I recently sat down for a coffee with a guy friend new to town. We were relatively new friends and we had a lot to talk about. I asked him what made him move to Cape Town.

“I couldn’t live for money anymore,” was his response.

“Oh,” I replied. “What made you change your mind?”

“I had a quarter-life crisis and I realised that all I was doing was working and my life had become a blur I barely felt in control of.”

So many people go about life seeking money. In a way, I kind of understand it. When I was growing up my parents had a lot less money than many of the families around us. I remember going to other people’s houses and watching cable TV on a huge television and then swimming in the pool. We didn’t have these things, and I often felt like my friends wouldn’t want to visit my home. I remember attending extravagant dinner parties with round after round of drinks, knowing as I sat there that my mom deliberated when she bought ice cream for our once a week treat.

As a teenager I didn’t understand the value of things which really matter. I didn’t realise that in actual fact, I was richer than most of the kids in my grade. My parents were happily married and I didn’t have to navigate a divorce. I learned discipline. We went for walks in the evenings or read books. We had conversations.

I’ve since learned that money may buy you things that make you happy, but happiness from within is what money can’t buy.

How to be rich without a huge bank account:

Accept yourself

An essential part of happiness is learning to be content. You have to learn to be content with much in life, and content with little. As we go through life we don’t know what will happen to us. You may lose all your money or you may get lots of money. Either way, if your happiness is contingent on this you will be in a lot of trouble.

Get creative

Strong people aren’t forged out of ease and comfort. Strong people of character are formed out of tough times. Some of the most creative ideas have come to light because people were in situations where they had to make something happen. It’s so easy to buy a cheap meal; it’s a lot more difficult to meal plan, budget shop, and prepare something yourself. Let your difficulties cause you to innovate.

Do what you love

Eight hours is a lot of time. If you spend eight hours every day doing something you hate you will find it difficult to be a happy person. Do what you love and money will matter a lot less. Passion has a way of fuelling you beyond financial reward. Ironically, they often find that those who do what they love end up making more in the long run simply because they love their craft.

Build relationships

People are what matter. Ask someone on their dying bed what gave their life value and nobody says money. They say people. People turn our worlds from grey to colour. They add dimension, complexity, they demand us to grow and they speak to our hearts. Build good relationships with good people. Treat them with respect, kindness, gratitude, and humility. Smile and go the extra mile. When you have loads of great people in your life, even if you are dirt poor you will feel richer than any oil sheik.

The Bible says: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have. God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'” – Hebrews 13:5.

Even when we feel like there is nowhere to turn, nothing in the bank account, and our lives are a mess, we can remember God promised he will never leave.

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