We’ve previously talked about the relationship between money and happiness (here and here), and we’ve also tackled the issue of “how much is enough.” With those discussions as a backdrop…
I recently ran across an interesting article about an Austrian millionaire that’s giving away his entire fortune. He’s selling his homes, cars, the business that made his fortune, etc. and donating everything to a micro-lending charity (similar to Kiva) that he set up in Latin America, and from which he will not draw a salary.
Why is he doing this?
“For a long time I believed that more wealth and luxury automatically meant more happiness. I come from a very poor family where the rules were to work more to achieve more material things, and I applied this for many years.”
Over time, however, his mindset changed:
“More and more I heard the words: ‘Stop what you are doing now â€“ all this luxury and consumerism â€“ and start your real life.’ I had the feeling I was working as a slave for things that I did not wish for or need.”
He came to this realization while on a luxury vacation in Hawaii.
“It was the biggest shock in my life, when I realized how horrible, soulless and without feeling the five star lifestyle is… We spent all the money you could possibly spend. But in all that time, we had the feeling we hadn’t met a single real person… The staff played the role of being friendly and the guests played the role of being important and nobody was real.”
Crazy? Perhaps, but it’s what he feels driven to do.
“My idea is to have nothing left. Absolutely nothing. Money is counterproductive – it prevents happiness to come.”
In the future, you’ll be able to find him hanging out in a small, mountainside hut or a rented room in Innsbruck.
What do you think?
While it might be a bit extreme to simply give it all away, have you given much thought to the question of how much is enough? If so, what do you plan to do if/when you reach that point?