I know what it’s like to be the poorest kid in class, to wear the same clothes every day, and to wonder if the car will start. No matter how many digits appear in my bank account, my heart will always be with those who grew up poor or are struggling.
My lifestyle is relatively modest. I fly premium economy rather than business class, I don’t own a car, Rolex, HDTV, or home. My life’s possession fit in a large suitcase, backpack, and day bag.
While money is great and you should go make as much as possible, there are ways to live a nice life even if you’re currently struggling.
Poverty is a mindset. You’re only as poor as other monkeys make you feel.
Did I grow up poor? It seemed that way. I was insecure about money and ashamed of where I lived. In hindsight that was a joke, as my world travels have educated and informed me.
Sure, my dad went through bouts of unemployment, we were on food stamps for a couple of years, we didn’t take vacations, and our car often wouldn’t start. But we had a large backyard, birthday parties, and when my dad was at work, we’d have pizza nights on Fridays. Our house was also full of love, which is something my encounters with the rich have shown me is far more precious and rare than money.
One night in Bangkok I walked to dinner. On my way to dinner a man without legs was dragging himself down the block. By the time I had walked several blocks to my dinner, ate (too much, like a fat pig), and returned home, the man had made it another block. That’s poor.
Children are sold into sexual slavery in Cambodia (Goldman Sachs sets up offices there to give pedophile executives access to children), and even in Vietnam women and children have few options other than to sell their bodies in various forms – either hard labor or sexual labor. That’s not merely poor. That’s a life few of us could comprehend – and if we could comprehend it we’d likely develop PTSD.
I was only poor by comparison to other American monkeys. When you look around at what others have, you focus on what you do not have.
As a kid I was poor because two pairs of blue jeans had to last me the entire year. As a successful author and lawyer, I have two pairs of jeans to last me the entire year. Sure, they are designer jeans, but I wear pretty much the same outfit every day – as anyone who has seen my Instagram can attest.
As a kid I was poor because the car wouldn’t start. As an adult, I don’t own a car.
Developing your mindset and spirit is free.
“I can’t afford to do x,” people commonly say. X sometimes means joining a gym, attending a mindset seminar, or eating healthy foods.
Do some push-ups. It’s free. I’ve met incredible people who are confined to wheel chairs. Oh no, you can’t afford to join a gym. Cry more. They wish they had your problems!
Meditation is free. Monks in Thailand live off of a few bowls of rice a day. Eat a bowl of rice (a few cents in the U.S.), find a quit place, and meditate.
Nothing and no one is stopping you from doing deep breathing exercises. “Breathe, man, it’s free!” – Wim Hof.
Reading is free. Go to a public library. There are more books to read than you have time on this earth to read.
Reading Danger & Play is free. It’s a point of personal honor that there will always be a free entry point to my work. No one will ever have to pay to receive my message. (Yes I want you to buy all of my books for yourself and extra copies to give as gifts. But if you are down-and-out, you will NEVER have to give me a penny to change your life. When you do change your life, though….)
Taking a walk is free. Again, I’ve met far too many people who can’t walk to have any sympathy for the lazy or, “I am fat cuz I can’t afford to join a gym” crowd. Cry more – to someone else!
Opening your body and heart to abundance is free.
Being kind is free. Studies have shown being nice to people makes us feel better about ourselves. Have you smiled at five different people today? Why not? It’s free.
Yes, go get rich. In the meantime, do not hate yourself for being poor.
How much money do you really need? I know what it’s like to roll up to exclusive clubs in the hottest cars, skipping long lines while people looked on wondering who I was. Does it feel good? Yes, I’m ashamed to say, it does.
It’s also an empty, hollow feeling. You’re around people on drugs who are smoking cigarettes and spilling drinks. And the types of people who can get you in those clubs are looking around non-stop to see if others are noticing them. That feeling of excitement turns to nausea as you realize that the people you’re looking at are a reflection of you and your own emptiness.
