the limit when lifting weights four times a week. I started out doing it chiefly to stay physically capable, but every year there’s more research showing how essential exercise is for a fully functional brain as well. In addition, my regular “wins”, in terms of personal bests or just pushing through some plateau, fill my life with small spikes of justified joy. TIP: exercise

I’m healthy. I had a sore throat back in 2006 and then again in 2017, but apart from that, at worst I become tired after a late night out a few times a year. Nota bene, health is tightly connected to the other magic pills of exercise, nutrition, environmental factors, and not least mental and psychological health. And vice versa, every pill is synergistically connected to the other pills. I strive to constantly level up on any one of those parameters, knowing that increasing one will lift the others as well. TIP: stay healthy (take care of your sleep, eat real food at least 80% of the time, avoid toxins, stretch those psoases). Side tip: eat fatty fish or drink natural fish oil, but try to avoid most other supplements, in particular in actual pill or capsule form (natural berry powder is a whole different story, though)

I’m outside a lot. I see sunlight a lot. Having a dog helps, since it means there are no excuses not to be outside, seeing nature, feeling nature, meeting people, meeting other dogs. But with a little determination you too could make taking a walk outside a few times every day an absolute rule. TIP: put up reminders to move around, and to do it outside. Side tip: Get a dog. Side tip 2: No matter my advice to stay off the pills, consider eating Vitamin D during the dark half of the year, at least if you live in Sweden or work indoors.

I have friends, challenging friends, intelligent friends, interesting friends. They inspire me, push me, lift me up, and in general ‘bother’ me in a good way. They help me break out of homeostatic behavior if I turn complacent and stuck in my ways. Friends come to you based on who you are and what you do. If you represent what you would like to see in a friend, you will attract company with similar values, and you will all be better of for it. TIP: be a role model and hang out with good people.

I pay attention. I live now, not far into the future or way back in the past. TIP: feel; do at least one mindfulness exercise every day, a few seconds would suffice (breathing, touching, feeling, body-scanning, watching, listening, smelling, thoughtfully experiencing). In addition, you should try a full minute of meditation every now and then, once mindfulness has established itself as a natural habit of yours. Don’t get me wrong, you still need to remember and learn from the past, as well as occasionally adjust your general direction into the future, lest you won’t survive. It’s a question of striking the right balance between appreciating and accepting what is, while still being smart about making sure there is enough to appreciate tomorrow too.
Failure is trying, and trying is growing
I’m appreciative, which comes easily and naturally from paying attention (as well as framing my situation as extremely favorable compared to [your choice: the past, other people, you in a parallel world]). I’m always waking up happy to see a new day in this wonderful world of mine, but if you don’t you might need to work on it. If you don’t feel appreciative, try imagining how things could be worse, much worse. That technique is called “framing”: If you’re standing in line, at least you’re not at the office, right? TIP: notice good things; do what every life coach in the world instruct their clients; keep a journal in which you everyday write down the best thing with that day, or a failure you avoided.

I Take risks. Live! (which sometimes means flirting ever so little with death, or fear of death). I do something almost every day that scares me, surprises me or makes me laugh. I try to do things I don’t actively want to do either – small things, like taking a cold shower or listening to a suggested podcast on a topic I wouldn’t have chosen myself. TIP: Seek out surprise, and strong emotions like joy and fear. Regularly break out of your homeostasis and make sure you experience new things, stretching those neurons and learn as much as you can. Not only will it make you healthier and happier but it will make you a capable and interesting person to hang out with. TIP 2: Fail. Make it a daily or weekly habit to write down what you have failed at recently. If you don’t fail every now and then, youre not trying, and if you’re not trying you’re not growing. Your failure journal can double as your “framing repository” to look back at on days you’re not failing. Seeing past failures can put your present actions in a better light.
I focused on real wealth
-financial wealth followed as a side effect
I have a lot of money. I ascribe my financial success not to any particular monetary ambition, but to all the suggestions above. I focused on real wealth and just got financial wealth as a bonus. TIP: get a lot of money by doing something meaningful, but don’t waste your life trying to impress others with a huge bank account. It’s nice to be rich, and it’s an important part of feeling relaxed, safe, free and independent; the opposite of slaving away as a mindless drone or compromising your moral for sustenance. But it’s not worth it if getting it means sentencing yourself to decades of prison in meaningless toil during your most physically cabable years.

