A Silver Walk

The richest people in the world

I worked with Richard Branson. He’s pretty rich. In fact, he’s very rich and quite pretty. But take Richard, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and any number of billionaires – I know two people, richer than all of them put together and by a measure in the grasp of us all.

Sol’s an old friend, Andy a fellow Toastmaster – I think they’re two of the richest people in the world – in our greatest desire – happiness.

They taught me three essential ingredients for happiness – being grateful, always moving forwards and being loved and accepted.

Sol came from Bialystok, Poland. in 1940, Sol, his entire family and everyone he knew, were taken by the Nazis – to Auschwitz.

After one day – Sol was the only one left alive.

He was in Auschwitz for five long years.

I met Sol here in New Zealand – he was always – and I mean always smiling.

I asked him about it, and he said, “when I wake each day and realise, I’m alive, I’m safe, and I’m in paradise, I smile with thanks for those gifts for one more day”.

And there’s Andy. When just 20, Andy got strep throat – the infection spread to and ruined his kidneys. By aged 62 he’d had three transplants and been on dialysis for 27 years. Two kidneys and his first marriage, failed. His last transplant kept working.

In the meantime, Andy got cancer and had some hard years of chemo.

Then he had a stroke which, for a while robbed him of movement and speech.

Worst of all, in a terrible accident Andy lost his precious daughter, Tash.

Yet, in his own beautiful, spiritual way, Andy smiled his way through life.

The common thread that links Sol and Andy are those three ingredients for happiness – being grateful, always moving forwards and being loved and accepted.

Sol smiled all the time for the blessings of being alive, safe and here.

Andy lived, in his words, “an attitude of gratitude” – helping people with relationships in his work.

And they were always moving forwards – never stuck in the past.

If they looked backwards, imagine what they’d see – the unspeakable horrors of Auschwitz – the pain and suffering of illness and loss.

And they were loved and accepted cos they gave love – Sol with the warmth of his smile, Andy through his work.

I can’t say if Sol and Andy found happiness – I can say, they spread it in abundance.

For they shared an incredible secret – the word ‘now’.

They knew happiness exists at just one time – now.

I try to always appreciate what I have right now.

I’ve known moments of great joy – my grand-daughter Mika saying “I yuv u papa”; my first hole in one; my second hole in one – and many more.

See – they’re all ‘moments. Happiness can’t be a permanent state of nature – for Sol and Andy, it was a permanent ‘state of mind’.

I’ve had highs and lows, triumphs and tragedies, magic moments and hard times.

But past wins, possessions, even pleasant memories can’t make me truly happy.

When I think of what I have now, most importantly, my relationships and realise it’s all I need, that’s how I measure happiness – and for me great happiness, means riches beyond measure.

When Sol passed away, probably still smiling, I cried my eyes out.

If you survived Auschwitz – saw your whole family and everyone you knew slaughtered – yet never showed a moment of hatred nor bitterness for anyone – you should be immortal – and live forever.

Sadly, Andy died aged 63 – his heart weakened through his years of suffering. But he lived a full and happy life, grateful for its gifts, ever moving forwards and warmly loved and accepted.

I’m sure you’ve had your highs and lows, triumphs and tragedies, magic moments and hard times.

So, be inspired by Sol and Andy – be grateful, always move forwards and give love so you’re loved and accepted in return.

You’ll share their fabulous wealth and be among the happiest – and richest people in the world.