When I first met Tony, he was a man with no regrets.
And he was dying.
Tony was a successful businessman who had everything. A few years before I met Tony, he had an epiphany. He found that although he was good at the business of making money, he was miserable. The only joy he felt was when he was around a community of people. Being around people, helping them, and being a part of their lives was what made him happy.
Tony decided to invest in people instead of business. Tony quit his job and dedicated his life to people who needed him. He took care of others. He listened as people came to him in confidence with their troubles. He loved and made others feel important. He was a known figure in his community, and he opened his heart to everyone he met. Tony’s generous nature and his love for people became his wealth.
Then Tony got diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and was given a terminal diagnosis. That’s when I came into his life. I was his hospice nurse.
As he lay in bed in pain, he focused not on how unfair life had been to him, but on the people who meant the most to him. People gathered around to comfort him in his final days.
Tony gave of himself until the very end.
On the day that Tony passed, I walked into a room crowded with people, gathering around his bed. They reached out to give back to him as he was leaving this world. They supported him with their love and compassion as he took his last breaths. Everyone had a positive story to tell about Tony; they worshipped him. Tony may not have been a monetarily wealthy man at the end, but he made himself rich through the love of everyone who knew him.
These are the lessons I learned from Tony:
Don’t take life for granted, and be thankful for everything you have in your life. The best way to do this is to take some time every day and write down or say out loud, listing all the things for which you are grateful. It’s essential to take this extra step, instead of just thinking it. Writing or voicing your thoughts out loud gives a tangibility to your gratitude.
There’s one thing I saw with Tony and his interactions with people; not only did they love him, but they also respected him. He didn’t earn their respect by browbeating, controlling, arguing, or trying to convince them of his truth. Instead, he showed respect for everyone he met, regardless of their thoughts, viewpoints, and backgrounds. He accepted them and loved them regardless of their differences. He found everyone as a unique individual, and he thrived off the differences and yet the sameness of the human race.
A creative mind
To make something beautiful out of nothing, to give the world a piece of you in the form of art, is your gift, which needs time and focus. Be prolific with your art. Let it cultivate inside you and express it to the world — this is a richness you can never get from money. Own your creativity, don’t downplay it. Give it life. Make it part of who you are and share it with the world. Your inspiration will change people’s lives.
Tony’s creative superpower was to bring out the joy in others. He had a way of livening up the room. He could make you smile as you walked through the door to greet him. He encouraged people to laugh and enjoy life, and that’s a great gift to share.
Something changed in Tony’s heart that made him turn away from the material and towards selfless concern for the well-being of others. If I were able to ask him if he regretted turning away from his money-making business, and instead towards devoting his life to people, he would say he had no regrets. To him, money was a tool, but it wasn’t what life was all about. Love, joy, and compassion were the most important things in his life.
Although Tony chose to give up one for the other, I don’t believe this is a mainstream path. People shouldn’t stop supporting themselves with a job. However, having selfless concern for the well-being of others is the best way to experience a rich quality of life, both material and spiritual.
Living the daily grind of working and making money isn’t the only way to get rich. Working towards a purpose that inspires you and stokes your passion, regardless of the financial rewards, is the best way to create abundance.
If you are leading a life that isn’t fulfilling you, then look towards finding your purpose in life. It’s okay if you don’t know. Explore those things that interest and drive you. You’ll find it if you look for it.
Everything grows, including you
Look back five, ten years ago, and see how you’ve changed. Your relationships have matured. Old friends may have fallen away, and new ones have come into your life. You may have different interests. You may even have finished school, changed jobs, gotten married, or divorced. Someone close to you may have died, or you have welcomed a new person into the world.
Even if right now you’re in the middle of the chaos for any reason, you can still see some growth. Both the positive and the negative things that happen in life will force you to grow and evolve. Take into consideration that everything which has come into your life has put you right here where you are. Take advantage of the knowledge you’ve gained from your past experiences and use them to grow yourself.
Yes, we need money to live. Yet, other things in life will make you rich beyond money. If we could all be a little more like Tony and find our passion in things that don’t require money, we can also lead an abundant life.