“Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which once you have got it you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known.”
~ Garrison Keillor
Yesterday, I heard a story about Markus Persson, a Swedish video-game programmer, and the founder and creator of Minecraft. If you happen to be a parents of a child over the age of, say, 8, it's likely that you already know all about Minecraft (ad nauseum), but for those who have blissfully escaped Minecraft Mania, Minecraft is a video game where players can build a virtual world using an assortment of blocks -- sort of like virtual LEGO. Since its creation in 2011, millions of copies of Minecraft have been sold, and the company that owned Minecraft was bought by Microsoft, making Markus Persson a billionaire.
You would think this would make him happy.
However, late last month, Persson, who has over 2.5 million followers on Twitter, shared the following series of tweets within 5 minutes of each other:
The problem with getting everything is you run out of reasons to keep trying, and human interaction becomes impossible due to imbalance.— Markus Persson (@notch) August 29, 2015
Hanging out in ibiza with a bunch of friends and partying with famous people, able to do whatever I want, and I've never felt more isolated.— Markus Persson (@notch) August 29, 2015
In sweden, I will sit around and wait for my friends with jobs and families to have time to do shit, watching my reflection in the monitor.— Markus Persson (@notch) August 29, 2015
When we sold the company, the biggest effort went into making sure the employees got taken care of, and they all hate me now.— Markus Persson (@notch) August 29, 2015
Found a great girl, but she's afraid of me and my life style and went with a normal person instead.— Markus Persson (@notch) August 29, 2015
It would be easy to dismiss him and say "Oh, poor baby, having a hard time with all those billions, are you?" (and to his credit, after the tweets above got shared and re-shared thousands of times, he later tweeted: "To people out there with real problems: I'm sorry the whining of a newly wealthy programmer gets more attention than yours. Stay strong.") but honestly, I feel really sorry for him. He sounds miserable.
When I was in my early 20s, just graduating from university, if you'd asked me what I wanted for myself, I would've probably told you that I wanted to live in a big house and drive a fancy car. As I've gotten older, however, the big house has become less important (there are only 3 of us, after all, and our house is plenty big enough and comfortable for our family), and I've no intention of giving up my 8-year-old dented Toyota Yaris anytime soon (it still drives great, it's paid off, and besides -- I work from home, what do I need a fancy car for?). Still, I'd be lying if I said that I don't sometimes envy the huge walk-in closets my friends have, or I don't imagine how I'd spend lottery-money winnings if I ever actually stopped to buy a ticket (small, beautiful cottages in gorgeous locations around the world, since you asked). But even so, I can imagine a certain emptiness I would feel if I suddenly found myself with everything I ever dreamed I wanted, and nothing to strive for. It would feel very hollow, indeed.
As I concentrate on growing and morphing my business, I've been getting receiving little messages like this: the Markus Persson story, and the Garrison Keillor quote I shared at the top of this post, as two examples that have crossed my path recently. Be careful what you wish for, they seem to say. Move mindfully.
I'll definitely heed these little messages from the universe. In any event, over the course of my life, I've come to believe that there are two ways to experience joy in my life now, right this minute, and for the rest of my time on the earth. Both ways are things I've shared many times here on Chookooloonks, but this is the first time that I've thought of them as going hand-in-hand, and so I share them with you now:
1) The first is using your talents to be of service. Accepting your nomination, in other words: using the gifts and skills that light you up in service of other people. I say this not because I think it's a good and charitable thing to do to help your fellow woman and man (although I do), but for more selfish reasons: it just feels good to help people. The people you serve will be grateful, obviously, but my point is that you'll actually be happy when you do it.
2) The second is a gratitude practice. I believe that having a daily practice of thinking about what went well in your day -- everything from small, seemingly insignificant events like the barista getting your coffee order perfectly, to bigger events, like celebrating the birthday or the success of a loved one -- is a sure-fire way to quell the "why can't I be wealthy" blues. By taking note of the good in your life -- daily, with intention -- I think it helps sustain you through the tough times, and eventually, helps you redefine "wealthy" to mean something that you'll discover you already are.
Happy Monday, friends.
Soundtrack: Keep it there, by The Weepies