Five Ancient Principles for Building Massive Wealth

Whether you've known it or not, we've secretly been chatting about an ancient philosophy since The Hidden Green's first article.

It was followed by Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Epictetus, and many other badass Greek and Roman leaders and scholars. 

And now, unknowingly, it's being followed by you. 

This ancient philosophy is called, Stoicism.

Stoicism is a practical philosophy, or way of life, that believes that happiness is found within the life we have been given, not in being controlled by the desire for pleasure, or fear or pain.

This 2,000+ year old kick ass philosophy is insanely applicable to living an epic life today, and is something I have followed closely for the last few years. 

I thought I'd share five core principles that, if followed, will ensure you a life of massive wealth and happiness, no matter what is thrown your way.

Let's get started!

1. Don't Fall Prey to Society's Hedonistic Treadmill

I have a good friend who, it seems, each time I see has new designer clothing, the latest tech gadget or the hottest new toy.

When we chat he complains about going in to work Monday through Friday and fiends for the next generation of iWhatever and its newest app.

Though my friend and many like him are great people, I've found that people that look luxury are often unconsciously chained down by luxury.

With each new item they get their fleeting emotional gain or pleasure fix. But as the days pass the excitement of the purchase wears off and they are left looking for the next thing to fill the void — also known as the hedonic treadmill.

How do you beat it? You recognize what Stoicism tells us, that happiness does not stem from material items or the act of spending money. And neither does wealth.

You live knowing happiness comes from that place within that finds joy in the exertion of energy, fun in the craftsmanship of creation and love in the presence of time. Wealth follows.

"It is not the man who has too little that is poor, but the one who hankers after more." —Seneca

2. Negative Visualization

If you knew the insanely optimistic Ryland in college, you'd be hard pressed to believe that I am now practicing the art of Negative Visualization. Well crazy enough, my good friends, it's true.

Here's how it works. Each day when I wake I roll my fingers about waking up my hands. As I do that I stop completely to visualize what my life would be like if I completely lost my fingers.

I imagine how hard I'd have to work to relearn how to cook my food, build things with my hands and write for the this blog. But in the end, though I wouldn't have the function of my fingers, I'd still be alive and could very damn well be happy again. 

At that moment, I roll my fingers about again and think, "Hell yeah, I am so damn lucky to have things four fingers and that beautiful opposable thumb!"

In doing this I learn to appreciate the amazingness in my everyday life, and, if I ever lose the functioning of my fingers, I am more prepared to take on that challenge.

The ancient Stoics encouraged this type of negative visualization to be done with thoughts of illness, a loss of a loved one, a misfortune, etc.

By imagining the worst case scenario and feeling grateful that it doesn't exist, you will find yourself appreciating the magical, often overlooked, parts of life and prepare yourself for less emotional hardship if it does occur.

"In the very act of kissing your child, silently reflect on the possibility that she could die tomorrow." —Epictetus

3. Don't Allow What You Can't Control Control You

At times during my day I find myself getting stressed or anxious about a future deadline, a past email I flubbed or a crazy article in the national news.

When these occurrences happen, I ask myself, "Is this something I can control?" After a quick thought, often times, I find that they are outside of my control.

When I internalize that what happened is outside of my control my stress fades away. It couldn't be any different. So why should I lose the beauty of my day to unfounded stress and anxiety? 

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I am not saying turn off all news and walk about aloof to the macro changes in government and society. Not at all.

But what I am saying is that there are infinite things happening outside our personal reach each and every day. If you allow these happenings to burrow under your skin and stir up your anxiety, stress, and fear, you will be a slave to mankind's illusion of control.

If you are propelled to act, act. If not, let the stress of what you can't control fade away and continue benefitting the world through what you can control.

You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” – Marcus Aurelius

4. Practice Voluntary Discomfort

During the last 3.5 years of work, I saved $40,000 by riding my bike 7 miles back and forth to work each and every day.

When it rained I threw on a old wetsuit top with a Hawaiian-T and hopped on my bike. When it was 45 degrees out, I threw on my snow jacket and gloves and, again, hopped on my bike.

There were plenty of moments that at first thought I didn't want to hop on and ride. But when I got to work damn did I appreciate the roof over my head and my dry clothes.

My new founded gratefulness was especially apparent in the mornings when, way too often, my desk mates were bummed out and complaining about how they had just been stuck sitting in their comfy heat powered, leather seated cars. 

What I did biking to work may be a bit crazy for some, or not crazy enough for others. Either way, practicing voluntary discomfort can be as simple as going without sugar for two weeks, sleeping under the stars on the back porch rather than in your comfy bed or biking part way to work each morning.

Choosing the harder path expands your comfort zone, in turn encouraging you to appreciate the wealth of life itself.

As the Stoic's believed, nature itself tells us how to live. It is for us to integrate in amongst its lead.

“The more pleasures a man captures, the more masters he will have to serve” —Seneca

5. You Are an Individual, Yet Unranked Citizen of the World

I love this one. The Stoics believed greatly in community and the act of being social beings.

At my old job there were janitors I'd see every day cleaning the facilities. Many of my coworkers (though they countless were nice people) would pass them by each day without a "Hello" or a "Thank you" even though we'd see these janitorial workers every day and they did a great job.

When I crossed paths with them, I'd make sure to at least give a kind smile and a "Hello." On my last week of work, I even went out and ate lunch with one of them. It was a blast.

As the Stoics believed, external differences, such as social rank, wealth or title should hold no importance in your social relationships.

What I've found is that by viewing the people in your social life as equals you will be surprised at how good you feel by giving to others and, even more surprised by who and how much other's actually give to you. 

"Kindly remember that he whom you call your slave sprang from the same stock, is smiled upon by the same skies, and on equal terms with yourself that breathes, lives and dies." —Seneca

6. Don't Preach, Simply Practice Your Philosophy

Dare I say more. ;)

If you take even just a few of these with you in your day to day life, you'll find a greater appreciation for living, an increase in true happiness and a massive increase in your wealth.

Thanks for reading, share this with a friend on Facebook or Twitter if you think they'd like it and keep unleashing that hidden green!

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