Ray Dalio is worth over $17 billion dollars.
If anybody knows about the power and importance of money, it’s Dalio. He has more of it than nearly everybody else on the planet.
And yet even Dalio says that money does not buy happiness.
Dalio is clear about this point in his new book Principles, saying, “Having spent time with some of the richest, most powerful, most admired people in the world, as well as some of the poorest, most disadvantaged people in the most obscure corners of the globe, I can assure you that, beyond a basic level, there is no correlation between happiness levels and conventional markers of success.”
In fact, he says that “even the richest people feel short of the money they need to do the things they want to do.”
The reality is that chasing money is an unfulfilling end goal, and it has no finish line.
It would be one thing to hear that from someone who doesn’t have much, but when someone in Dalio’s position says it, we should listen.
If money does not create happiness, then what does?
“The happiest people discover their own nature and match their life to it,” according to Dalio.
For him, the goal was never about making money. “Meaningful work and meaningful relationships were and still are my primary goals and everything I did was for them,” he says. “Making money was an incidental consequence of that.”
His definition of meaningful work is being on a mission he becomes engrossed in, and meaningful relationships are those he has with people he cares deeply about and who care deeply about him.
That it’s – meaningful work and meaningful relationships are all he’s ever chased. Or, to put it more simply, if you would have asked him what his objective was when he started out, he would have said, “To have fun working with people I like.” And of course he loves playing the markets – something he’s done since he was 12 years old and will keep doing until he dies.
Ultimately, life and happiness boils down to finding the right fit for you.
It is essential to know your own nature and operate consistently with it. And that should feel freeing, not limiting.
According to Dalio, “Whatever your nature is, there are many paths that will suit you, so don’t fixate on just one. Should a particular path close, all you have to do is find another good one consistent with what you’re like.”
You might know in your heart what that looks like for you, but if not, you can gain some self-awareness by taking the personality and workplace assessments that Bridgewater administers to all of its employees, including:
Knowing more about yourself will enable you to choose fit over money.
The number one regret of the dying is “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
Money won’t mean much if you aren’t living a life that is in line with what you want. And making money in a way that conflicts with your personality or values will just make you feel trapped.
To live a truly fulfilling and happy life, Dalio says what you really need is “the courage to be true to your truest self, no matter what other people want you to be.”