Sunday School taught us that heaven was a place in the sky where people sat around, floating on clouds, playing harps. Hell was the flaming center of the earth, where the devil (with horns, a long tail, and carrying a pitchfork) lived, waiting for sinners.
As adults, we do not know if there is a heaven or a hell after death. There are heaven and hell here on earth, and one person’s heaven can be another person’s hell. A secure job with the government would be our father’s heaven, but Robert’s hell. Being an entrepreneur is Robert’s heaven. For our dad, having to become an entrepreneur at the age of fifty was his hell.
Marriage can be either a heaven or a hell. Even though we may deeply love someone, life together can be a living hell.
Money can be the reason for heaven or hell on earth. Many financial advisors recommend, "Live below your means." They say this because many people are barely surviving — in a living hell — using borrowed money to live a lifestyle they cannot afford. For others, heaven is having more than enough money to afford their lifestyle.
Since one’s heaven can be another person’s hell, the question is, what creates a person’s heaven or hell? While there are many possible answers, one answer is happiness . . . or the lack of it.
ROBERT: SELFISH AND UNSELFISH GOALS
As with so many things in life, for every action there is a reaction. If a person is unhappy, he may do something to make him happy, for example, like drink alcohol. Feeling low, he may go to a bar, drink a lot, and feel happy. The next day, he pays for his happiness with a hangover. Do this on a regular basis and that unhappy person becomes an alcoholic, still in search of happiness.
Others take chemical drugs to escape their pain and unhappiness. According to the Washington Post, today in America, more than one in every one hundred people are in jail, as many as 20 percent, for drug-related issues.
Being in jail is not my idea of heaven. Some people go shopping to relieve the pain. Money is their drug. The more money they have, the more they shop. Rather than finding heaven, they find hell, living under a mountain of credit card debt.
My drug of choice is food. When I am unhappy, I eat. While I’m eating, I feel happy. The problem is, the more I eat, the fatter I become. The fatter I become, the more unhappy I get, so I eat more, become fatter, and become even more unhappy. In my attempt to reach heaven through food, I wind up in hell. Many people seek to solve their unhappiness through religion. Many have so many problems they feel they cannot solve them, and they seek salvation by hoping God will save them from their hell here on earth.
So what is happiness?
I am sure this question will be asked through the ages. And I doubt there is one answer for all people. Like heaven and hell, one person’s happiness can be another person’s unhappiness, which is why I’m not attempting to tell you what to do to find your happiness. I have enough trouble finding and hanging onto my own true happiness.
One important lesson I learned from Dr. Fuller was the idea of having "unselfish goals." In other words, goals that follow the generalized principle of "the more people I serve, the more effective I become." This idea fit my mother and father’s values of being of service to their community. In December of 1984, when Kim and I took our leap of faith, we took the leap with unselfish goals in mind. As I have already said, it was the worst year of our lives.
It was not a happy time.
Today, Kim and I have found happiness by having selfish as well as unselfish goals. Our happiness comes from being of service, feeling that our work makes a difference in people’s lives, and that we are contributing to solving some of our world’s current problems. We also have selfish goals, goals such as making enough money to create a standard of living that suits us. We would not be happy being poor, working at a job we did not love, working with people we did not like, living below our means in a dangerous neighborhood, not being able to afford health care or the finer things of life.
Work is an important aspect of happiness and unhappiness. Even though our work is often challenging and filled with problems, ultimately our work makes us happy. We realize that, for millions of people, their work makes them unhappy. For millions, work is just about money.
I have a classmate from high school who is very unhappy. Right out of college, she met a rich man, married him, and moved to his large home in Aspen, Colorado. Her husband inherited his wealth and has never really had to work. They have great kids and grandkids. Her days are filled tending to her show horses and doing charity work. Her husband spends his time at his club, putting on events to keep the members happy.
When I asked her why she was unhappy, her answer was simple: "Life seems empty."
