Is happy the new rich?


“Don't brag about your lightning pace, for slow and steady won the race!”

We all know the story about the “Tortoise and the Hare.” Akin to the slowpoke, I argue that an unskilled but diligent, reliable and persistent person will eventually overtake the talented but unconcerned, inconsistent and complacent person.

Perhaps like you, I am a tortoise. I am not naturally gifted, and I never had the raw talent to compete. However, I am an intensely curious perfectionist, who obsesses with personal and professional growth. Additionally, I am not a patient person, and I have a strong and inflexible conviction on certain issues.

In the end, I mistakenly believed that happiness orbited around success: that if I worked hard enough and long enough, I will be “successful.” Moreover, I thought that only if I was successful would I become happy. Yep, this leatherback was often too dumb to quit and too stubborn to back off, which ultimately proved the notion that the fire that fuels often consumes.

Too many people, like me, want happiness, love and money, but we want it yesterday! I call it the “disease.” Far too many people believe that having more money is the key to a better life, but it is not.

What I find thought-provoking and perhaps incredibly sad is that so many of us have to learn this lesson the hard way. In other words, our endless dedication and commitment to excellence, along with the never-ending demands that we place on ourselves, arguably takes its toll on our body and mind.

It is only when we are downtrodden when we wonder: What is the point to all of this craziness? Yep, it took me excessively too long to grasp the arguable fact that success does not lead to happiness. Instead, happiness creates success!

Nevertheless, while I became “successful” by industry standards, I put forth that career success is how people who care about us the least evaluate our worth as a person. Furthermore, I am no longer impressed with one’s net worth, apparent importance or possessions. Instead, maybe like you, I find value with the handicapped, the sick and the poor. I learned far more from these folks than I have from the well-to-do. 

Now that I am a mature 57-year-old who carries his “black and blues” proudly, I have finally evolved on this money/happiness issue. The way I see it, success and happiness have very little to do with making a lot of dough. Instead, it is about having more time, which means freedom to do what I want, when I want.

No matter how many research reports I read concerning money and happiness, the conclusion appears to be consistent: once our basic needs are met, money and other accolades do not make us happier. Of course, just as more money does not necessarily bring more happiness, there is nothing inherently wrong with working hard and making a lot of money. However, earning more greenbacks does not automatically earn us more happiness, as research clearly indicates that the happiness that money offers does not keep improving. Instead, it plateaus. In the final analysis, a lack of money often brings unhappiness, but an overabundance does not have the contrasting effect.

I regularly reflect on the “Tortoise and the Hare” fable, but not in a way that one might imagine. I remind myself how productive it would be if I could consistently apply the reliability and persistency of the slow and steady to that of the fast and talented. The fact is that I am a chronic and recovering overachiever who continues to obsess with winning the race. Simply stated, I often wonder what it would be like to be both the tortoise and the hare! As you can see, I am still work in progress.


Harry Pappas Jr. CFP®

Managing Director-Investments

Master of Science Degree Personal Financial Planning
Certified Estate & Trust Specialist ™

Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™
Pappas Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors

818 North Highway A1A, Ste 200

Ponte Vedra, Florida 32082


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