For as long as modern capitalism has been around, and certainly since we’ve been inundated with TV shows and movies that offer a glimpse into that world, we’ve been infatuated with the lifestyles of the rich and famous. For the most part, these types of stories have typically centered around the United States and the American Dream. But that’s expanding.
Kevin Kwan’s book, Crazy Rich Asians, was both a critical and commercial success, but it was really when the movie came out that its story became a pop culture phenomenon. We’ve already seen what it meant to be rich in America. To some degree, we’ve also been exposed to what it means to be a rich oligarch from Russia or an oil baron from Dubai. But the story of the rich families of Singapore has gone largely unexplored by mainstream western culture. Until this movie.
Today’s blog post isn’t really about Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan, or Singapore. At least not directly. Instead, it’s really much more about mindset and how you think about wealth.
Money Doesn’t Make You Rich
I know. This sounds a little counter-intuitive, so let me explain. In the second book in the series, China Rich Girlfriend, we are introduced to the term HENRY. I’m not entirely sure if this is a legit term that gets bandied about in those circles or it’s something that Kevin Kwan created on its own. Either way, it serves as an important lesson and reminder.
The context is that we see people going around buying high end brands of clothing, handbags and other fashion items. One of the character remarks that these people must be rich if they can go around with their fancy fashion like that, to which another character responds that they’re just HENRYs.
HENRY stands for “High Earners, Not Rich Yet.” This is a demographic of individuals in society who have good paying jobs. They might drive Audis or BMWs or Teslas. They might wear high fashion. But they’re “just” high earners, so they’re still relatively new to money and it could all fizzle out tomorrow. They could be making six figures today, but that could implode into zero tomorrow.
They’re trying to look rich, but they’re not actually rich.
Rich People Don’t Obsess Over Money
If money, in and of itself, doesn’t make you rich, then what does? A very common misconception that the average middle class citizen has about rich people is that the latter are constantly obsessing about money. It’s all they think about, always looking for another way to turn a buck. And while there are certainly some wealthy individuals with that kind of mindset, you’d be surprised how many don’t think that way.
When you’ve got an abundance of something, and you’re confident that you can always get more of it, then you start to take it for granted and you don’t think about it as much anymore. Do you worry about finding enough air to breathe? Probably not, because you’re constantly surrounded by it and you never think you’ll run out of it.
When you are legitimately wealthy, beyond the wildest dreams of most individuals, you might start to think about money in the same way. Or rather, you might stop thinking about money. If you want something, you just get it. That’s power. And that’s how, while money itself cannot buy happiness, it can buy you the freedom to no longer have to worry about money.
Money is just a tool.
HENRY Isn’t Enough
If the only reason why you’re aspiring to strike it rich is just so that you can look rich, you’re missing the point entirely. Don’t get me wrong. I like fast cars, fancy vacations and luxurious mansions as much as the next hopeful. But if you really want to get past the state of HENRY and become truly wealthy, you need to start thinking about money in an entirely different kind of way.
Money is a means to an end. Money is what will provide you with the freedom, both practically and intellectually, to really focus on the things that matter in your life… and not just how other people perceive you.