Today I’d like to chat about ways to transform wealth into wellbeing.
Why do we need to talk about that?
Two reasons, really. First, wealth matters little if it doesn’t nourish our lives and contribute to our wellbeing. And second, in our pursuit of wealth we often forget the first point.
How do I know? I know because I have been there. Heck, I’m still one foot there!
For example, when we were paying off our debt (and, of course, by this very act increasing our wealth) we spent very little on our wellbeing. Yes, I continued running marathons, kept up to date with my visits to the dentist and had professional haircuts. John didn’t run marathons. This was about it.
Having developed the habit curb spending on fun and wellbeing, I find that I still find it hard to splash out on things that may not pay off immediately but feel so good. Meanwhile, we have increased our net word rather substantially.
I reckon, if I make a list of all way to transform wealth into wellbeing, the prospect of doing it would increase. Hence, I challenged myself to brainstorm ways to transform wealth into wellbeing.
(Oh, and as a side note, you really don’t have to be very wealthy to start doing that.)
First things first:
What is wellbeing?
There is a lot of research on wellbeing. Philosophers, psychologists and economists disagree somewhat on what it is. I’m not going to bother you with these debates.
What is important for all of us to understand, and remember, is that wellbeing is about feeling healthy, hopeful, happy. Yes, I realise that feeling happy all the time is not likely: after all, happiness exists only on the background of misery. And frankly, people who are cheerful as a canary all the time can be highly irritating.
Let’s say, that wellbeing is about being healthy, optimistic and happy most of the time.
Another point we must remember is that wellbeing can apply to many different areas of life. Here, I’d introduce five areas of wellness:
#1. Physical wellbeing
Physical wellness is about making sure that our bodies work optimally. There is very high level of agreement that this can be achieved through:
- Moving and exercise;
- Eating right and well;
- Not overdoing alcohol (and drugs)
- Having regular medical, and dental, check-ups;
- Not ignoring symptoms of illness; and
- Sleeping long enough.
Most of all, physical wellbeing is about balance and the Socratic principle of moderation. See, exercise is good for you but running over 20 miles a week gives you brittle bones. A glass of wine now and then has not done anybody any harm (this may be my Sothern European background speaking). Yet, having couple of bottle a night will give you rotten liver. And on it goes.
#2. Emotional wellbeing
Emotional wellbeing is about psychological health and emotional balance. It is about developing an open mindset, leaving Eeyore behind, facing the world with love and goodness, seeking help for psychological illness, and loving yourself (and showing it).
#3. Social wellbeing
You know, one of the saddest books I’ve read is ‘Bowling alone’ by D. Putnam. This is a study of the erosion of social capital in the US and it really struck a chord.
Nobody should be bowling alone.
For that matter, nobody should be worried that they’ll be ‘eaten by Alsatians’ when they pass away.
Building, and maintaining, connections with other people and groups is a major part of wellbeing. (Research shows that people who are well connected and sociable live longer than lonely people.)
Building close relationships (friendships) takes time, effort, planning and generosity. Becoming an active and committed member of different groups takes effort as well. But it is so worth it!
Another aspect of social wellbeing is about getting out of toxic relationships.
#4. Spiritual wellbeing
My long-term readers know that my relationship with God is somewhat tense. I’m not an atheist but this is only because I like to keep my options open. Like when I fly and the airplane hits bad turbulence I want to be able to negotiate with the Supreme Being.
Hence, I can tell you as a non-believer: you don’t have to be religious to be spiritual.
Spirituality is about finding meaning; it is about finding your very personal ‘why’. Spirituality is also about living a mindfully and having, and observing, your moral standards.
#5. Intellectual wellbeing
Intellectual wellbeing is about learning, becoming a better version of yourself all the time and about solving problems.
In an ideal world the level of wellbeing in the different areas will be similar. In reality, we all have very uneven profile when it comes to wellbeing in the different areas of our lives. Which usually means that overall, our level of wellbeing is not very good.
Here is the list of 27 ways to increase overall level of wellness and transform wealth into wellbeing. Most, but not all, would require you to put some of your wealth behind them.
(This list isn’t in any specific order; it starts with the physical wellbeing, but this is simply how things worked out.)
Ways to transform wealth into wellbeing
#1. Join a gym
Exercise is good for you. I prefer to do aerobic exercise outside. With age, I find I need more strength exercise and for this I need to go to the gym.
And before all sacrifice loving extreme savers who seriously believe that gym membership is a monumental waste of money have any opportunity to sway the discussion let me tell you something: gym membership is only wasted when you don’t use it. Join a gym and make sure you exercise three to five times a week. Your body needs to move a minimum of two hours per day to keep healthy and most of us don’t move even ten minutes.
#2. Work with a fitness instructor
You think you can get into the fitness thing on your own? Good luck with that. I’m someone who changed from ‘no sport’ to running marathons. Couldn’t have done it without a personal trainer. And it is not about the knowledge; it is about shame.
#3. Join a Zumba class
Most people find exercising boring. An easy way out of this is to join a dance-based exercise class like Zumba (or yoga, or anything that rocks your boat). One day when my grand-child asks me whether I have ever done anything mad, I’ll tell her/him that I did a Zumba class on the streets of Santiago. I loved it! (This is not the only mad thing I’ve done, and it is not the maddest thing I’ve done.)
#4. Go out dancing
Dancing, even done badly, brings loads of pleasure. It also combines exercise, emotional release and social contact.
#5. Learn to cook
I seriously doubt that you could buy a meal that is as nutritious as one cooked at home (from scratch). Cooking also grows on you and can become one of the ways to unwind. I used a Nintendo game when I first started cooking. Planning to go on some courses.
And sometimes, things that seem really complicated are easy to cook and delicious; like this feta cheese pie.