Once you have the money, you’ll still just want to get back to my list above, now decades older than before. By all means, enjoy creating things and changing the world. Bask in the feeling of accomplishment that the scoring system of making money entails. But be wary of the time spent focusing on amassing money when you could be living. It might help considering if there is something else you’d rather do if the income was the same. Why spend 20 years as an accountant to afford a house with a sea view and lobster for lunch once you retire; when you could dive straight into said sea and catch the lobster yourself today?

Yeah, I know, I’m simplifying way too much in order to make you question what money and wealth actually is. What you need to do is think about what makes you happy when nobody’s watching and make more of that while you still appreciate it. You change as you grow older and the material riches you pile up when you’re young just might not buy the things you crave the most when you’re older.

Conclusion: money is for the poor
This is how I think it is: You want do be happy as much and for as long as possible. Hence, invest in health, good company and experiences. Pay attention to what you’re doing and frame occurences in the best way possible. In that way, life is like a dream, a lucid dream where you’re in control of your happiness (as long as you have access to basic necessities like food and shelter), and that control makes you truly wealthy. In addition, financial wealth isn’t unlikely to follow as well, although at that point you hardly couldn’t care less about the money. After a certain point, its only the poor mind that strives for money in itself, and will forever stay poor. As long as you hesitate to call yourself rich, or think that 2x is just what it takes to get there, you’re still poor and probably always will be.

Things you can buy for money isn’t the answer, no matter how much society tells you it is. How much living space, food and transportation can you enjoy in a lifetime? That’s really all money can buy. That which gives life meaning you still have to create yourself every day.

Begin with your sleep
If you sleep well you get less cravings for junk food and candy. Eating and sleeping better give you more energy which makes it easier to exercise. Exercise makes you hungry for nutritious food, as well as makes it easier to sleep. Exercising outside…, well, gets you outside in the sunlight; and nature provides plenty of opportunity for mindfulness, for moderate risk taking and meeting people.

So, start with taking care of your sleep, which incidentally (not really) often means exposing yourself to sunlight in the first half of the day. Thus a good old fashioned daily walk outside both improves your health in a number of ways, as well as sets you up for sleeping better which in turn is the foundation for all other magic pills of happiness.

Read more of my thoughts on the importance of SLEEP here, and my theory of meaning here, and a short thought on perspective here, and finally this one about striking a balance between exertion and rest here, about the cycle of sow and harvest.

Now, how about that walk outside? Take ten minutes and listen to the first episode of my podcast Future Skills here. If you don’t have iOS you should still be able to find the show on most other podcast apps. Read more about it on the show’s homepage.

BONUS: Keep a lookout for my new podcast in English together with Ludvig Sunström. It’s called “Future Skills”. We’ve kicked off with an amazing interview with hedge fund billionaire, Fourth Turning philosopher, crypto critic and gold bug Martin Sandquist. You can find it here. Don’t forget to leave a review to help new listeners find the show.

If you insist on being goal-oriented you risk just reaching your goals

Topic: Focus on goals, and that’s all you’ll get (if your goal is to become a billionaire, you risk becoming one — and nothing more)

Conclusion: Avoid goals. self-esteem, happiness, experiences and knowing yourself are paramount to second hander “success”


Child psychology for adults with the wrong priorities

The famous Danish child psychologist, Jesper Juul, has advocated witnessing your children’s upbringing, as well as being a true role model, rather than trying to shape and raise them with praise and bans.

Juul builds on observations of children’s willingness to mimic and assist; being helpful. Children try to do the same things you do, and they try to assist you in whatever you’re doing — regardless of what you’re trying to teach them. Children are very competent in this regard, i.e., in doing what you do, rather than what you say.

Juul also discusses self esteem vs. confidence. Self-esteem comes from being seen, loved and cared for, which produces a sense of intrinsic human value. Confidence on the other hand is associated with actual ability, such as being good at running, building things or doing math.

According to Juul, or at least what I remember from his book “Your Competent Child”, you should refrain from overly praising your child, telling them they are “good at drawing”, “good at running” etc., or for that matter issue orders like “get down from there!”, “you are not allowed to…” and so on. Instead, by saying things like “that’s look fun!”, or “do you like to paint?”, a parent encourages children to do things for themselves, to find their own center.

In addition, expressing love unconditionally builds long term self-esteem and a sense of inner worth, whereas praise tends to lead to “only” confidence, which can be ruined by a single poor execution. Nothing can ruin a solid self-esteem, while if your worth is based on ability, any little accident or setback can ruin you.

