Key to happiness in enrichment, not within gold

By Colleen Thorpe

Relax and Grow Rich
by Mike Hutcheson and Claire Wadey, HarperCollins, $34.99
At first glance I thought I was going to grow rich, in the money sense. But this is more important than money, this is about me. About enriching my life.
Authors Mike Hutcheson and Claire Wadey have written Relax and Grow Rich in a bid to help people live a successful, satisfying and sustaining life.
It's not about how rich you want to be, they say, it's about how you want to be rich.
The ultimate goal of this book is to help people be as happy as they can be. And, according to the authors, this can be achieved by relaxing and developing ideas - providing a pathway to realising our true potential.
The book is divided into eight chapters, from ground work to relaxation and creativity and finally, the conclusion.
It's not a book to take to bed and read and some of it can be hard going but with simple examples throughout it all makes sense.
Getting to know ourselves

We can't all have visions or divine revelations to gain insights into our inner consciousness, but there is a simple method that we can practise to get to know ourselves. All that is required is an honest answer to each of three questions.
What don't we like doing? What do we want out of life? When are we at our best?
We are very lucky if we know exactly what we want to do with our lives.
There are so many possibilities that it's easier sometimes to eliminate the things that turn us off; people, places and situations that make us feel uncomfortable - the things and situations that repel us - than it is to be clear about what we do like and want.

If we try on lots of coats, we'll eventually find one that fits.
In a complex world of countless opportunities, we can narrow our choices and get "in the zone" by setting aside the things we dislike or detest. For example, we may hate crowds or noisy situations. We may dislike "loud and aggressive persons" or have an aversion to enclosed spaces and working indoors. Conversely, we may love being around boisterous people and get lonely working or living in isolation. We may love sedentary things and hate action; we may love words but hate numbers; we may love order and hate chaos or vice versa; we may hate filling in cheque butts and bureaucratic forms; we may love music and art and hate business.
Whatever it is, we need to think about it. If we examine preferences in our heart of hearts, the answer will become clear. We should then write our thoughts down. Nothing makes ideas more real than seeing them on paper.
Once we have eliminated what we don't want or don't like, by deduction we will have identified a zone that we are happy in.
What do we want out of life?
This will undoubtedly change at different ages and stages. When we're younger we want income; when we're older and have acquired enough material things we want wealth to sustain us in our dotage. We get to a point in our lives when we don't want any more "things"; we may want newer ones, but we don't need any extras.
We may want self-centred, hedonistic things like money, power and fame, or we may want more altruistic things; a chance to do our bit to save the planet, help others or plant trees. Or is it a combination of these things that are at the top of our lists? Once again we should record those that are top-of-mind, the things that immediately pop into our heads without too much thought. Put them on paper.
When are we at our best?
We need to be in touch with our biological clocks - our circadian rhythms - as well as our social preferences. Are we fowls or owls - in other words, are we at our best in the morning or at night? Are we indifferent to the time of day? Are we happiest in the city or in the country, on a mountain or at the beach, in rural France or bustling New York? Do we work best in isolation - autonomously - or collectively, as in a team? If we like working in teams, what kind of teams?
Relay teams where we run a leg on our own then pass on the baton? Or football or basketball teams where we act in concert with others?

Again, write your preferences down.

The answers to the three questions - what we like doing, what we want out of life, and when are we at our best - will give us a framework of preferences, enabling decisions that will satisfy our inner aspirations.
Spot it, you've got it
Unless we suffer from some misanthropic disorder, the vast majority of us want meaningful relationships with friends, family and lovers.
We place great store in close relationships, and it is their importance to us that motivates our need for interaction. We devote huge amounts of time, resource and energy to find, develop and maintain the ties of friendship.
Ironically, a way of identifying what we're really like and how others see us is through the notion of "spot it, you've got it". The things we see as weaknesses or shortcomings in others are an almost foolproof indicator of our own vulnerability; the characteristics that we are short on ourselves.
We can spot them in others because they are so familiar to us. We should take great care in denying our own faults or guilt: it can often be hypocrisy, shielding our own weakness. As Queen Gertrude in Hamlet tartly observes: "The lady doth protest too much."
From Relax and Grow Rich, by Mike Hutcheson and Claire Wadey, HarperCollins, RRP $34.99

- Bay of Plenty Times

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