Why do you want wealth? Are you hoping it will make you happier?

There is a common belief in society that more money will bring more happiness, but my experience has taught me otherwise.

I am the daughter of a billionaire; I was raised in a household of great wealth and luxury. Yet for all of my childhood and much of my adulthood, money was not a source of happiness for me. Instead, I felt disempowered, devalued and in a regular state of panic.

But even beyond my personal experience, statistics show that we are misguided to believe that we’ll be happier when we’re wealthier.

  • The wealthiest people on Earth (based on average wealth per adult) live in Switzerland, Australia, United States, United Kingdom, Belgium, Canada, Japan, Sweden, and Italy. (Credit Suisse, 2016)
  • The happiest people are those that live in Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Sweden. (World Happiness Report, 2017)

Only four of the wealthiest nations on the planet are among the happiest. This is not a very convincing statistic for those who would like us to believe that wealth is the magic gateway to contentment.

But what happens if we look at prosperous countries – those that thrive in terms of both wealth and well-being; cash flow and community; income and inspiration? The results are amazing.

  • The most prosperous nations on earth are New Zealand, Norway, Finland, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and the United Kingdom. (Legatum Prosperity Index, 2016)

Take a good look: nine out of the ten most prosperous countries are also in the top ten for happiness! This is an undeniable connection. Global statistics show that prosperity is more aligned with happiness than pure wealth.

At the age of 40, I was a newly divorced mother of two, with a two million dollar debt and a determination to take control of my financial well-being.

I left the mansion and moved into a two-bedroom cottage with my two boys. I sold all the excess that I was used to living with in my youth and limited my spending to things that were necessary for existence and education of myself and my boys. It was in this time of simplicity that I discovered a new way of viewing life. I found happiness.

I was not as rich in a financial sense but for the first time in my life, I felt truly prosperous.

With all of this in mind, I think it’s worth asking again: why do you want to be wealthy? Perhaps what you really want, is to be prosperous.

Prosperity is a vital key to happiness and it has nothing to do with the money you have. Rather, it is about the relationship you have with money; it is about being empowered in your personal finances and knowing that money does not control you. It is about using money – not as a gauge of success of self-worth – but as a tool to enhance and nurture your life in meaningful and joyous ways. Prosperity is about:

Empowerment: A vital key to prosperity is knowing that you are in control of your own financial well-being. It is having the courage, vulnerability, and self-worth to master your money (regardless of how much you are earning) and utilize it in wise and fruitful ways.

Gratitude: This is what I learned from my days of debt: be thankful for everything you have, understanding the pleasure in every small thing, is a powerful and profound way to liberate yourself from issues around money.

It allows you to understand the beauty of a more elegant lifestyle, which means to create with minimum effort the greatest result. This choice puts you in a position of power over money because it means you approach financial decisions out of a desire to create the right riches for you, not a need.

Enthusiasm and fun: What if creating wealth doesn’t have to be such a serious and dour experience?

Earning money can be fun. Investing money can be fun. Researching possibilities and discussing ideas can be incorporated into fun date nights, or family outings. (I like to take my sons on antiques adventures, where they are challenged to find the best deal.)

Prosperity involves enjoying the process of making, spending and investing money, and feeling excitement for the possibilities you can create for your future.

I don’t care who you are or what your background is, I truly believe you have the ability to create the right riches for you. But these days, the meaning of being “rich” has been stripped down to a purely financial, and transactional, definition.

I have learned that life is far greater than a simple bank balance. Instead, its value comes from being creative, joyful, engaged, enthusiastic and bold.

The true pursuit in life is to prosper, and the true value of life lies in acknowledging money for what it is – a tool for you to wield wisely, enjoy gratefully and create joyously.