#6. Buy quality ingredients
This is about nutrition and enjoyment. High quality ingredients make for a better meal.
#7. Keep your teeth healthy
Teeth are important for wellbeing. Having good teeth is instrumental (eating), aesthetically pleasing (you look better), improves your social and employment prospects and helps your self- image and esteem. If you must splash out on braces, regular check-ups and cleaning, please do.
#8. Go for a nice haircut
Some personal finance bloggers have a thing for cutting their own hair. Don’t do it. When someone cuts their hair, it always shows. And, shallow as this may seem, I’d never hire anyone who has a shoddy haircut. Neither would most people who recruit for professional jobs. Did I mention that a good haircut makes you feel like a million dollars?
#9. Sleep a minimum of eight hours per night
Our brains, and the rest of our nervous system, needs rest. Get into the habit of sleeping at least eight hours per night.
#10. Develop an open mindset
This is a tough one because can’t draw on research showing that close-minded people are less content than open minded people. I’m yet to meet a well-adjusted, closed-minded person though. Just be on the safe side and cultivate an open mind set: it is better for you and the ones around you.
#11. Train yourself to turn the negative into an opportunity
This sounds like mambo-jumbo even to me. It would probably be best to give you an example. Several years ago, when coming back from Copenhagen, my Easy Jet flight was severely delayed. We are talking approximately 10 hours. I could have spent my time fuming, but I didn’t. Got a group of interesting people together and we drank beer and chatted.
#12. Show yourself the love
This is about treating yourself from time to time. Have a massage or take a weekend away. You’d feel better.
#13. Seek professional help if you have psychological problems
#14. Go to concerts, the theatre or a football game
You may think that this is not your cup of tea, but I’d urge you to try. Mass gatherings are a great way to rid yourself of negativity and to deal with aggression is socially acceptable ways (like shouting at a football game).
#15. Attend events
Any event you find interesting and that provides opportunities for meeting, and talking to, new people is worth considering. It matters little whether it is a course on bread making, hand off massage or algorithmic FX trading.
#16. Entertain at home
Organise parties and dinner parties for your friends and acquaintances. Involves a bit of work and planning but would do wonders for your social wellbeing.
#17. Get out of toxic relationships
Some of these can be easy – you just cut the line. Close relationships, like marriage, are a matter of getting out and making sure you will be okay (this applies equally to women and men). You need your personal ‘freedom fund’.
#18. Give and be generous
Generosity feels good. Make someone’s day, I dare you.
#19. Find the meaning of your life
A life without meaning is boring and, frankly, hardly worth living. Remember that Nietzsche said:
“He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How.”
Have you also noticed that when your life has no meaning, or it is very narrow, selfish one, you feel disgruntled?
Hence, for wellbeing, you must find the meaning to your life. This may change with time, but you need it. You may need help to work it out. Go to a retreat, read and explore.
#20. Go to a spiritual retreat
Going to a spiritual retreat contributed to wellbeing in many ways. Most of all, this will push you out of your comfort zone, outside what is familiar and make you reflect on the direction of your life.
#21. Don’t compromise on your moral values
Compromise is a necessary part of our lives: without it we’d likely break.
Still, we all need a core of beliefs about good and evil, right and wrong which forms our moral foundation.
Don’t compromise on your core moral values even when this makes your life much harder. Giving in will make you feel so much worse.
I firmly believe that it is very important to read. And, no; watching videos is not the same. A major difference is that getting information from visual sources (videos, movies etc.) is consumption. You passively absorb the information.
Reading is when your brain actively interprets the information.
#23. Attend courses
Learning is important for wellbeing. And the best way to learn is by attending a course. This is also a good opportunity to meet kindred spirits and make some new friends.
#24. Solve problems
Solving problems – yours, your friends’ or global ones – make one feel good. Being a producer beats the hell out of consumption.
You may need to do some courses on creativity and developing your problem solving abilities.
#25. Become a producer
This looks like I’m repeating myself, doesn’t it?
Probably I’m a bit. But if something comes up more than once it only means that it is very important.
Being a producer, contributing to your life, the lives of the people you love and the groups in which you are involved is highly satisfying. It accords with finding your meaning, feeling useful and your general wellbeing.
#26. Go on holidays
Have you noticed that one of the first things people would say about someone in debt is likely about ‘going on all these holidays’?
This tells us that holidays are largely seen as an indulgence that can be foregone. (Probably this is the reason so many British people behave badly on holiday – if a holiday is an indulgence they indulge. Heck, they over-indulge.)
I’ve always seen holidays as a necessity. Going on holiday, and traveling, is my way to un-wind and give my body and soul the relaxation they deserve.
Our holidays are generally relaxed and relaxing. If a plan, or a trip, goes astray, we don’t sweat it. We enjoy nice food, the occasional glass of wine or cocktail and savour the friendships we build.
After a good holiday, a writing job that would have taken 3 days would take me a day. So, having a good holiday I see not only as a great contribution to my wellbeing but also as an investment.
Try it. And try to stay away for couple of weeks.
#27. Every day do one nice thing for someone
Benevolence feels good. I try to do something good for someone every day. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Some days, I’d just invite someone with less shopping to go before me at the check-out.
Try smiling at people; you’d notice they generally smile back and their mood visibly lifts.
This costs little and contributes greatly to your wellbeing.
What does money mean to you?
Does it mean simply the numbers you read on your computer screen (paper statement) or you see it as the ‘super food’ that nourishes your life?
Me? I believe that money has little point if it doesn’t nourish my life. Hence, mastering the art of transforming wealth into wellbeing is critical.
Here, I shared 27 ideas to transform wealth into wellbeing; hopefully these will help you work out what would work for you.