- Rafael Badziag interviewed 21 billionaires for his book “The Billion Dollar Secret.”
- According to him, billionaires are happier than the average person, but not because they have more money.
- Billionaires have choices, opportunities, and strong relationships – all three of which make them happy.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Over half a decade ago I made myself take a journey to meet with the best entrepreneurs in the world and find out the secrets of their extreme business performance. It took six years of my life,21 self-made billionaires, several travels around the globe, and the involvement of 80 people to make it a reality.
At the end, I found a set of 20 principles common to all the billionaires that enabled them to become so outrageously successful in business. I describe them in the book, “The Billion Dollar Secret.” But probably the most common question I’ve been asked when writing this book was “Are billionaires happy?”
People generally tend to represent one of the two extreme opinions. The first one is, “Money will make you happy;” the other is, “Those poor billionaires, they are so rich but unhappy.”
What I found out in my research is that money itself doesn’t change much about your ability to be happy – it just magnifies your personality. Happy people become happier and unhappy people become miserable when they get wealthy.
Money doesn’t give you happiness. It gives you choice. And a lot of money gives you a lot of choice – but not everybody can handle that choice.
So, are billionaires happy? The short answer is “Yes, but not for the reasons you may think.”
The same personality traits that make billionaires money also help them build happy relationships.
First, there are many downsides of this level of business success. To become a billionaire means a huge investment of time, energy, and effort. It means committing decades of your life and working 24/7 at the expense of your private and family life. It means not being able to take vacation or having leisure time. It means huge burden of responsibility and stress. And, yes, you are lonely with your problems. There is nobody around who could help you with the problems of the magnitude you cope with.
Despite this price that billionaires pay, some of their personality traits are helpful both in making a lot of money and in making them happy. Billionaires are experts in human psychology, which allows them to build harmonious long-term relationships that contribute to their happiness.
In contrast to public opinion about the rich, the self-made billionaires I have met and interviewed with have simple, even uneventful private lives. They choose a tolerant partner who covers their back and supports them in what they do. Traditional family gives them stability, which is good both for business performance and for a high level of self-comfort.
Frank Hasenfratz, a Canadian self-made billionaire and founder of Linamar, considers having a supportive partner an essential condition to business success.
Billionaires love their work and the opportunities it creates.
Billionaires love what they do. They enjoy their business and the industry they’re in. Naturally, this makes you happier than having to do what you don’t like. And billionaires are free in the sense that they work not because they have to, but because they like doing it and find it important.
More money means also more control over their lives and environment. Their abilities and wealth give them more options to react to negative situations in their lives and create positive outcomes. What makes Jack Cowin, the Australian self-made billionaire, happy is “being able to control my own agenda.”
Billionaires are pretty happy with who they are and proud with what they have accomplished. And they can be fully themselves, a luxury many of us can’t afford.
Billionaires are creators. They make things happen. Seeing their thoughts materialise and positively contributing to the lives of other people and seeing them grow, succeed, and be happy gives billionaires fulfillment. And they get a lot of recognition and respect for it. Of course, this adds to their happiness. Michał Sołowow, the wealthiest person in Poland, told me, “What makes me happy is when I see the people I’ve touched are happy. That makes me tremendously happy and emotional.”
Billionaires regularly practice habits that breed happiness.
Despite common belief, billionaires really appreciate the simple things of life. After all, they have tasted it all. One of the greatest enjoyments for Peter Hargreaves, an English self-made billionaire and the founder of Hargreaves Lansdown, is “digging vegetables for lunch on a Sunday morning.”
And let’s not forget other billionaire traits and habits that support happiness: belief, optimism, trust, having a purpose and following your mission, taking care of your health, being proactive, being yourself and not bending yourself, personal integrity, and giving back.
Of course, all of the above doesn’t protect billionaires from personal tragedies like illness or grief after the loss of loved ones. And, of course, not all billionaires are happy. But considering all the factors, billionaires are on average happier than the rest of us for the above reasons.