When I asked her if her grandkids filled her void she said, "No. I love my kids and grandkids, but I am through with motherhood." When I asked about her charity work, she said frankly, "I do charity work to belong to the right social circles. Charity work is my access to the right charity balls and to be seen with the right people. I know the charities are important, but I am not passionate about the causes."
When I asked her what her soul wanted her to do, she snapped at me and said, "I’m doing enough. I’m good to my kids. I’m a good parent. I’m a good wife. I donate time and money to my charities. What else do you want me to do?"
Our conversation was over. It wasn’t the time to get into the differences between selfish and unselfish goals.
One of the most valuable lessons I learned from my mom and dad was the answer to my question, "What is happiness?" The happiest days in their lives were the days they both worked for President Kennedy’s Peace Corps. Dad took a break from the education department, and he and Mom spent their days, nights, and weekends working side by side at the Peace Corps training center in Hilo, preparing young people to be of service to the world. As a young man preparing to go to war, I saw the happiness that working together at spiritual work brought my mom and dad. I never forgot that happiness.
When Kim and I took our leap of faith in December of 1984, we were in search of the same happiness. The day we were married, in 1986, we didn’t have much money and could not afford a band. Instead we handed out the words to "The Wedding Song" (also known as "There Is Love") by Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul, and Mary. We asked everyone to link arms and sing along with the music. The song conveyed to everyone in the circle the spiritual reason for our marriage, which spread from heart to heart. The following are a few words from this very beautiful song:
Well, a man shall leave his mother
and a woman leave her home
and they shall travel on to where
The two shall be as one.
As it was in the beginning
is now and till the end
woman draws her life from man
and gives it back again.
and there is love, and there is love.
Well then what’s to be the reason
for becoming man and wife?
Is it love that brings you here
or love that brings you life?
And if loving is the answer,
then who’s the giving for?
Do you believe in something
that you’ve never seen before?
Oh there is love, there is love.
Kim has been the greatest blessing in my life. We have been together virtually 24/7 since December of 1984. We have been apart only a few days in all those years. Our work nurtures our souls. Our work gives us life. Our work is our life.
Like most couples, we do have our rough spots. It is not always peaches and cream. It’s not always wedded bliss or the fairy tale of living happily ever after. Through our work we share our love and our reason for being married. While we receive many blessings from our work, we believe the gift of true happiness is the greatest gift, a blessing that brings magic to life.
There are many people who believe the rich are greedy, and many of them are.Yet, I have met many greedy poor and middle-class people. They are simply greedy people with less money. The rich do not have an exclusive domain over greed.
When we were married, Kim and I co-created selfish and unselfish goals. We set four financial goals, and those goals became the four stepping-stones to guide us through the stream of life:
• The first stepping-stone was to build a business that served as many people as possible. We wanted to serve people regardless of their wealth (or lack of it), race, or religion.
• The second stepping-stone was to invest our money to be of service. The majority of our investment money is in apartment houses. We provide safe, well-managed, affordable housing to thousands of people.
• The third stepping-stone of our finances was to tithe, or give money back. Even when we had very little money, we donated to charitable causes that spoke to our hearts. We do not give money directly to people in need. Instead we give money to responsible organizations that have a proven track record of sound money management.
• The fourth stepping-stone was our personal standard of living. Even though we had nothing when we were married, we still wanted to live financially free, at a rich and wealthy standard of living.
All four goals required hard work, miles of travel, a lot of study, and often a good bit of disappointment. From the generalized principle of precession, which is the ripple effect, came the gift of true happiness in our lives.
Today, we have more money than we could ever spend. We have more than we need. This is why today we are focusing more and more on giving the money back, just as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are doing. Giving money back can be a full-time job. Just as making and investing money creates unique challenges, giving money back comes with its own set of challenges. There is an art and science to charitable giving. Again, rather than give the money to the needy and the poor, which would deplete the money supply, we are diligent in finding responsible, well-managed organizations that will protect our wealth and will use the money wisely for years, long after we are gone.