What sort of people are impressed by your clothing, cars, and access to VIP hosts? I can tell you. They are not deep, introspective, complex people. They are needy, desperate, narcissistic status whores. One day you’ll look around, judging the people around you, and then realize, “Wait. I’m in the same place doing the same things as these people. They are me. They are who I have become…”
Yes, get rich. Also get love.
How will you get more love in your life?
If I gave you $10,000 to rent a Lamborghini that you’d pull up to the hottest club in Vegas and Miami in, would you find love? (You’d find skanks, but Maxim-level girls are available to rent at $500 an hour. Skip the car and bottle service and time-sucks. Rent the girls directly.)
Will one-million dollars or one-million smiles get you more love in your life?
Yes, get rich. Remember to get strength of spirit.
How will you get more strength in your life?
Strength comes from within, and I’m talking about spiritual strength. I have used anabolic steroids while lifting in the most well-equipped gyms in the world. Big muscles never filled the void inside.
That black hole we seek to fill is where our spirit lies, and our spirits are undeveloped.
Do you want to talk about gym culture? Take a look at all those guys with “god like physiques.” Do you know how empty they feel inside? Have you ever seen the kind of women they date? Most fitness models date down, as they lack the spiritual strength and self-possession to date beautiful women. Hot women, after all, have options.
Fitness models fear aging, as they are one-dimensional men of the flesh. Lacking any sense of spirit, grew hairs symbolize lost youth rather than found wisdom.
Years ago I used to color my hair. Every three weeks I’d ritualistically apply Just for Men. Thinking back on that…I can only feel pity for that shell of a young man.
Yes, get rich. Get esoteric as well.
Did you know there’s an entire universe existing within your mind?
When is the last time you meditated, focused inward, and traveled to parallel dimensions?
I know, I know…God is dead. The reality you perceive with your eyes, ears, mouth, skin, and nose is all that exists.
What if that’s not true….
Money is great. Go make it. In the meantime, don’t fret over being poor.
I don’t play the game that rich men are winners and poor men are losers.
Is the father who works fewer hours while spending more time with his children a bad father? My dad was a broke-ass, but he coached little league baseball and spent weekends with us. He was also a huge goofball. In many ways he wasn’t made for this world, as he didn’t have the savvy to make money.
As a lawyer I saw many men who work 12-14 hour days 7 days a week, at the most prestigious law firms in the world. They don’t see their children. They are rich. Are they winners? Maybe we should ask their kids….
By many definitions I’m not rich enough.
Today I’ll get a clean shave, some Botox, maybe a facelift, color my hair, and put on a fresh suit.
Lets do a day-in-the-life video where I hop out of my sports car and into my private jet to meet my Wall Street billionaire clients.
Is an opulent lifestyle and endless pursuit for Hollywood youthful looks what it means to be rich? If that’s what richness is selling, then I’m not buying.
(I’d rather toss tennis balls at and teach tricks to my dog.)
Yes, I work hard and will keep earning a nice living doing what I love – writing books, writing at Danger & Play, raising hell on Twitter, and traveling the world and sharing my message.
You won’t see me taking a vow of poverty, but you also won’t see me chasing all these things money supposedly can buy.
Go make money. This is not an apologia for poverty!
I want you all to earn enough money to never have to worry about money. When you can’t afford quality healthcare, you’ll understand the value of a dollar.
That’s why there’s an entire chapter on money in Gorilla Mindset.
Keep money in perspective.
Money matters – a lot. Go make it while recognizing what it costs and what it can’t buy.
Do you know what also matters? Love, happiness, strength, kindness, generosity, and graciousness of spirit.
You don’t have to choose. You can make a good living while doing good deeds. I won’t feign false modesty. I earn a lot of money while changing lives and helping people.
But if you’re not there yet, if you’re money’s not right, remember what you can do.
Poverty is a tragedy when it becomes your mindset. The good news is your mindset is a choice.
Meditate, breath, be kind, smile at others, embrace human connection and kindness, open yourself up to the possibilities of the universe, give and receive love.
You might discover riches greater than you ever could have imagined.
By Mike Cernovich,
Author of Gorilla Mindset