WHEN I was much younger, I would often compare my level of success with that of my friends, people I knew, or even with my heroes and role models in life.
I am embarrassed to admit it today, but it is the truth. I would compare how much money I was making, how happy I was, how much my net worth was, how prestigious my job was, how fast I was progressing, etc. It brought me nothing but misery.
You see, I have learned that what others are doing in life has absolutely nothing to do with your happiness. True happiness comes from unleashing your greatness in life by doing what you love with people you love. It is evolving into the best version of yourself.
Each person has a different destiny. We are all on different paths. We all have our unique gifts, talents and opportunities. And we are all alone in the quest for our truths.
Happiness stems from living an authentic life that truly ignites your soul. Everything else is meaningless. Happiness cannot be measured by bank accounts, big houses or fancy cars.
Happiness comes from within, not without. And the greatest happiness is when we help our loved ones, friends, communities, countries and world.
You see, happiness is true wealth. We are here on Earth for a limited time. Let us strive to fill each others’ lives with happiness. In doing so, we will have happiness ourselves.
The irony is that when you seek happiness by helping others, you will also achieve wealth in more ways than one. In economic terms, the secret to wealth is simply to add value to as many lives as possible.
If you chase how you can genuinely help people, you will make money (by virtue of adding value to the lives of others) and you will be happy with who you are.
If you chase only money, you will never be happy with who you are (and there is a possibility that you will never make money). The driving force in life can never be money. The driving force must be to help others. Money is a by-product of adding value to the world.
The more value you add to the world, the more money you will make. Of course, you must be genuine and authentic in your intentions. People can feel authenticity, and the truth is that authenticity is the key to your personal happiness; and your happiness is the key to your success.
When your mind, body, and soul are aligned with who you really are, you will be happiest and most successful.
Be a master to money. Don’t be a slave to money.
As someone who has experienced both poverty and wealth, I know that money is important, but it is not everything.
You see, too many people fall under the spell of money and are slaves to it. If you are a slave to money, you will do anything for it even if it means losing yourself, your integrity and your character.
If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. However, if you are a master to money, you will not sacrifice yourself, your integrity, or your character for the sake of money. I have been fortunate to escape poverty; I still vividly remember the days when my mom and I ate $1.50 microwave meals every day and slept on the floor in sleeping bags when we lived in California.
More important than my wealth today though is that I am happy with the person I see in the mirror. I have lived life on my terms, and I have never sacrificed who I was for the sake of money.
For me, money is now a way to change the world. Bar none, Evolve MMA, one of my companies, has the highest pay scale in the world for the martial arts industry. Many of our top instructors at Evolve earn up to US$15,000 a month (or US$180,000 a year). The same goes for the rest of our top staff. When people ask me why I choose to pay the highest rate in the world, my answer is simple. They deserve it.
I have not forgotten my past. Not only are they the hardest working team on the planet, but the vast majority of the team at EVOLVE comes from humble backgrounds of poverty, adversity, and tragedy. Most of them were never afforded the opportunity of education. (Of course, I could choose to pay salaries as low as possible like many martial arts schools do, but I believe in expressing my gratitude through my actions).
For everyone on the team, Evolve is the single greatest opportunity to escape poverty and to achieve the life of their dreams. I am thankful that they have entrusted me with their lives, their futures, and their dreams.
Entrepreneurship has given me the wonderful opportunity to change the world in a way that reflects my values and who I am. As Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”.
Chatri Sityodtong is the founder and group CEO of ONE Championship. He is a former New York-based hedge fund manager with over 30 years of martial arts experience as a student, fighter and coach.