If you cheer on and praise competence and ability, you risk creating a feedback loop of: achievement = > praise => confidence => good feeling => search for more praise => achievement … => => tangible success

It might sound good being a catalyst for your children’s success, but what’s missing is self-esteem, being happy in oneself without the need for other people’s appreciation. When you’re constantly trying to prove yourself in the eyes of others, it’s difficult to find yourself and attain true happiness. You risk creating materialistic and successful but ultimately unhappy second handers.

In short, if you instill target-seeking in your children (or pursue targets yourself), they risk merely reaching those goals, and missing life altogether.

 

“If you do not change direction,

you might end up where you’re heading”

— Lao Tzu

 

(read that quote, and fifteen more of my favorite, important and useful quotes here)


Conclusion

You want to become rich? What if that’s all you do? (realizing at the age of 87 that you have no friends, are unhappy, lack memorable experiences, have health problems and so on). Imagine you could trade places with Warren Buffett right now. You’d get 100bn dollars, give or take, and you’d be transferred to his 87-year old body. I trust you would say no (as I wrote about here regarding Time and Money)

You want fame? What if that’s all you get? (no real friends, no riches, harassed by stalkers, never left alone)

You want to go to Mars? What if that’s all you get to do; all alone on a space ship, than all alone on an empty planet?

You want to be the world’s strongest man? You want to be the biggest bodybuilder? The fastest 100m dash sprinter?

All of those things may very well lead to interesting experiences, but if the specific goal is all you attain, your life will most likely be a meaningless one. Even worse so if you miss your one goal as well.

A final word: Be very careful in choosing your goals; update and amend them often according to who you have become in the meantime. Prioritize mid-term goals (months to years) over long-term ones (decades to life-time), and mark and celebrate your short and mid term accomplishments.

Don’t ever feel the need to adhere to a plan or goal that your younger self set up, if present you wouldn’t go back and set it up. Present you is all there is (but you might want to do some investing on behalf of your future you, just not too far off into the future)


Do you want to constantly learn new things, experience new things, get to know new people, hang out with friends and so on, then you can start right away and enjoy the entire journey.

It may be too late for you, but please avoid passing on your misguided goal orientation to your children by constant praise or threats and bans, rather than participatory witnessing as a role model.


My next post will be about the difference in longevity between men and women, and what that implies for your lifestyle if you want to live a long and meaningful life. Bookmark this page and subscribe to my newsletter to stay tuned.

Becoming Buffett. Why?

Topic: Finding your drivers, your purpose, your why

Length: Short

Summary: Start with why you do things, instead of just going through your daily and weekly motions on autopilot. Is Warren Buffett a good role model?

Svensk? Lyssna på senaste avsnittet av 25 minuter som handlar om viljestyrka och vikten av att definiera syftet innan du engagerar disciplinen


WHY…

…did you just check your social media (or the stock market)?

Availability/proximity bias? Just because it’s there? Happened automatically; couldn’t think of anything better to do?

If you ask yourself that question – and answer – right before clicking on Twitter, Snapchat or trading platform, you might save yourself the trouble. More important, it’s the first step to break an ugly habit, and save time for better things.


What’s wrong with right now?

What’s wrong with your state of mind, your situation that makes you want to change it by going online to check your news flow of soundbites to see what others are saying, thinking or liking? What good can come from checking your stocks if you’re not trading actively?

-Oh, I’ve got 97 likes on that retweet of a snappy comment about Trump! I wonder if it can get to 100. Yes, it’s 98 now; getting cloooser.


Buffett

Warren to the B says a lot of things: “Ohhh, this is so good” about a mug of coke, “Taking care of your body and brain like it’s a car you have to make last your entire life is paramount” and then driving to his daily breakfast at McDonald’s.

He also says “managing your own future worth while still young is your most important asset allocation and investment decision”.

“How much is 10% of all your future earnings worth? What would you sell it to me for?” is another of WB’s spiels that makes the issue tangible. (ignore the recursivity and moral hazard issues). So, what would you sell 10% of your future earnings for? That amount times ten is what you have to allocate today so choose wisely.

Morale: Investing in yourself is the most important thing you can do, according to Buffett

But what has Buffett himself done?

Sure, he’s the world’s wealthiest man (give or take a few billions or decades), but what is his WHY? What was his purpose of getting rich? What’s his purpose with his amassed fortune? How did making all that money make his life worthwhile? What was it he was able to do, and de facto did, over the last 60-70 years?

