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5 Life Lessons for Wealth and Happiness From Ben Franklin

Benjamin Franklin’s name embodies timeless wisdom for wealth and happiness. He  was an author, inventor, diplomat, and statesman. But he is known for the virtues of frugality, kindness and justice for all.

His wisdom lies in this profound belief that there is no substitute for hard work and frugality,  if you want to achieve wealth and happiness.

Men, otherwise of very good sense, have been drawn into this practice through an overweening desire of sudden wealth and an easy credulity of what they so earnestly wished might be true; while the rational and most certain methods of acquiring riches by industry and frugality are neglected or forgotten.  — Ben Franklin

An article is not enough to share wisdom of this enlightened man of the 18th century.

1. A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.  — Benjamin Franklin

It’s easy to get lost in the incessant desire to lock all of our thoughts into a “me” shell. Our desire for the more throws us into a never ending roller coaster ride of emotions of highs and lows in matter of a short time span.

Sadly enough, our attitude is always a loyal servant to our egotistical desires. When we do something for others, we give freedom to our thoughts. Our thoughts grow with the food of positivity that we feed by making difference in some-one’s life.

Life is an echo. What we do comes back to us. The more we give to others, the more we receive from the universe. Our attitude fires up with the higher self-worth and feeling of contentment that comes from within. The subtle yet the profound change begins to take place in our mind. We feel happy with enough and learn to let go our yearning for the more.

2. Content makes poor men rich; discontent makes rich men poor.  — benjamin Franklin

One of the myths of our society is that “more” will make us “happier”. We invest our life energy to possess lifeless possessions. We are educated to foster consumption with the mantra of –- “The more, the better.

We are educated to have a great job. A great job requires luxuries to fulfill our outlandish desire to impress others. Before we realize, we mortgage our freedom to the possessions that bring more sorrow and inner grief in a vain hope to show off to the masses.

Life of happiness and inner peace rests upon the virtue of simplicity. Our efforts in life should be directed towards saving our life energy and towards using our life energy that can bring eternal happiness to ourselves. Seldom our schools teach the value of living a simple life. Seldom our schools teach value of living within our means.

The recent sub prime mortgage crisis is an awakening lesson for all of us. It’s madness to chase goals of accumulating more possessions. We often find ourselves in same despair once we achieve our goal by the feelings of not possessing what others have. It’s an endless loop of self-pity. Life of contentment fills our hearts with eternal happiness.

3. He that can have patience can have what he will. — Benjamin Franklin

The sad truth is that our ever-sophisticated advertising industry has conditioned our mind to find happiness from consumption by spending our hard earned money on the possessions that never bring us lasting happiness. We spend our life-energy on those possessions that we seldom use.

We worry about making payments for a luxury car that sits in our garage collecting dust only for the right to brag about it in an occasional social gathering. Keeping up with the Joneses is the worst epidemic among those who should never contemplate that notion in the first place.

We are conditioned to spend money before we earn it. We are sold on the fake happiness of Buy now, pay later dearly” — It’s nothing more than buying possessions that we cannot afford. I have my share of insanity when it comes to mindless spending, but lately I try to pay for most of my purchases with cash. It creates awareness towards the impulse buy when I pay by cash.

I have also started red lining items on the credit card statement that I consider useless spending. All of these efforts have built my awareness towards my impulse purchases. I have been using mantra of — “less is more” to simplify every aspect of my life, and  to embrace minimalism. It’s a work in progress but the results are astounding.

4. I didn’t fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.  —  Benjamin Franklin

The irony of life lies in the fact that misfortunes strike the most cautious planners and the luckiest of gamblers. I’ve had more failures than successes in my life. ‘Failure’ is a label that we use to surrender our dreams with the feebleness of a lamb. In my life, despite countless setbacks, I have found that there’s always a lifeline to latch on to and to pull myself up with better and exciting opportunities that never existed in the past.

Our troubles can shape our character to have an iron will. Instead of asking yourself, “Why am I the only one to face these troubles?” ask, “How can I overcome these troubles?” The answer lies within you and that is a resounding “Yes!” because life always gets better if you have faith, patience and the iron will to accomplish whatever it is that you desire.

5.  Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.  — Benjamin Fraklin

We have a formidable foe who never leaves us. He’s there when we are awake and never sleeps when we are at sleep. He talks to us constantly. He tells us how we shall program our mind. In fact, he is the chief programmer of our mind, a Chief Technical Officer of our life. He’s the invisible devil who chatters with our mind. When we drive and if a car comes close, he’s chatting madness.

When we speak with a friend and if our friend disagrees with us, this devil chatters with our mind, “Hell with this guy, he is stupid.” He creates a fake reality in our mind about what we see and experience everyday. He’s in full control.

You can squash this devil if you learn to free up your mind. Listen to others when they speak intently, bury emotions that sprung out of the mental chatter with a smile. You’ll soon become the master of your invisible foe. Your upbeat attitude will squash any mental chatter that tend to bore negative attitude. You will soon become a better man.

