Is it better to be poor and happy or rich and unhappy? My answer is poor and happy. This is why…
I hear the same lines over and over again. “Paul, why don’t you just jack it in and get a regular nine to five job?”
You’d be amazed how many people say that to me: my father (R.I.P dad, I will always love you), my mother, my brother, virtually all my friends…
To be fair they definitely do have a point. I struggle to get by. It’s a fight to put food in the fridge. And yes, life would be very much easier if I just got a regular nine to five, even a minimum wage nine to five job.
But I refuse. And at the grand old age of thirty-three (okay it’s really not that old, but it’s old enough to know yourself), I don’t think I’m every likely to change my mind. Not unless it gets to the point where I am quite literally starving. Oh wait, no, I’ve been there before and still kept going.
The reason for my stubbornness is really very simple. Life is too damned short. It’s too short to not do what you’re passionate about. And what I, personally, am passionate about is writing.
I write on my blogs, I write for magazines, I write books, I write poetry… I write because I believe that words hold great power. I believe words can change the world. And so I write. I write because when my kids decide what words to put on my tombstone, I want them to write something that matters. You know, something along the lines of, “He sacrificed himself for others.” Something like that.
I often ask myself is it better to be poor and happy or rich and unhappy. But my passion is not as important as your passion.
We all have a passion, I’m pretty certain of that. You almost certainly know precisely what your passion is. What is it? To travel the world on a spiritual quest? To run your own business? To become a personal trainer? To be a famous movie star? Whatever it is, you should do it, because you’re capable of doing it.
I truly believe that we all have the power to do amazing things, and it’s our responsibility to try to do those amazing things no matter what sacrifices we have to make.
I’m definitely not alone in that belief, either. In fact, I suspect that every other INFP feels the same way I do.
An INFP, by the way, is one of the Briggs Myers archetypes. The letters stand for Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving. Apparently as a male INFP I am in one of the rarest types of people, which I suppose accounts for why I feel so weird compared to everyone else (I feel different because, well, I am different. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with that).
I recommend you take the Briggs Myers test yourself and discover your archetype. You might find it’s quite eye opening. The results of my test say that I’m a visionary artist who creates stories non-stop and even brings stuffed animals to life by giving them personalities and stories—all of which is shockingly true.
But I digress.
So, is it better to be poor and happy or rich and unhappy?
Personally, I would rather die poor trying to achieve something amazing, than be rich and doing a job I hate.
And again I’m not alone, because really this post isn’t about me—even though I have been shockingly self-involved up to this point.
The simple reason why it’s better to struggle for your passion than live in comfort for a job you hate, is this. You’re going to die. Sorry. Bumma, I know. But you are going to die. Your life on Earth is really fairly short. But what might not be short is your influence. Shakespeare lived to be just 52. But his influence—ah, his influence—that lasted for four hundred years and counting.
The only reason Shakespeare was able to influence people for more than four hundred years is that he lived for his passion.
I wonder what Shakespeare would say if you asked him “Is it better to be poor and happy or rich and unhappy.” Something very philosophical and poetic, no doubt.
No doubt there were times when Shakespeare struggled. Being a writer has never and will never be easy. It’s the same for all arts (unless you’re born into riches and fame like Beyonce and Daniel Day Lewis). Mozart lived an extremely difficult life. So did Van Gogh. But they changed the world of music and art more than anyone else who ever lived (except perhaps for Beethoven and Haydn, and Michelangelo and Da Vinci, respectively).
Divine people like Van Gogh, Mozart, and Shakespeare struggled for their passion. The result is that they’ve now been immortalised and that their art will remain priceless and unforgettable for thousands of years.
But if all of this sounds a bit glum and serious, it really needn’t. Living for your passion is also a lot more rewarding than working a regular 9-5. It’s more of a challenge, but it’s a challenge you feel much more motivated to do. You wake up every morning knowing your aim and knowing why it matters. You value yourself because you believe that what you’re doing truly matters. And everything you do is connected to that deep fire in the belly, that core of boiling coals that is your passion.
I may end up suffering for my stubbornness. If you ask me right now “Is it better to be poor and happy or rich and unhappy” I will say the former. Will I regret it? I could be a fool and say “no way”. The true answer is: Maybe. But hell, if I dedicated myself to money I could regret that too right?
At times I may wish I’d chosen an easier path. But I suspect that when it’s all said and done, I’ll look back on my life with pride and in a loud and clear Sanatra-style voice, I sing “I did it my way”.