  1. Use the same office in a small village
  2. Drive the same short commute, including a fast food breakfast
  3. Hold annual meetings and write annual letters
  4. Give it all away to cure diseases after he’s dead

Everything else have been circuitous, with just one endgame: make more money.

I’m sure he is happy, it’s not that I’m after; he found his purpose early on and stuck with it:

Accumulate wisdom in order to become the richest man in the world and thus be able to accumulate more wisdom. He could of course have just stayed in the same office in the same village for 60+ years without making money, in effect doing the exact same thing – except for the fame. What I don’t quite understand is why he is so laser focused on making money, when he doesn’t seem to want to use it in any other way than to get hold of more money.

Sure, he’ll give it to charity, and that’s quite something. I think it’s really good that he takes money from ignorant people buying coke and burgers, and gives it to Bill Gates to deal with some of the worst troubles in the world. But he himself doesn’t seem to do anything else with his life than eat the same McD breakfasts and sit at the same office reading company statements.

He obviously doesn’t care about the money per se. Perhaps he likes the fame, but first and foremost he probably simply enjoyed the game of investing – much like many enjoy playing Candy Crush, Angry Birds or clicking on their social media accounts for the 100th time.

Anyway, enough about Buffett; there are no good reasons to watch the recent HBO documentary. If you are serious about gaining some practical wisdom you should instead check out this speech by Charlie Munger (or episode 526 of TrendFollowingRadio with Michael Covel for a shorter version of Munger’s most important observations regarding psychology).


What’s your why?

So, Buffett found his why, which amounted to daily dopamine kicks as he rose to investment fame and fortune. His purpose was no better or worse than watching TV or playing video games all life. He had fun. He became nr 1. He sat in an office.

What’s your purpose?

Why do yo do what you do? Why do you drink what you drink, eat what you eat, eat where you eat, dress the way you dress?

Why do you check your social media dozens of times a day?


When I was young, including when I went to college, there was no internet, no mobile phones, no social media. There was nothing to check to get that dopamine kick. Instead I read books, thought, did sports, or played.

I’m not saying life was better, since it wasn’t. Internet connected smartphones have their uses; a lot of them. However, mindlessly wasting time on updating likes, reading memes for a second’s amusement or smirk aren’t among them.


I’m sure you wouldn’t bother to turn on a turned off phone to see “what’s going on” in your Twitter flow. But when the phone is already on, the kick is just a second away, hence you do it again and again.

Short meaningless kicks with no motion forward. But what should you do instead, what do you really want?

What are you waiting for? Why are you just passing time? Or is Twitter, Angry Birds and dinner all you care for?

dinner


Are you wasting your life in a similar fashion?

Why do you live? Why did you go to school? Why do you work so hard? Why are you building that life “platform”, of house, car, boat, work, status…, so intently?

What is it that really drives you? What makes you happy? (see my previous article from December 2015 on everyday happiness) What do you enjoy doing without posting it on social media?

  • Just make money like Buffett
  • Quality time with your closest friends
  • Work hard, play hard; essentially buy expensive toys and travels
  • Experience as much as possible, through, e.g., various travels and trips
  • What would you actually change if you had a billion, i.e., after buying a house, securing transportation and getting a better computer or phone, how would you change what you do in a given day? Do you really need (much) more money than you already have to do that?

Start with your why

(an inspiring book and TED talk about identifying and pursuing your true drivers). The book deals with how to be successful by knowing your ultimate purpose, but I’ve interpreted the question a little more freely.

Once you’ve fulfilled your basic needs in terms of internet connection, food and shelter, what is your WHY for getting up in the morning, for going through the motions?

Which people do you want to spend time with? Doing what? How do you plan to feel good, to feel relevant? How do you want to express yourself? Who do you want to be?

On that topic, by the way, Buffett had this to say in the clip in TrendFollowing: “Think of a few character traits you admire in others, and a few you loathe. Act to become the person you admire the most


Summary: Just ask why

Ask WHY before checking your phone (app that counts how much you check)

Ask WHY before accepting that invitation

Ask WHY you’d do A, and thus miss out on B (alternative cost)

Ask WHY you want more money, status, fame, in exchange for your limited time

Ask WHY you are a member there, why you go to the gym, why you keep postponing what you really want to do, WHY you keep investing but never reaping?

Ask WHY you post things online. Wouldn’t you enjoy your food, your vacation, your expensive car, your tour on a yacht if you couldn’t get any likes?

Then what is it really worth to you?


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