When Deepak Chopra first arrived in the U.S. from India in 1970, he was a young newlywed who had $20 to his name. He got a job as an intern in a New Jersey emergency room, and being with patients gave Deepak his first taste of what would become his life’s work: understanding well-being and helping others discover it for themselves.
Now as the newest Personal Capital Financial Hero, Deepak is advocating for financial wellness in a season traditionally associated with financial stress and heavy holiday spending — the stress of which is being greatly amplified this year by the upheaval of the global pandemic. If you’re feeling the pressure, you’re far from alone. One recent survey found that 77% of Americans report feeling anxious about their financial situation.
These stressors, Deepak believes, can have a significant impact on holistic well-being. Fatigue, lack of focus, and loss of sleep are only a few struggles when you are under financial strain.
“People are searching for resources to help them learn about finances and create a financial plan,” Deepak told us. “Financial confidence is the goal, and it starts with financial wellness.”
Indeed, there’s hope: Knowing your financial values, setting a plan, and seeing it through can dramatically impact your financial well-being.
As a young man, Deepak learned these lessons firsthand.
A Doctor Explores the Meaning of Happiness
Shortly after arriving to the U.S., Deepak was walking to work when a television store caught his eye. “I’d never seen a television before,” he said, “and there were 40 colored TVs.”
A salesperson joined him outside and convinced him to sign an agreement, buying a TV on loan for the equivalent of a week’s salary. Deepak returned to work at the emergency room, put in another 24 hours, and then went straight to an auto dealership to take out a car loan.
“Now I was in a rut,” he recalled to us. “I was spending money that I hadn’t earned to buy things that I didn’t want or need to impress people that I didn’t care about. This is the kind of stress mindset that leads to disaster.”
That rush of happiness afforded by shopping lasts only momentarily. Quickly, Deepak became interested in another kind of happiness that he calls “personal fulfillment.”
“Fulfillment occurs when you have meaning and purpose in your life,” he explained to us, “and furthermore when you use money for joy, for pleasure, for experiences that you’ve never had before, for helping others, and for creating financial confidence.”
Family Lessons About Finances
From a young age, Deepak learned to be mindful about money. As soon as he started earning a paycheck, his mother advised him to save 10% as if it were a monthly bill. She told him to be thrifty and not spend more than he earned. Later in life, when Deepak was just beginning his medical career, he passed these lessons onto his own children.
Deepak’s daughter, Mallika Chopra, also a wellness expert and author, recalls her parents’ lessons of frugality when money was tight. “Because we grew up in that environment, my parents were always sharing with my brother and I ways in which we could save money, where we could invest money and also to be non-splurging all the time,” she told CNBC.
As a parent, Deepak instilled in his children one key principle: To never think of money as their primary goal. “Money should be a byproduct of your ability to have a calling,” he said. “You will be successful — if we define success as the progressive realization of worthy goals, the ability to have love and compassion, and finally, to always feel secure about your creativity and self-esteem.”
Financial Tools for a Healthy Money Mindset
Can money make you happier? Not exactly. But being confident and in control helps ease the burden of money stress. To get familiar with their finances, millions of people utilize Personal Capital’s professional-grade financial tools. The free technology gives users a complete view of their financial picture. You can easily:
- See all of your financial accounts in one place
- Plan for retirement given a wide range of scenarios
- Budget and save for your short-term and long-term goals
- Analyze your investments and uncover hidden fees
While on the journey to financial well-being, Deepak believes there’s one tried and true path toward personal fulfillment.
“The fastest way to be happy is to make someone else happy,” he said.
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