If you have emailed me recently, you will know from my autoresponder that I was away. Again.
Yes, I was on leave, but did not see it as a holiday. The idea was to see my elderly mother, who is 84 years old, in India. Well, that is what I told everyone. But between you and me, I thought it was a good excuse to see a World Cup Cricket match in India.
It was all planned. Except the plan fell apart because Indian bureaucracy meant that despite empty stadiums it was impossible to get tickets. This was because to get a ticket, you had to jump over all hoops and even do a long jump. Then, you had to pay but could not pay if you had an overseas credit card. And finally, if you managed to get someone who could pay for you, you could not pick up tickets from the stadium. You must travel 10 km away and pick it up from a shopping mall on the day of the match but not before. I kid you not.
Anyway, whenever I meet clients or friends who complain about life, are frustrated, feel down, depressed, or just a bit angry, I often explain and try to show that they are in the top 10%. Top 10% of what you may ask? Well, almost everything.
Let me explain.
Yes, it was a nice excuse to spend time with my mother. She lives in a small city about 5 hours away from Mumbai. India is chaotic at the best of times, and since I had not been to India in 15 years, I knew it was going to be interesting. Now, it is not as if I have been exposed to a luxury lifestyle all the time. Many of you know I have a team in the Philippines, and pre-pandemic, I would visit to see them and go on medical missions too. I have lived in social housing, so I have a decent idea of how some people live. But this time it was not for a few days …. It was for 3 weeks.
At 7 am on my first day, I was introduced to a parade. I was at least 100m away, but the noise did not stop my teeth vibrating. It was so loud my ears started to bleed. And then, for 4 hours after that, I was stone deaf. I went into the shower to find that I had 2 options for water temperature: burning hot or scolding hot. As I did not want 3rd-degree burns, I decided not to use the shower and go for the bucket method. I last used the bucket method in 1975, so let’s just say I was a bit out of practice. This resulted in an empty bucket within seconds, only for me to realise that refilling another bucket takes 5 minutes. After 3 hours, I considered myself clean.
Now we all hear and know there are people on the planet who survive on $2 a day. The problem is we have no idea who they are. We have no faces to make them real. But when you see people and know people who do survive on $2 a day, you know for sure it is real. And so, I met a man who works at the local grocery store. He works 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. He gets no holiday leave/ pay and definitely no sick pay or leave. He earns $1.86 a day.
But although he would like more pay, he seemed sanguine and quite content with his life. I saw him every day for 2 weeks, and not once did he seem down or unhappy. He just went about his business.
Now I know what you are thinking. What does any of this have to do with business, working less, earning more or creating financial wealth? Nothing, to be honest.
But I want to explain there are different types of wealth. Your health is considered wealth. Being content with life is wealth. Wealth does not have to be financial. And sometimes, other wealth trumps financial wealth.
You see, I am not used to having a holiday in a chaotic city. Yes, it is fascinating but not really my idea of a holiday. But my objective was to be with my mum, so that is what I did. She is at an age where all she has are memories. Mostly good, some bad, sadness and laughter too. We also had philosophical discussions about life, regrets and experiences too. We talked a lot.
And she knows there would be more luxury if she were to live with me or my brother, but she finds more peace in our home in India.
You see when we book holidays, we tend to go to the best hotels, eat at the nicest restaurants and spend time sightseeing. And this results in many photos and videos ending up on Facebook and Instagram. It does not mean we did not have fun or we are trying to show we somehow have better lives. We do that because that is what is expected.
After 2 and a half weeks, I left for Mumbai, where there was a chance of a decent shower and fancy restaurant. And to be honest, I probably had the longest shower of my life. I had breakfast in one of the nicest breakfast buffets I have seen and went to a seafood restaurant, which even I cannot explain. The food, the ambience and the service seemed out of this world.
But the breakfast was without my mother, and to be honest, I think I felt the fish she made one night for dinner, which cost Rs100 ($1.80), trumped the crabs I had in Mumbai, which cost way more than anything I would have paid even in Australia.
We often forget the idea of a holiday or a break is to relax, recharge and return, rearing to go. And sometimes I wonder if what we do on holiday achieves that.
When we go back to basic living, we learn something. We learn that financial wealth is just that. It gives us units of choices. All it does is widen the choices on our life’s menu. You see, by living in the Western world, we are automatically in the top 10% of the world’s financial wealth and the world’s opportunities.
In other words, the creation of money and wealth allows us to choose things we can do, which, without that wealth, we cannot do. But it’s the actual choice, and the way we look at life determines the actual wealth you have, not the number of zeros in your bank account, property portfolio or share value.