Kim and I believe in working to create heaven on earth — while we are here and after we have left this earth. We find happiness working together in our life’s work, just as working together for the Peace Corps brought true happiness for my mom and dad. Finding happiness by doing our spirit’s work is the best gift Mom and Dad have
given their children.
This is not to say that our work is uniquely significant, special, or that important. Any work that adds value and is of service to life is important and special. For example, the person who drives a school bus has a very important and special task. I am glad there are people who want to do this job, and I would hope they love what they do.
I especially like comedians, because laughter is vital to a world that so often takes itself too seriously. The gift of laughter is a very important gift.
So what is your gift? When I am asked about how to find one’s gift, I simply reply, "If you had all the money in the world, what would you do for the rest of your life? What would make your heart sing?" I also say, "One of the reasons a person does not give or use their gift is because they have been trained to go to school and get a job to earn money. So the question is, What would you do if you did not have to worry about money?"
In 1994, Kim and I had the luxury of retiring. She was thirty-seven and I was forty-seven. I thought retirement would be heaven. Instead it turned out to be hell. All I did was play golf, and if you’ve seen my golf game you would know why, for me, golf is the game from hell. In 1996 Kim and I developed our CASHFLOW® board game, I wrote Rich Dad Poor Dad, and we got back to work. Our objectives remain the same. We believe that too many people are slaves to money, and one way to financial freedom is via financial education. Our wish is to have you become financially free so you can give more of your God-given gifts and do the work you were born to do.
One of the greatest joys of our work is to have people like you read our work, even if you do not agree with everything we write. I know the world is filled with people with great ideas, great stories to tell, and great gifts to give.
The above is an excerpt from the book Rich Brother Rich Sister: Two Different Paths to God, Money and Happiness, by Emi Kiyosaki & Robert Kiyosaki (Published by Vanguard Press; 978-159315-493-6).
Copyright © 2008 Emi Kiyosaki and Robert Kiyosaki
Robert Kiyosaki, co-author of Rich Brother Rich Sister: Two Different Paths to God, Money and Happiness (Published by Vanguard Press; 978-159315-493-6), is a fourth-generation Japanese American, born and raised in Hawaii. After graduating from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in New York, Robert joined the Marine Corps and served in Vietnam as an officer and helicopter gunship pilot. Following the war, Robert went to work in sales for the Xerox Corporation and, in 1977, started a company that brought the first nylon and Velcro “surfer” wallets to market. He founded an international education company in 1985 that taught business and investing to tens of thousands of students throughout the world. In 1994 Robert sold his business and, through his investments, was able to retire at the age of 47. During his short-lived retirement, he wrote the international best-selling book Rich Dad Poor Dad, and in 2006 coauthored
with Donald Trump Why We Want You To Be Rich. An entrepreneur, teacher, and investor, Robert also writes a monthly column, "Why the Rich Are Getting Richer," for Yahoo! Finance, and a monthly column, "Rich Returns," for Entrepreneur magazine.
Barbara Emi Kiyosaki, co-author of Rich Brother Rich Sister: Two Different Paths to God, Money and Happiness (Published by Vanguard Press; 978-159315-493-6), grew up in Hawaii with Robert and the Kiyosaki family. While Robert took the path of war during the Vietnam era, Emi took the path of peace, exploring alternative and spiritual journeys. Emi began her studies at the University of Hawaii and then traveled to Colorado, Alaska, and India to deepen her studies and practice of Buddhism. Emi was ordained by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1985 and today is known by her ordination name, Bhikshuni Tenzin Kacho. For six years, Tenzin was the Buddhist chaplain at the United States Air Force Academy. She has a Master of Arts degree in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan Language from Naropa University. She is the assistant spiritual director and teacher at Thubten Dhargye Ling Buddhist Center in Long Beach, California, and is a visiting teacher at Thubten Shedrup Ling in Colorado Springs. She occasionally resides at Geden Choling Nunnery in northern India. Tenzin also works as a hospice chaplain in Los Angeles, California.