Parting thoughts:  Wealth and happiness relate to our thoughts we choose to harbor, actions we commit ourselves to take, and the person we wanted to become. It’s about developing a ‘can do’ mind-set with an iron will and humble attitude. Ben Franklin was an epitome of a character who possessed true greatness. Do you agree?

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Comments (26)

Ha, #4 – resonates with Edison’s “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. ” – and I like both.

You are right, Alik. Edison had similar view about failures.

He was a very wise man and you have barely touched on all of the insight he taught us. Great points though. Patience is definitely something I have been working to cultivate more. Impatience does still sneak up on me but I am getting much better at pushing it aside.

I also try not to focus on failures like I used to. They aren’t a bad thing. We learn so much from them that we become better people. I used to think of them as a negative thing and I would get ashamed. Now I embrace the learning opportunity.

We indeed learn from failure and become better at whatever we do, Miss T. Failure also make me humble. It reminds me that I know nothing (Socrates).

I think Ben Franklin is tops on my list of people with whom I wish I could have dinner and wine.

I’d pay $1000 to have a dinner with someone of his caliber.

Great post Shilpan! I love Franklin and #2, 3, and 5 really resonate with me.

Thank you, Jason.

I purchase by credit card only because it gives me cash back. You have to be aware when you swipe your card. You cannot substitute your awareness with something else.

I believe in spending more if it gives me happiness. I figure out the way to make more money or extra money to purchase what I desire otherwise life is boring. I like buying new cloth, accessories like watches, like to buy toys for my kids, iPhones, ipads, like to go to movie theater, theme park. This is not to show anyone else but it gives me fun and enjoyment. I focus more on how to make more money and my spending awareness will take care of saving itself.

There is nothing wrong in making more money with the desire to spend and enjoy.

I’m extremely motivated person. I’ve built a very respectful networth, but deep in my heart, I am very simple. I think most lasting moments of happiness comes from simple acts of kindness, by spending time with someone who you care for or enjoying the nature. But, that’s just me.

Patience is good not to over react in bad situation but you also have to be an aggressive when there is an opportunity screaming.

I like to promote success and not failure. No shame if you fail but goal should always to succeeded.

Failure is a mother of success, my friend :)

Be aware of your mental chatters, a commentary. When you are aware, you create more distance between your chatters and that gives you power to focus, gives you real eyes to see things.

It’s not easy to be aware all the time, you have to shake all your laziness. You have to adopt discipline in life to put your mind in state of awareness.

It needs constant effort.

Money circulations is a blood of the economy. If everyone is frugal and saver than how the economy will grow. Instate why can’t we innovate in our filed of interest, make our self better every day, that bring more money in our profession. More money will give you power to purchase what you desire and not settle with less or compromise.

I believe leaving frugal is a caveman attitude, laziness, compromise, tiredness of going to work everyday and want to settle with less.

Instate why can’t we wake-up, create something new in your interest field, provide solutions to peoples problem, work hard than you don’t have to settle for less or compromise.

If everyone is frugal, you, your neighbor, your county, your state, your country, your company or corporation is economic sueside.

AJ, I respect your viewpoint, but spending doesn’t equate to happiness. And frugality is not an act of cowardice.

You have to be passionate about what you do. Constantly chasing money will make you work for money to pay bills. Also, no matter how smart you are, if you run into a tough period, you can potentially invite financial misery.

Everything is good in moderation.

Benjamin Franklin was one of my favorite examples to study many years ago. He was not only a very wise man, bit a very practical one as well. You stated some excellent Ben Franklin quotes, and your post is exceptional, Shilpan.

He was simply genius! Thank you for the kind words, Anthony.


Great post. Ben was truly ahead of his time, and spot on with many of the things he said.

Another one of his sayings that fits right in with your post is this one:

“An investment in knowlege always pays the best interest.”

Like the quotes in your post, that’s also just as true today as when he said it, over 200 years ago.

Agreed, Steve. I’ve used that quote in one of my blog posts. Thank you for mentioning it though. His wisdom, indeed, is as valid today as it was more than 200 years ago. Well said.

I think #1 should make sense to anyone who blogs. I’m not just looking out for me. I’m opening myself up for criticism, and sharing everything that I’m learning with my readers as well. I hope by “man”, he means “woman” too. 😉

Agreed. I think he addressed it to “men” only as women were not in work force in the 18th century. But, I am sure that his statement would include “women” in today’s context. :)

I absolutely love Ben Franklin. These are great lessons, and like the previous commenters said, he had so many more. His autobiography was a great read. I love how he exemplified that just because you have knowledge or wisdom does not mean you can’t back track…..life is a continual struggle to maintain virtue…it is not something that can be achieved and then left alone.

Aah! that’s a nice piece of wisdom on virtues. You can never inherit a virtue; it’s always earned. Thus, it needs constant nurturing.

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